Saturday, September 11, 2010

Scrappy Affair with Icedogs Results in Tie

John Chartrand saw his opportunity and took it.

The Niagara Icedogs keeper bolted his doghouse crease for the bench as he saw the linesman's arm shoot up. The right arm.

His team was going on the power-play. Or so he thought.

What Chartrand didn't see was the ol' switcheroo that the striped official decided to pull after the keeper booked it across the ice in a 3-3 draw between the Kitchener Rangers and the Icedogs Saturday night.

As fast as the arm went up, it went right back down again and the opposite arm was elevated in place of its partner just seconds before, signalling a high-stick infraction, a very different call, with very different implications.

But all Chartrand saw was the righty.

And as Gabriel Landeskog flew down the ice and saw a goalie-less net staring at him in the face, the Rangers winger must have thought the generous dogs were throwing him a bone in pre-season hijinx.

But alas for the big Swede, the whistle blew and his empty-netter dreams were dashed as soon as they had materialized.

As soon as the mix-up was clarified and the tender realized his gaffe, his doggy brethren were able to have a good chuckle at their mate's misfortune.

The boys in blue at the opposite end of the bench weren't so pleased.

Landeskog would sink one past Chartrand by the time the evening was over however, as he flipped a tic-tac-toe pass from Michael Cattenaci above Chartrand's right shoulder to mark what would be the Rangers' only lead of the night at 3-2.

Chartrand would probably have taken riding the pine over giving up the tying 2-2 marker that came earlier by Ben Thomson, who stole the puck from a defender on the penalty kill and ripped off a shorthanded tally 10-12 feet away that surprised and eluded the big keeper earlier in the frame.

Thomson had an adventurous outing that saw the large sophomore record a goal, an assist, and an unexpected flight through the air after Dogs' defenceman Matt Petgrave leaned into a hipcheck that sent Thomson sprawling into the air, perhaps retribution for Thomson's earlier Pitbull-ish check that sent him to the doghouse for interference, and sent Thomson's number 15 into the memory banks of Petgrave.

Despite the two teams not seeing each other often (they only clash twice in the regular season), the game had a surprisingly physical flair to it, with many players having a bone to pick with their opponents.

Both Matt Braun and Chad Lowry engaged in separate scraps that sent both hitting the showers early for the mandatory pre-season fighting game misconduct versus two of Niagara's naughty dogs.

The sentiments may just be echoing the bitterness between head coaches Steve Spott and Niagara's Marty Williamson who publicly bickered over a he-said-he-said trade that went south for the Rangers when ex-goalie Mavric Parks was sent to Williamson's Barrie Colts.

Don't look for Spott to be trading with the Icedogs anytime soon.

Matt Tipoff continued his strong pre-season with a tip-in goal from a backhanded pass from Thomson in the first.

Johnson Andrews, Andrew Fritsch and Mitchell Theoret rounded out the scoring for Niagara.

The Rangers will finish the pre-season with a rematch with the Icedogs on Friday and will open the season on Friday the 24th versus the Saginaw Spirit.

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