Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Ghosts of the Rangers

So there we were watching the final game of the round robin portion of the 2008 Memorial Cup when all of a sudden a New York Ranger game broke out and the Rangers channeled themselves into the uniforms of the Kitchener Rangers.

Actually that is not really a true picture of what happened during the Kitchener Rangers and Belleville Bulls but there were a lot of similar happenings during this game. The game wound up a Belleville 4-3 overtime win but if you missed this game then you missed a very entertaining game which is setting up one very dramatic semi-final on Friday night.

If you are not used to the OHL then hearing a "Lets Go Rangers" chant in non-NHL arenas along with seeing kids wearing Ranger uniforms and an almost copy of the Ranger goal song can be a different experience.

This was supposed to be another supposed meaningless game but once again the "experts" forgot to ask the players on both teams what this game meant to them. For Kitchener they wanted to grab the momentum and give the Bulls a lot to think about before they meet on Friday when it is for the spot in the finals.

The Bulls on the other hand wanted to get a bit of revenge for losing Game 7 in the OHL finals to the K-Rangers. They wanted a win on Kitchener's home ice so they could play the mind games with both the Rangers and their fans.

The K-Rangers came out storming as they scored 3 goals in a 4:30 span of the first period to jump out to what looked like an easy 3-0 lead. The Bulls looked like they were disorganized and a step behind the K-Rangers as this game really was looking like it was going to a rout as the first period ended.

The K-Rangers were dominating and as the 2nd period got underway it looked like the K-Rangers were going to add to their lead until the Captain of the Bulls Shawn Matthias who did what leaders are expected to do. Matthias made the play to get his team back into the game as he scored a shorthanded goal that gave the Bulls a new life.

Then add the surprise scorer of the Bulls Cory Tanaka adding his 4th of the Cup to make it a one goal game as the 2nd period ended. The 3rd period barely got started when our resident hockey comedian P. K. Suppan tied the game at 3 just 20 seconds into the period.

Once the game was tied then it became Belleville goalie Mike Murphy's show as the K-Rangers fired 26 3rd period shots at him but Murphy held his ground stopping everything that was thrown at him. Murphy for the game stopped 54 out of 57 shots earning the game's first star.

The game went into overtime and of course you just knew that the Bulls completed their comeback scoring the last of their 4 unanswered goals at 8:55 of the first overtime. This sent the Bulls into the semi-finals as the 2 seed which the only real advantage is the last line change since the game will still be played on Kitchener ice.

So what exactly did the Bulls earn for their win? In all honesty we think all the Bulls and Rangers got out of this game is nothing as both teams have played each other now 8 times in the last month so nobody really learned anything new.

If anything we think the Bulls winning was a bad result for them as now the K-Rangers have one extra incentive to want to win on Friday. They do not want to be embarrassed on home ice having their season come to an end with 2 straight losses.

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