Kitchener Rangers goalie John Gibson was named team playoff MVP today.
The official title is the Charles Chalkin Memorial Trophy.
Gibson started every game in the post-season for the Rangers.
2011-12, John Gibson 2010-11, Jerry D'Amigo 2009-10, Dan Kelly, Jeff Skinner 2007-08, Josh Unice 2007-08, Steve Downie 2005-06, Cory Konecny 2004-05, Michael Richards 2003-04, Nathan O`Nabigon 2002-03, Gregory Campbell 2001-02, Marcus Smith 2000-01, N/A 1999-00, Bill Browne 1998-99, N/A 1997-98, Ryan Milanovic 1996-97, David Belitski/ Ryan Pepperall 1995-96, David Belitski 1994-95, David Belitski 1993-94, Norm Dezainde 1992-93, Todd Warriner 1991-92, Tyler Ertel, Chris LiPuma, Mike Torchia 1990-91, Jason Firth 1989-90, Shayne Stevenson 1988-89, Kirk Tomlinson 1987-88, Gus Morschauser 1986-87, Ed Kister 1985-86, Dave Latta 1984-85, Joel Brown 1983-84, John Tucker 1982-83, Mike Eagles 1981-82, Brian Bellows 1980-81, Wendell Young 1979-80, N/A 1978-79, Dave Jennings 1977-78, Don Maloney 1976-77, Paul Reinhart 1975-76, Dwight Foster
The Kitchener Rangers sure need it. The team lost 5-2 last night and is in a hole, down 3-0 to London.
Yes, a monumental task lies ahead. Not only do the Rangers have to rally and win four straight games, they have to do it against the OHL's top rated team.
If you're looking for recent precedent, it's not out there. The best is 2005 when Kitchener fell behind 0-2 to Erie before winning four straight to take the series.
Oh, and this should make fans feel better - London sniper Greg McKegg (nine points, 10 playoff games) is close to returning. The forward has missed the entire series with an upper body injury and could be back for Friday's game, if the series lasts that long.
And the length of the west final will depend on what the Rangers do tonight at the Aud. Game time is 7 p.m.
You could almost make the argument that Kitchener has won four out of seven periods of play (one OT) this series. That's how close the team is to being up 2-0 or tied 1-1.
But London has to feel good being at home for a huge game. As usual, check back here leading up to the start time for line combos and more goodies.
By the way, did anyone catch Mark Visentin's goal for the Niagara IceDogs last night?
Talked to backup Franky Palazzese before tonight's tilt. He has never scored a goal in a game.
"I’ve been thinking about it for a long time," said Palazzese. "When I saw it, I thought it was awesome. He has more goals than some guys in the playoffs right now."
Some OHL news, the league has suspended Ottawa 67's Marc Zanetti for the balance of the playoffs for kicking a player in the eastern conference final. If Ottawa moves on to the Memorial Cup, the team can apply to get him back in the lineup.
Ottawa trails Niagara 2-1, so that means at worst, it's a 13 game suspension. Zanetti has already missed two games.
- Kitchener finally gets some secondary scoring and the scorching first line is shut down.
- That was the worst first period of the playoffs for the Rangers. First goal was one Gibson has 99 times out of 100. The second goal came off a brutal line change, three Rangers skated off with the Knights hovering on Kitchener's blue line.
- Consensus in London was that this one was lucky to be 5-2.
- Olli Maatta pots two in 22 seconds. On the first one: "I couldn't have shot it better." On the second, "I think it was pretty lucky."
- The crazy thing about this game? Kitchener was in it until the end despite being severely out played. A failed 5-on-3 power play in the second period, that would have made it 4-3 London, was a comeback killer.
- There are some real questionable folks in the pressbox in London. Guys getting emotional over the play. Give it a rest. Thankfully the Free Press guys are solid reporters who understand the code - no cheering in the pressbox.
- Not sure anyone expected this series to be 3-0 London, not even the Knights.
- Lost in the series is the fact that London hasn't scored a power play goal in the past seven games.
JB's top three Rangers: Franky Palazzese, Eric Ming, Josh Sterk
Last night it was 4-2 in the third, but 6-4 for London in the books. Give Austin "I almost came to Kitchener at the trade deadline' Watson a pair of goals.
Want to know how the Knights are really getting it done? Depth. Guys who were quiet earlier on in the post-season are stepping up when London needs them most.
Max Domi, no goals before this series, two now. Olli Maatta, one goal before, one in two games in west final. Josh Anderson, one goal leading up, one in the series. Tyler Ferry, first goal of the playoffs in Game 1 vs Kitchener.
Across the ice? It's the same old faces. Tobias Rieder and Ben Thomson in the 3-2 loss Thursday. Rieder with two more, Michael Catenacci and Ryan Murphy with the others last night.
Off to practice this afternoon. Will report back if any lines get mixed up.
Back from Sportsworld. Closed door team meetings today. Staff wasn't sure if they were going to hit the ice or not.
Tobi Rieder was named OHL player of the week after grabbing seven points in three games. Teammate Ryan Murphy was a finalist.
The good news? The Rangers, despite playing on little rest, controlled a lot of the game and certainly don't have a problem playing in the confines of the JLC. That bodes well for future matches.
Forgot to update Eric Ming's status in the post-game notes last night. The winger left the game after the first period with a lower body injury but coach Steve Spott says he should be good to go for Sunday's Game 2.
A crew is assembling the post-game media press conference stage as I type this.
Kitchener Rangers trainers Dan Lebold and Barry Hoch are already here as well, getting all the gear ready for tonight's Game 1 of the western conference final.
I was stopped at a red light in downtown London while on my way to the rink. It was a nice day, so the window was down. And a couple was arguing at fever pitch. It was heated. Something about someone cheating on the other one.
Found it fitting leading up to tonight's tilt. London and Kitchener don't get along. Read all the "we respect" them quotes you want. Truth is, these clubs love beating each other and have a deep rivalry.
- This one is going to haunt the Rangers. Kitchener had London right where they wanted them, down 2-1, about five minutes to go, Game 2 at home on the horizon and poof, it's a 3-2 OT loss.
- How do you know you let one slip away? Your goalie, John Gibson, is the game's first star.
- Fans booed Ryan Murphy several times for holding the puck behind his own goal and not advancing the play. Both coaches addressed it after the game. Steve Spott asked who the fans were booing. Mark Hunter said chasing Murphy is not a smart strategy.
- The wheels certainly fell off for the Rangers in the third period. Tough turn around for sure from Tuesday's big Game 7 win in Plymouth.
- London got a gift on the first goal. Cody Sol lost control of the puck in front of his own net and Max Domi pounced for an easy marker. Atypical for Sol.
- Big crowd, but kinda quiet, at least until the Knights tied it up 2-2.
- After being a healthy scratch, Andreas Athanasiou played an inspired game tonight. His line, with Domi and Jared Knight was the team's best.
JB's top three Rangers: John Gibson, Tobias Rieder, Ben Thomson
The western conference final is hours away. And it will be a familiar gathering on the ice.
Kitchener and London have a deep seeded rivalry that dates back years. Need a reminder? Click on the video above.
As for this year, the breakdown is as follows:
Home: Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Route: Beat Owen Sound 4-1 in quarters, Plymouth 4-3 in semis Top five: Tobias Rieder (23 points), Mike Catenacci (23), Ryan Murphy (14), Cody Sol (11), Andrew Crescenzi (9) Playoff performer: Tyler Randell, six goals in two post-season games Watch for: Radek Fakisa, missed three playoff games with a head injury. Has looked good since returning. Injuries: Crescenzi (upper body) will play
Home: John Labatt Centre Route: Beat Windsor 4-0 in quarters, Saginaw 4-2 in semis Top five: Seth Griffith (12), Olli Maatta (12), Austin Watson (9), Greg McKegg (9), Vlad Namestnikov (9) Playoff performer: Jared Knight, six points in seven games Watch for: Tyler Ferry, steady defenceman is plus-eight in post-season Injuries: McKegg (upper body) out for Game 1, Knight (ankle in first round, has returned), Max Domi (flu, expected to play)
As for predictions, I've got the Rangers winning in seven.
I had Kitchener losing in five in the last round. So why the change? Well, it all falls on three things - hard work, skilled players and great goaltending.
The Rangers can't match London in overall team skill, but Kitchener's best players - goalie John Gibson, Catenacci, Rieder, Thomson, Sol and Murphy - are, I'd argue, playing the best as a unit in the post-season. When you win the battle of the best players, you win games.
As for hard work, it's a trademark of this team. If the first two rounds showed anything, it's that the Rangers will out hustle their opponent.
And finally, any good team goes far on great goaltending. London's Michael Houser is superb. But this post-season, he has been good, not great. Gibson? Unreal. As long as he keeps Kitchener in games, the club will be ripe for the upset.
Over at the London Free Press, columnist Morris Dalla Costa says it's London in seven, though he doesn't feel good about the decision.
Saginaw's Greg Gilbert was named OHL coach of the year. Gilbert received 45 points in the vote. Kitchener's Steve Spott was second at 39 points. Brampton skipper Stan Butler was third with 34 points.
Gilbert joined the Spirit mid-season and the team went 20-10-1-5 under his watch.
This is the fourth time the Rangers have gone to a Game 7 under Steve Spott's watch.
2011: West quarter-finals, Plymouth 4, Kitchener 2 2010: West final, Windsor 4, Kitchener 1 2010: West semifinals, Kitchener 8, London 3
Plymouth is 5-5 in Game 7 in team history.
If Kitchener wins tonight, the western final schedule is as follows:
Game 1: Thursday April 19 - Kitchener at London - 7 p.m. Game 2: Sunday April 22 - London at Kitchener - 7 p.m. Game 3: Tuesday April 24 - Kitchener at London - 7 p.m. Game 4: Wednesday April 25 - London at Kitchener - 7 p.m. Game 5: Friday April 27 - Kitchener at London - 7 p.m. * Game 6: Sunday April 29 - London at Kitchener - 7 p.m. * Game 7: Monday April 30 - Kitchener at London - 7 p.m. *
We're hours away from the deciding Game 7 of the OHL western conference semifinal between the Kitchener Rangers and Plymouth Whalers.
Tonight, the Rangers will welcome the return of forward Tyler Randell. It's like the club made a mid post-season trade. After all, Randell has missed 10 of the team's 11 playoff games while serving a suspension.
He was an animal in Kitchener's Game 1 win in the quarters, scoring two goals and dishing out several punishing hits.
And no one is more excited about rejoining the team than Randell. The overager was touched by the fact that his teammates used his situation as motivation to make it far enough along in the playoffs so he could finish his junior career on the ice and not in the stands.
So what does his addition mean?
Well, it gives Kitchener depth up front, outside of its current two scoring lines. It adds some much needed beef to the lineup (Steve Spott said he could be one of the toughest guys in the OHL). And it gives the Rangers another option to park in front of Plymouth goalie Scott Wedgewood on the power play.
I hear there is at least one fan bus headed state side. Hope to see lots more supporters at the game.
It should be a nut house at the Aud tonight for a do or die Game 6.
A win and the Rangers are off to a seventh and deciding game in the western conference semifinal and a chance for a shot at the London Knights, who wrapped up their series against Saginaw 4-2.
A loss and the season is over.
After last night's 3-0 loss, coach/GM Steve Spott said the team will look to lean on the crowd as the extra man for tonight's tilt. Defenceman Ben Fanelli echoed the sentiment adding that there is no better feeling than playing at the Aud.
Forward Andrew Crescenzi will not play tonight. He left Game 5 with an upper body injury and remains out. Winger Brandon Francisco goes back in to fill the void.
- Tyler Randell returns to the lineup for Game 7. That's a huge boost for the Rangers. His 10-game suspension ended tonight.
- Great effort by some secondary players, namely Ben Fanelli and Curtis Meighan who set up, and scored, the game winner.
- The one thing I like about Plymouth is that they never panic. It doesn't matter if they fall behind one, two or three goals. They keep their composure and keep coming at you. A fine quality in a team.
- The Faksa-Ming-Lorentz line has had better games. Ming and Lorentz at minus-2.
- Nice to see the Rangers finally pepper an opposing goalie with a bunch of shots. More than 40 tonight.
- Kitchener Rangers goalie John Gibson continues to keep the club in the game. Lots of Anaheim scouts here tonight. The Rangers had better hope he isn't off to the AHL next year.
JB's top three Rangers: Ryan Murphy, Cody Sol, Curtis Meighan