Wednesday, December 03, 2008

NTDP, Teddy Bear Toss on tap for Rangers

For the first and only time in the month of December, the Marquette Rangers will skate at Lakeview Arena, taking on the U.S. National Team Development Program this Friday and Saturday evening.

Marquette (10-12-4, 24 pts) currently sits in a fourth place tie with the Alpena Ice Diggers in the North Division. Both Marquette and Alpena trail the NTDP by two points coming into this weekend.

The Rangers come into this series with mixed results from last weekends’ NAHL North Division Showcase hosted by Mahoning Valley.

“We are obviously not happy with the 1-2 record,” Marquette head coach Kenny Miller said. “The way we were playing before the Showcase, we felt as though we could get all six points, so to get two out of six points was not what we expected.

“In order for us to win we need our best players to be better than the other team's best players, and that really showed Saturday night (a 5-2 win over Mahoning Valley.) Unfortunately for us on Sunday, we got production from those players, but it wasn’t enough to get the win against Alpena.”

The Rangers return home to take on an Under-17 team that swept the Rangers earlier this season in Ann Arbor by scores of 4-0 and 3-2. John Hynes’ team continues to be lead in scoring by Emerson Etem and Matthew Nieto, two California natives each with 11 points on the season.

The NTDP did not play in the Showcase last weekend.

Miller knows his team has to be ready to play.

“We will continue to play our game plan, but may be more physical with them then we normally would,” Miller continued. “We will stick to the things that make us successful, which is competing, playing hard, and solid goaltending. If we can do that, it will translate into offensive and everything should work out accordingly.”

The Rangers are lead in scoring by Chad Pietila with 24 points (7g, 17a) and Jimmy Gallagher with 22 points on nine goals to go along with 13 assists. The Rangers have also been getting solid offensive production from their defensive corps this season. Defensemen Michael Thompson, Reed Rushing and Ryan McGrath are all in the top 12 among defensive players in scoring in the NAHL.


The Marquette Rangers will be conducting the team's first-ever “Teddy Bear Toss” this Friday night when they take the ice against the U.S. National Team Development Program. Once collected, the team will take all the stuffed animals to the Marquette General Foundation to be distributed among pediatric related units within Marquette General Health Systems.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity to have some fun with our fans and to help local kids,” said Rangers spokesman Mark Evans. “Other groups have conducted similar toy drives in the past and we certainly don’t want to take away from their efforts and the groups that they support. But unlike many toy drives where the animals go to charity, our bears and animals will go directly to kids who are in the hospital and away from family and friends.”

Evans added that some of the toys will go to help kids who may be facing serious distress and trauma.

“We’ve been told that MGH EMS has requested some of the animals to have for their ambulance crews," Evans said. "I have two kids and I know nothing calms a frightened child quite like a furry new friend. Sadly, some of these kids might be facing a scary situation with a sick or injured family member right in their own home, the place where they’re supposed to feel the safest. If crews in the field have these animals with them, that can go a long way to helping the situation.”

The only requirement is that the animals be new and that the store tags be attached if at all possible.

When and how the teddy bears are tossed at the game will also have a different twist to it. Fans are asked to hold their animals until the Rangers score their first goal of the game. To celebrate the goal, fans are asked to toss their animals out on to the ice. The Rangers players will then collect and bag the animals from the ice for distribution at the MGH Foundation.

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