Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Marquette finally back home at Lakeview

It’s been 34 days since the Marquette Rangers last played at Lakeview Arena.

Since that 6-3 win over Alexandria on Jan. 2, the Rangers have kept alive their playoff hopes in an ever-tightening North Division playoff race.

The only certainty in the division is that St. Louis will win the regular-season crown. The remaining five teams are all very much alive for the remaining three playoff positions. For Marquette (24-23-3), the run continues this Friday and Saturday at home against second-place Mahoning Valley (29-16-4.)

“It’s a very exciting time for all of us,” said Rangers head coach Randy Enders. “Every night is crucial, every shift becomes that much more important, every special-teams opportunity is multiplied in its’ importance. Every team in our division will be looking at the scoreboard every night - it’s a great time of year.”

Enders went on to say that when the schedule was announced last summer, the organization saw this home stretch as possibly being the difference in their season.

“We have six of our last eight at home which is rare, so we have an edge over the teams we’re battling right now," Enders said. "We need to take advantage of our building and our fans and use this opportunity to better our place in the standings.”

Marquette and Traverse City are tied for fourth place going into this weekend with 51 points apiece, six points behind third-place Alpena and three points ahead of the sixth-place U.S. National Team Development Program.

Traverse City, who is 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, is idle this weekend while Alpena hosts the USNTDP Under-17’s.

“We can get some separation this weekend if we play well and get points," said Enders. "It’s that simple."

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