Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rangers head south for three games

The Marquette Rangers will head below the bridge this weekend hoping to earn six points in the North American Hockey League North Division.

The Rangers will play the Alpena IceDiggers at Northern Lights Arena Thursday night, followed by a two-game series Friday and Saturday night versus the Motor City Machine at Yack Arena in Wyandotte.

Following a split with the United States National Team Development Program, head coach Kenny Miller says his team is playing well, but needs to put together a full effort to be successful.

“We have to be better for 60 minutes,” Miller said. “When we sit back and don’t play our style, we get ourselves into trouble and that is what happened last weekend. When we’re able to put together a full three-period game we’re a very good hockey team. When we find that consistency level, our chances improve a great deal.”

Miller went on to say even though the distraction of the holiday break is approaching, he likes the attitude and character of this team.

“We have enough veteran leadership to get us through these next few games before the break," said Miller. "Personally, I think it is good to play on the road. The guys will eat together, bond together and it will give them a chance to just focus on hockey, which is what we need to do right now.”

Defenseman Mike Thompson says the team feels as though they’re heading in the right direction at the mid-point of the season

“We think we’re playing OK, but obviously there’s room for improvement,” Thompson said. “The nice thing is that we’re heading into the second half of the year and we haven’t peaked as a team yet. Last year, we were really good early, and then faded down the stretch. This year, we know we can still improve on a lot of different parts of the game and get better during the second half of the season.”

The Rangers are led in scoring by Chad Pietila with 26 points and Jimmy Gallagher with 23 points. Not far behind Gallagher is Aaron Pietila with 22 points on 10 goals to go along with 12 assists.

Marquette still remains in a fourth-place tie with the Ice Diggers at 26 points apiece. Both teams continue to chase the first-place Traverse City North Stars who are currently sitting at 33 points in the North Division standings.

The Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. Thursday in Alpena and at 7:10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Motor City.

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