After dropping three straight games against the Bulls, falling in a game seven, might have been a little too much for the Rangers, despite their free-pass into the Memorial Cup. The boys in blue had already watched one golden opportunity pass by, they outplayed the Bulls in game 5 with a chance to clinch the series infront of their own fans, and if it weren't for the netminding heroics of Mike Murphy, this game seven would have never happened. As it turned out, game #5 was just a dress rehersal. A costly dress rehersal as the Rangers had another key defender go down, but preperation for a big game seven which probably elevated the Rangers' play, which should serve them well going into the Memorial Cup tounament. Hundreds of fans from Belleville made the trek on Monday night down to Kitchener, hoping to see the single greatest-comeback in OHL finals history. No team had ever come back to win a finals series after trailing 3-0 and despite regaining the services of the league's top netminder: Mike Murphy and bolstering their forward ranks with World Junior Championship team Canada star: Shawn Matthias in the crtitical game seven.
After taking game 6 with three straight goals
in the third period to finish off the Rangers after Kitchener had tied
the game late in the second period, the momentum was all on Belleville's
side. Early in the game, Josh Unice had to be active, but things
quickly changed as the Bulls found themselves on the defensive. With
the Rangers' second line struggling in the losses, the pressure was on
the top unit with the post-season's scoring leaders to carry the weight.
As in any of the previous games, offensive contributions from any of the
other lines would be a tremendous boost. The recently-name league's
most outstanding forward: Justin Azevedo took it upon himself to crack
the Murphy-code but he and his linemates were repeatedly turned away in
the first period, including one extremely dominant power play. Just
when it appeared that the two teams would emerged from the first period
scoreless, Scott Timmins was taken down behind the net resulting in a second
consecutive penalty. That power play never arrived as Brandon Mashinter
found the puck at the side of the crease during the delayed call, and brought
6754 fans to their feet.
In the second period, the Rangers carried over a power play from a high-sticking minor to: Shawn Lalonde. As the minor was about to expire Nick Spaling going against the grain and falling to the ice managed to beat Mike Murphy giving the Rangers a two goal bulge. The Rangers had their share of chances but again Mike Murphy was there. Josh Unice, was in the midst of playing one of his strongest games in the series. On several occasions he was able to utilize the poke-check to prevent Belleville scoring opportunities from looking more spectacular, knocking pucks away before they could find their way onto the stick's of opposing players. One tactic that the Bulls employed as an annoyance to the Rangers is constantly shoving the net off when the Rangers got close to scoring. It's something that emerged prominently in the third period of game six in Belleville. Much like game 6, P.K. Subban was able to sucker Nazem Kadri into another penalty, the Rangers penalty kill looked nothing short of dominant, but at the end of the kill, Shawn Matthias came looking harmless, but unleashed a hard wrister from the faceoff circle that beat Unice short side. It gave the Bulls some life, and shortly afterwards, the Bulls had a golden opportunity to tie the game on the power play, this time the Rangers would shut them down.
Nazem Kadri finally gave the Rangers the breathing room that they needed early in the third period, as the Rangers finally got the awkward bounce that they needed in the crease and the puck carried past netminder: Mike Murphy and into the net. The Bulls tried in vain to knock the net off of its' pegs, but appeared a little too late. After an extensive video replay, the goal was allowed to stand. The Rangers continued to pile it on opportunities, but again they only got Murphy to bend and not break. At the other end of the ice, as time started to run out the Rangers tightened up their defensive game, and put a blanket on the Bulls. The Rangers put the game on ice when Mike Duco intercepted a pass and lugged the puck 150 feet before depositing the puck in the vacated Bulls' net. Suddenly the Rangers' bench errupted! You almost felt sorry for the players "trapped" on the ice would had to wait to celebrate with their teammates. The Rangers ragged the puck for the final 10 seconds in their own zone while the thunderous crowd counted the game time down to zero. Nothing would take away from the Rangers' series victory, that much was obvious, not even the three consecutive losses that preceded it. Ben Shutron, who logged an incredible amount of ice effecitvely during the game was named the first star for his first time as a Ranger. In the end it was 5th year Ranger: Matt Pepe who accepted the championship trophy and unlike the Gretzky trophy thrillingly lifted the trophy into the air in celebration.