Friday, February 15, 2008

Rangers reflect during off week

The Marquette Rangers, coming of a split at second-place Mahoning Valley, will be off this weekend before resuming play in the North American Hockey League North Division February 22-23.

The Rangers beat the Phantoms, 6-2, last Friday, before suffering a 4-1 setback Saturday night.

Despite the loss on Saturday, head coach Randy Enders was pleased with the overall performance of the team and says he feels good about where the Rangers are with 12 games remaining.

“Our older guys are really starting to pick it up as we head into the last part of the season," said Enders. "Nic Weight has been finding the net on a regular basis, Jimmy Gallagher is up there in scoring leadership now (and) we’re getting points from (Mike) Macari and (Derek) Grogan night after night which will only spell good things for our club.

“Mix in the young talent we have - guys like Josh Bussell, Austin Mattson, Garrett Ladd, Chad Pietila, Collin Saint-Onge - guys who aren’t rookies anymore after all the games we’ve played and we’re a pretty solid lineup every night. The tough part is staying focused during a 58-game season, so this weekend off is at a great time for us to get rested and ready to go for the playoff stretch."

When the Rangers do return to action it’ll be with two consecutive series on the road. First up is the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 Team in Ann Arbor, before heading to Traverse City to battle the North Stars February 29-March 1. Marquette finishes the season with six out of their last eight at home at Lakeview Arena.

Although in the midst of a 34-day swing off of home ice, the Rangers say they like the way the schedule plays out to end the season.

“I think it’s almost like a reward for these two long road trips,” said Rangers goaltender Beau Christian. “We need as many points as we can get on the road, but if we can get back home in decent shape, I know we’ll be OK. We have such great fans, and we’ve proven we can win at home, so I’m really looking forward to ending the season here. We just need to win as many games as we can before then and let things play-out. It was like this last year too and it was really good for us to play at home at the end of the season."

Marquette (23-20-3) currently sits in fourth place in the North Division with 49 points, four points behind third-place Alpena and five points ahead of the fifth-place U.S. National Team Development Program.

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