A huge game tonight. Perhaps the understatement of the year.
A win and it's full steam ahead for the Rangers with a 3-0 lead. Storm win and we've got a whole news series.
In the post-season, it's the little things that make the difference. One of them is the Rangers' training crew.
More than three hours before game time and the crew - Dan Lebold, Barry Hoch and Curtis Ball - are already here outfitting the bench and prepping the locker room. A dedicated bunch for sure.
Matt Puempel-Radek Faksa-Justin Bailey
Ben Thomson-Tobias Rieder-Josh Leivo
Brent Pedersen-Matia Marcantuoni-Derek Schoenmakers
Domenic Alberga-Curtis Meighan-Eric Ming
Ben Fanelli-Frank Corrado
Evan McEneny-Ryan Murphy
Jared Gilbert-Max Iafrate
John Gibson (2-0) starts.
Scott Kosmachuk-Tanner Richard-Zack Mitchell
Chadd Bauman-Hunter Garlent-Jason Dicksinson
Patrick Watling-Ryan Horvat-Cody McNaughton
Tyler Bertuzzi-Robby Fabbri-Justin Auger
Andrey Pedan-Saverio Posa
Zac Leslie-Brock Beukeboom
Ben Harpur-Daniel Poliziani
Garret Sparks (0-2) starts.
- Kitchener prospect Ty Learn is out with a concussion and won't be on the playoff practice roster. Learn spent most of the year with the Jr. B Kitchener Dutchmen.
- Guelph Game 2 shots in first period = 23. In Game 3 = 8.
- Storm forward Tyler Bertuzzi was effective early on and drew two penalties. The first, an interference call on Kitchener captain Ryan Murphy, was a complete sell job to the refs. Credit the feisty winger, it worked.
- The Storm as a whole were concentrating on Murphy more than ever so far this series.
- Brent Pedersen preserved the 1-0 lead in the first period by making a Gibson-esque save. Pedersen went down, kicked his legs out and sprawled in front of the left side of the net to stop a Guelph shot from going into a wide open cage.
- A 'Go Rangers Go!' chant rocked the Sleeman Centre a few minutes in to the surprise of some.
- What a game. Give Guelph tons of credit. They were down 2-0 with about five minutes to go. They were 0-for-10 on the power play and had not beaten John Gibson in almost eight periods of play. Yet, they won the game. Lesson? Never give up.
- The key now, for the Rangers, is how they respond to the third period collapse in Game 4.
- Kitchener did a lot of things right in this one - took the crowd out of the match, killed 10 power plays and controlled all but about 3:41 of the contest.
- Part of this game reminded me of a mid-February clash that saw Guelph beat Kitchener 5-3. In that game, the Rangers gave up seven power plays. They bought into the Storm game plan and paid the price. Same thing tonight. You can't give any team 10 PPs, especially in the playoffs. Sure, Guelph didn't score with the man advantage, but the flow of the game was disrupted because of the parade to the box.
- Kudos to Ben Thomson for scoring on the breakaway. The gritty winger takes a lot of good natured ribbing from his teammates for his lack of refinement around the net but he made no mistake against goalie Garret Sparks to put the Rangers up 1-0.
- Despite Kitchener's domination, you could feel that something was about to happen at the Sleeman Centre. Guelph was playing desperate hockey and the urgency paid off.
- Game 1 was about Kitchener's successful PP. Game 2 was all John Gibson. Tonight, it was the Guelph comeback. Missing in all of this? Even strength goals by some of Kitchener's big guns, namely Tobias Rieder and Josh Leivo. They're due for a breakout.
- John Gibson's shutout streak lasted 153 minutes and 54 seconds.
JB's top three Rangers: John Gibson, Ben Thomson, Ryan Murphy