Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rangers host U.S. NTDP this weekend

When the U.S. National Team Development Program arrives in Marquette for their two-game set with the Marquette Rangers, it will be the beginning of a 16-game stretch for Marquette where 13 of those 16 will be played at Lakeview Arena.

That’s good news for Kenny Miller's club. So far this season, the Rangers have played 12 games on home ice, winning nine of them.

The games will also be important for Marquette as the Rangers now trail the NTDP by a single point for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. Adding to the importance of the weekend series is the fact that the NTDP has played nine fewer games than Marquette, a potential 18-point swing in the standings.

Going into this weekend’s action, Alpena stands alone in third place with 45 points, while Mahoning Valley continues to top the North Division with 51 points - two points ahead of second-place Traverse City.

So far this season the Rangers and the NTDP have played six times and Team USA holds a 4-2 edge over Marquette.

Head coach John Hynes’s team has been led in scoring most of the season by his front line of Matt Nieto, Luke Moffatt and Emerson Etem. Moffatt has 12 goals in league play to pace the line in goal production, while Nieto is the overall leading scorer on the team with 20 points on seven goals and 13 assists.

Marquette is led in scoring by Chad Pietila’s 38 points (17g, 21a). James Gallagher and Aaron Pietila continue to keep pace in second and third place respectively.

Friday’s game will start approximately 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Marquette Senior High School game against Gaylord which is part of the two organizations’ “Hockey Night In Marquette” festivities. Saturday’s game will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Lakeview Arena.

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