It was a bit of a scramble for the Kitchener Rangers, whose 16-game streak of notching at least one point, ended in Guelph.
The Rangers salvaged the weekend with a 2-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires on Friday night.
Sunday, the Rangers just couldn't get anything going due, in most part, to a string of penalties that plagued them all game long.
(Thanks to Tony Saxon at the Merc for the fine photo).
1. Dawson Carty. Have the Rangers found Franky Palazzese version 2.0? Carty wanted a chance to play a lot and he's earning it. He faced just shy of four minutes of 5-on-3 hockey Sunday and did not allow a goal. And it wasn't one of those two-man advantages where no shots got off. The Storm were all over the Rangers but just couldn't slip one by Carty. This is shaping up to be the addition of the year in the OHL.
2. Penalty killing. It wasn't too long ago that we were talking about how poor the Rangers' PK was. Now, it's ranked 9th in the OHL. Guelph went 0-for-7 on the PP yesterday thanks to a much improved Rangers' special teams unit. Let's single out Curtis Meighan, Frank Hora, Darby Llewellyn and Brent Pedersen for their hard work while a man down.
3. Thomas Welsh. The team got its first look at the new D-man and you know what? He looked just fine. A year and a half out of the league and you wouldn't even know it. Welsh played the point on the PP, was on the ice when the team pulled the goalie in the final minute and a half and didn't make any glaring mistakes. He's good on the puck and quick to get it out of the zone, delivers crisp, accurate passes and doesn't panic. It's only one game but he could turn into a nice OA option for the Rangers next season if he keeps it up.
1. Power play. It was 0-for-10 on the weekend. It's not panic time yet and this thing will fluctuate but the PP was sizzling and a good source of goals during the 16-game run. Bagging one yesterday would have completely changed the complexion of the game. Would be nice to see this element rebound on the upcoming three game road trip.
2. Darby Llewellyn. He isn't a liability by any means. He's a healthy plus-6, turning into a PK beast and the effort is there. But I think he'd be the first to say he isn't scoring as much as he'd like to. Just five goals for DB after putting up 25 last year. Granted, he's not seeing as much ice time or the PP minutes but he's too good to not be lighting the lamp with regularity. The Aud just isn't the same without his passionate goal celebrations. The good news is that one senses it's just a matter of time before things turn around for him.
3. Max Iafrate. I think the past two games show how dearly the club misses the OA minutes-eater. The 20-year-old is out with a back injury and it would be a big boon to get him back in the lineup for the eastern trip beginning Thursday.