Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rangers and IceDiggers home-and-home set

Most coaches talk about taking advantage of opportunity.

Marquette Rangers head coach Kenny Miller is no different, especially when it comes to his team playing the Alpena IceDiggers.

“We’re neck-and-neck with them for the final playoff spot in our division,” Miller said. “We get them at home Friday and then have to go to their place Saturday and Sunday, so obviously these are six very important points for our club this weekend.

“Our schedule is heavily loaded with home games the second half of the season, so we need to make sure we start playing to our capabilities and use that to our advantage. Our guys know what’s at stake and I’m confident we’ll be OK if we can put together a solid effort every night.”

Marquette trails Alpena by a single point in the race for third place in the North American Hockey League North Division, while the Rangers are six points ahead of the U.S. National Team Development Program. The NTDP has played 10 fewer games than Marquette, a potential 20-point swing by the end of the season.

“We need to take care of our business,” Miller added. “If we can do that, good things will happen for us as we hit the home stretch of the season.”

Marquette continues to be led in scoring by Chad Pietila (16g 21a, 37 pts.) with James Gallagher (32 points on 14 goals and 18 assists) and Aaron Pietila (30 points on 12 goals and 18 assists) close behind.

Alpena’s Erik Peterson continues to lead the offensive attack for the IceDiggers with 33 points on 13 goals and 20 assists on the season. Ryan Timar is a distant second in scoring with 21 points (7g 14a.)

The Rangers and the IceDiggers have played nine games already this season with the IceDiggers holding a 6-3 advantage heading into this weekend’s three-game series.

The pock drops at Lakeview Arena Friday night at 7:30.

Promotions Planned for Friday

Several unique promotions are planned for the game Friday evening at Lakeview Arena.

First, the team has designated the game as NMU Student Night. Any NMU student, with valid student ID, who attends Friday’s game is invited to bring a classmate to the game for free. Both must have a valid NMU ID to take advantage of the price reduction.

“It’s basically a two-for-one deal,” said Rangers spokesman Mark Evans. “We get a good group every night from Northern, so we thought it would be a good gesture to give them a reduced rate for this game.”

Friday’s game has also been designated as U.S. Army Night. Army representatives will be on hand with an electronic shooting game and a chance for one lucky fan to win an iPod during the game, along with other prizes.

The Army will also be swearing-in over 50 new recruits during the first intermission on the ice.

“We did this last year and the response was tremendous,” Evans added. “It's a chance for folks at the game to recognize these young people and their commitment to our country. It was a very moving ceremony last year and we’re excited that the Army wanted to come back and do it again this year.”

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