Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rangers off to Ann Arbor this weekend

The Marquette Rangers take to the road this weekend for a key matchup with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 team based in Ann Arbor.

Marquette currently sits alone in third place in the North American Hockey League North Division with 22 points (11 wins, eight losses). The NTDP is in a fourth-place tie with Alpena just one point behind.

“We knew at the beginning of the season that our division was going to be very tight,” said Rangers head coach Randy Enders. “The balance we’ve seen in our division has been amazing and we’re not even to December yet. It’s great for all involved because it forces us to be at the top of our game every weekend because if you’re not, you’re going to lose ground quick - ground you may never make up during the season.

“With young men like we have in our league, it’s a great lesson on being prepared and what it takes to win at a very high level. We as coaches can see the growth almost on a daily basis from the guys who show up ready to go. It’s very rewarding when you can see the switch get turned on in a players head, because you know he’ll be ready for the next challenge.”

Marquette is coming off a split at Lakeview Arena against the IceDiggers, winning 4-1 on Friday before falling 2-1 on Saturday night.

Team USA, following a silver medal at the Four Nations Cup in Russia traveled to St. Louis and split with the defending Robertson Cup champion Bandits, losing 5-3 Friday and winning on Saturday by a score of 7-3.

The two teams split their only other weekend together in late September in Marquette with the NTDP winning the first night 5-3. The Rangers held on for a 6-4 win on Saturday night.

The Rangers have been getting solid goaltending so far this season from second-year Ranger Matt Brooker. The Richmond, Virginia native sports a record of 8-2 on the year with a 2.88 goals-against average and a save percentage of .919.

Offensively, Aaron Pietila (Brighton) and Josh Bussell (LaSalle) lead the team with 20 points each. Ten Rangers have double-digit point totals so far on the season.

The NTDP, coached by former Michigan Tech standout Ron Rolston, is led by Jeremy Morin’s 15 points (11 goals, four assists) on the season.

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