|Michael Richards makes mark,
second straight first star performance
The scouting reports for 3 of the teams in the Memorial Cup are extremely similar. There is one big line which they rely on primarily for scoring, and then after that it's slim pickings. The same cannot be said for the Rangers who have had their one-two punch doing the damage and if you dare decide to focus on one trio, the other will take offense and put the puck in the back of your net.
In the third period, coach Peter DeBoer reunited his "All-star line" named as such since they all played as a unit in the Hershey Cup All-Star series. The move was intended to strengthen the top unit replacing gritty winger David Clarkson with tournament goal leader: Petr Kanko. For the most part the plan backfired, but it probably backfired in the best possible way for the Rangers. After Clarkson wsa added to the second line they scored both the tying goal only 3:41 into the third period, and the eventual winner less than 8 minutes later. Michael Richards was the last Ranger to have his stick on both goals, and on both goals pesky David Clarkson was parked firmly in his office, interacting with lots of Kelowna clients.
Things weren't always so rosey for the Rangers who were outshot and badly outplayed in the second period. The Rockets fired 14 shots on Dickie to the Rangers 4 on Kelly Guard. Dickie, who's performance in previous games has often been overshadowed by scoring heroics of several Rangers most notably: Michael Richards, Petr Kanko and Derek Roy. Dickie kept the Rangers in the game, and the Rangers nearly limped into the third period tied 1-1 if it weren't for Duncan Keith's powerplay goal with just 14 seconds left. That goal regained the lead for the Rockets who simply got caught on their heels in the third period.
The Rockets who entered the game 1-1 with a chance to tie the Rangers for the best record in the tournament at 2-1, started off quickly. Kiel McLeod blasted a shot which went in off of the crossbar past a frozen Scott Dickie just over four minutes into the game. Much like the Rangers did against the Hull Olympiques they didn't let the opening goal influence their play. The Rangers play faltered in the second but after a stern reminder of how important a bye to the final would be for the Rangers they responded well.
Both teams were 1 for 6 on the man advantage. The Rangers didn't score until their final powerplay of the game, it it turned out to be the winner. That powerplay goal broke a string of 15 man advantages without scoring. In the previous game the Rangers and Olympiques combined to be 0 for 19 on the powerplay.
George Halkidis for the second straight game, recorded a point. He nearly recorded what would have been a devastating goal on the Rangers' net. While trying to knife the puck into the corner, he nearly picked the top corner of the Rangers net, and believe me if there was ever a time to have a goal with his glove on his right hand it was then and Dickie handled the surprise shot with a quick reaction with his trapper hand.
The win gave the Rangers a 3-0 record and an automatic bye into Sunday's final against the winner of Hull and Kelowna on Saturday night.
Scott Dickie finished the round-robin portion
of the tournament with the best GAA: with a 2.00 mark. The Rangers
scored 4 goals in each of their three games, giving them the lead in goals
for at 4 a game as well.