Monday, October 11, 2010

Rangers Win Thanksgiving Game in OT vs. Erie

Thanksgiving seems quite the appropriate time of year for the Erie Otters to come looking for a fight in Oktoberfest-crazed Kitchener.

Because boy, have these Rangers feasted on the team across the border.

With Monday's 4-3 overtime thriller, make that 11 straight W's in the win-loss column dating back to an eight-game sweep last season of the water-cats.

If any game had the make-up to halt the excessive bleeding, it was surely this one.

Coming off a disheartnening 6-5 loss on Saturday night at home in the Tulio arena, the Otters lacked the intensity the Rangers brought in the first, yet skated to the dressing stalls with a 1-0 advantage.

Credit Toronto Maple Leafs' standout draft pick and Otters' captain Greg McKegg for that. You can also hand some responsibilty to new Rangers overager Jamie Doorbosch.

McKegg, applying the necessary offensive forecheck pressure on an early Rangers power-play, scooped up a how-do-you-do cough up by the former Peterborough Pete, Doornbosch, and flipped it over the shoulder of Mike Morrison.

Doornbosch was shown the door by Petes' General Manager Dave Reid for being a defensive disaster in his own end.

Potent on the power-play he may be, his defensive tendencies haven't seem to have left his repertoire in Kitchener.

Even with the score 3-2 with 20 seconds left in the period, and a late goal by the usual suspect McKegg, the Rangers never panicked over their 10-game gargantuan gold-mine of Ontario Hockey League points that the Otters have morphed into becoming in the eyes of the blueshirts.

Or make that redshirts. Kitchener sported their new third jerseys, donning the crest of a soldier's mug, honouring both the Canadian veterans from both world wars, as well as the popular Remembrance Day jerseys from the very first game of the Memorial Cup tournament held in the same Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in 2008.

Landeskog buried a rebound on an overtime man-advantage to send the Otters back home to once again contemplate what more they can do to beat their division rivals.

Ryan Murphy and Matt Tipoff tallied the other markers for the Rangers while Adam pelech added a bank-in job off Rangers' forward Ben Thomson's stick to go along with McKegg's deuce.

Monday's game also signalled a coming-out party for 2010 first-round draft pick Matia Marcantuoni (pictured).

While draft picks with much less fanfare and hype surrounding them racked up the points out of the starting gate in the O, (see Sarnia's Alex Galchenyuk and Belleville's Brendan Gaunce), Marcantuoni sputtered and despite getting his chances early, perpetually came up short when it came to putting the puck behind the keeper.

And while the kid may still only have one goal to his name so far, his play has caught fire, collecting that goal and five assists in his past three games while being promoted to second-line centre accompanying fellow rookie scoring sensation Tobias Rieder and Tipoff with the absence of Carolina's Jeff Skinner.

While the OHL's learning curve is steep, it seems the 16 year-old's hands have caught up with his blazing speed.

On this day, Marcantuoni's drive to the net gave Rieder and the Kitchener Rangers their go-ahead third goal of the match and was named first star for his efforts.

The Rangers can claim to become even more lethal as the next crop of stars in Marcantuoni and Rieder, 16 and 17 respectively, get more and more acclimatized to the league (Rieder's six goals in seven games have helped him claim eighth spot in league scoring).

Meanwhile, the Otters can circle their next date with the Rangers, November 27, on their calendars because something's gotta give.

And as always, the team across the pond eternally hopes they'll find the secret formula sooner, rather than later.

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