Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rangers ready for battle with Alpena

After splitting their series at Fargo-Moorhead this past weekend, the Marquette Rangers return home to Lakeview Arena this Friday and Saturday to battle North Division rivals, the Alpena IceDiggers.

Marquette leads Alpena by one point in the race for third place in the division.

“It’s a great rivalry” said Rangers forward and assistant captain Dustin Partacz. “You always have to be ready when Alpena comes to town because it’s really intense when we play one another. We see them so many times during the year (12 games in the regular season) that we know each others’ game plan so the games will always be tight and close.”

Marquette lost last Friday at Fargo-Moorhead 6-3, but came back to win on Saturday, 5-2, behind two goals from Josh Bussell and a 30-save effort by goaltender Matt Brooker.

Alpena, meanwhile, was swept at home by Mahoning Valley by scores of 4-3 and 2-1.

The Rangers and IceDiggers have played three times this season, with Marquette winning two times, Alpena once. The home team has yet to win a game in the series this year.

The tightness of the race between the two teams is no surprise to Rangers head coach Randy Enders.

“When you play a team as often as we play Alpena or Traverse City for that matter; it’s only natural that it will be close every game," Enders said. "It’s sounds like a cliché, but it’s true that in a rivalry like this every second of every shift becomes crucial to our success. It makes the players more focused, and it makes them work harder which will obviously help them grow and be better hockey players.

“It’s also great for the fans because they get the best efforts from both teams every time we play, which guarantees a great night of hockey to come watch.”

Marquette is led in scoring by Bussell’s 20 points (9g, 11a), but the Rangers do boast having ten players on the roster in double figure in point production so far this season.

“That’s huge” Enders added. “When you can achieve balance it makes you more dangerous. We’re harder to defend when we have more than just a few guys scoring goals, it’s a trend I hope we continue for a long time this season because it not only helps us with games it help our guys’ confidence as the grind of the long season kicks in.”

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