Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rangers off to North Division Showcase

Following a three-point weekend in which the Marquette Rangers earned their first ever win against the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 squad, Marquette now heads to Boardman, Ohio, for the second annual North American Hockey League North Division Showcase hosted by Mahoning Valley.

Marquette (9-10-4, 22 pts.) will play three games over three days at both the IceZone and the Chevrolet Center. The Rangers will face the two-time defending Robertson Cup champions, the St. Louis Bandits, on Friday evening and the host Phantoms on Saturday evening before taking on Alpena Sunday afternoon.

“This is a great opportunity for our kids,” Rangers head coach Kenny Miller said. “They’ll get the chance to play in front of a lot of college scouts, which is always a good thing. We do have to make sure we go down there and do our job, though, and make sure to put on a good show for the people who are there to watch our guys.

“With three games in three days we know it will be a tough test as we have a tough schedule facing the defending champions and then the top team in our division (Mahoning Valley), so we know we need to be ready.”

Marquette has won three of their last four games to climb into fourth place in the North Division standings, two points behind the USNTDP heading into this weekend.

“We’re getting very good goaltending and we’re starting to figure things out as a team,” Miller added. “We’ve changed our style a bit with the personnel changes we’ve made, but we still need to play 60 minutes every night to have success and the past few weeks we’ve been doing that, so I like where we are heading into this weekend.”

James Gallagher and Chad Pietila continue to lead the team in scoring with 18 points apiece heading into the showcase. Eight Rangers players have scored in double digits for Marquette during the first quarter of the 2008-09 season.

Dan Sullivan continues to see the bulk of the workload in net for the Rangers. After seven games in a Rangers uniform, Sullivan has a 4-2-1 record and boasts a 2.12 goals-against average and a save percentage of .923.

This weekend’s action could see some separation in the North Division standings as Traverse City and Mahoning Valley are now tied for the top spot with 28 points apiece, followed by the USNTDP (who is not in the Showcase) with 24 points. Marquette has 22 points, Alpena 20, Motor City eight.

The Rangers return home next weekend to face the USNTDP Under-17 squad Friday and Saturday at Lakeview Arena.

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