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Rangers remain among league leaders

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After splitting a pair of home games this past weekend, the Parkland Rangers find themselves tied for third in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League.
The Eastman Selects built a 4-0 lead in the first period and hung on for a 6-2 win, Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, the Rangers scored a 3-2 win over the Southwest Cougars.
Parkland improves to 5-2, tied with the Brandon Wheat Kings, one point behind Eastman and three back of the expansion Winnipeg Bruins.
Rangers head coach Brad Dupasquier said the Rangers were not focused to start the game, Saturday, resulting in the big first-period deficit.
“Right from between the pipes out. And then we got down a couple and we lost focus even more. They ended up scoring four goals on the first seven shots,” he said.
“It was a team lack of effort that led to those four goals.”
Zach Grouette started and allowed the four goals on seven shots in 12:29, but Dupasquier was quick to point out he was not entirely to blame for the four goals against.
Parkland’s play improved over the final 40 minutes, but they could not close the gap. Dupasquier noted the shots were even in the last two periods and the Rangers had scoring opportunities that could have made the game closer, as well.
On Sunday, the Rangers were better structurally, but Dupasquier feels the team needs to improve on its urgency and its play in the defensive zone.
“We didn’t finish well today. We had multiple opportunities to get five or six goals, but we just didn’t finish,” he said.
Dupasquier had high praise for Rory Campbell, who played well after entering the game in relief of Grouette against Eastman. Then Campbell stopped 34 shots in Sunday’s win. He now leads the league with four wins.
“I thought he had a really strong two periods against Eastman after coming in in relief. And I thought he might have been our best player (Sunday),” he said.
Every team in the league will gather in Portage this weekend for the annual showcase. It will provide the players a chance to shine in front of college, junior and pro scouts. Dupasquier feels the players should be anxious to play in front of the scouts, hoping to get noticed.
“It opens up opportunities for out west, B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. They will all be there. And they’re looking at 17-year-olds, because they can’t look at 16 and 15-year-olds. So if anything it should be a motivating factor and not one that makes them nervous or step back in any way,” he said.
The showcase will give the Rangers their first chance to face the Bruins, who sit on top of the league with a 6-0-1-0 record.
“The Bruins will be a huge challenge. They lost one in overtime, so they’ve got points in every one of their games this season,” Dupasquier said.
Although the Rangers have never faced the Bruins before, they are familiar with Winnipeg’s head coach Dan Eliasson, who led the Winnipeg Thrashers to a Telus Cup national championship in 2011. Dupasquier noted Eliasson’s systems have stayed with the Thrashers over the years.
The Rangers and Bruins meet, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, Parkland faces the Norman North Stars at noon.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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