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Rangers Lack Consistent Effort Against Eastman


They had their chances, but the Parkland Rangers could not pick up a win in their first weekend of action after the Christmas break.

The Rangers hosted the third-place Eastman Selects, Saturday and Sunday at Credit Union Place in Dauphin.

They found themselves behind the eight-ball right off the bat on Saturday, thanks to a little known rule which states teams can only have three players collect pucks after the pregame warmup.

Four Parkland players collected pucks after Saturday’s warmup, which was noticed by Eastman’s coaching staff. They brought it to the attention of the referees working the game, who had no choice but to give Parkland a penalty to start the game.

The Rangers quickly found themselves down 2-0 when Kaycee Coyle scored on the power play 33 seconds in and Luke Mistelbacher made it 2-0 24 seconds later.

The game see-sawed back and forth with Will Munro eventually tying the game at three with less than four minutes remaining.

Mistelbacher’s second of the game with 53 seconds left lifted the Selects to the victory.

Braden Berube had Eastman’s other goal, while Jayce Legaarden and Marco Bodnarski also scoring for Parkland.

Ethan Penner earned the win with 24 saves to his credit. Brenden Birch-Hayden stopped 37 shots in a losing cause.

On Sunday, after Legaarden staked the Rangers to a 1-0 lead, Eastman scored three straight to enter the first intermission with a 3-1 lead en route to a 5-3 win.

Richard Boulet led the Selects with three goals, while Trey Sellen and Merik Boles added singles.

Legaarden scored twice for Parkland, with Madden Murray netting the other.

Andrew Blahy made 18 saves to earn the win in goal. Birch-Hayden made 29 stops in the loss.

Parkland’s record falls to 16-11-2-1 for 35 points and they drop into a fifth place tie with the Southwest Cougars, two points behind the Winnipeg Thrashers.

Rangers assistant coach Jerron Kyle said it was a tough weekend and the Rangers were not at their best at times.

“We didn’t play a full 60 in each of the games. But we were right there with one of the top teams in the league. So it’s encouraging in that aspect, that if we do play a full 60, we can beat those teams,” he said. “Our team has an identity of never quitting and we proved that this weekend. We battled each period. It was just a few costly turnovers that good teams capitalize on.”

There was a little bit of rust after the long Christmas break, Kyle said, adding it was just little things such as puck management and not getting pucks deep that the Rangers did not do as well as they would have liked.

“And getting our legs after the Christmas break definitely hurt us a bit,” he added.

Forward Kyan Grouette was called up to the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League just after Christmas and made his debut, Dec. 28, scoring a goal in his first game.

With his absence, the Rangers called up Parker Boguski, Wesley Gryba and Linden Smigelsky as APs for the two games and Kyle said they played well.

“We’re very happy with all our APs. I thought all the APs played very well and helped us out when we needed them,” he added.

The blueline was bolstered with the return of captain Matthew Munro from injury.

“It’s like we made a trade at the deadline to get a top-end D-man. We’re definitely happy to have him back. That was his first game for a couple months, so once he gets his feet under him, he’s going to be good moving forward,” Kyle said.

The Rangers will now prepare to host the Winnipeg Bruins, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

“We’re battling for a playoff spots with those guys, so we’ve got to get back to basics and bring our work boots and try to put a full 60 in,” Kyle said.

Doug Zywina