Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rangers open second half at home

When the Marquette Rangers announced their North American Hockey League schedule this past July, team president and general manager David Saint-Onge called it the best schedule in team history.

With 16 of their last 25 games at home, the North Division team is hoping that those words were more prophesy than opinion.

The Rangers (15-14-4) have been off since December 20 due to the holidays and will begin the calendar year by entertaining the Alpena IceDiggers this Friday and Saturday at Lakeview Arena. Marquette and Alpena have been separated by three or fewer points in the North Division standings since early November.

“We’re ready to get back into it,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller. “It’s a long season, and we were ready for some time off after the first half of the year, but now it’s time to take advantage of the long rest and the fact that we have a ton of home games over the next three months.”

After a slow start, the Rangers ended 2008 by winning four out of their last five, including a three-game road sweep of Alpena and Motor City and a split at first-place Mahoning Valley.

“I like where we are as a team,” added Miller. “We’re getting scoring from a nice combination of veterans and newcomers and both our goaltenders are giving us the chance to win whenever we hit the ice, which is the key to any team's success. If we continue to play the way we’ve been playing, I’m confident our fans will see good things happen the second half of the year.”

Marquette continues to be led in scoring by cousins Chad and Aaron Pietilla, with Marquette native Jimmy Gallagher a close third. Chad Pietilla leads the way with 33 points (14g, 19a), while Aaron Pietilla has notched 30 points on 12 goals and 18 assists. Gallagher is a close third with 28 points on 11 goals and 17 helpers.

Kevin Kissaw (pictured) has seen the bulk of the workload for Miller's team in net over the past month, posting a record of 4-1 in the month of December. Overall, Kissaw is 10-6-2 on the season with a goals-against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .916.

So far this season, the Rangers and the IceDiggers have played eight times with Alpena holding a 5-3 record over Marquette on the season.

The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.


Rangers planning unique Fan Appreciation Night Friday

Fans attending Friday’s Rangers game will be given additional incentive to support the team as they battle Alpena at Lakeview Arena.

If the team wins against the IceDiggers on Friday, the team will offer every fan in attendance a free ticket to Saturday’s game against Alpena.

“It’s a unique spin on an old idea,” said Rangers spokesman Mark Evans. “We want to show our fans that we appreciate them being at our games, but we want them also to help us win on Friday against a very tough Alpena team. When Lakeview Arena is loud and the fans are having fun, our players have all said that they thrive on that energy. We want fans to have a good time, get into the game, help us win and then come back for free on Saturday when we hope to complete the sweep.”

If Marquette wins, fans will be given a free ticket on their way out of the rink at the main box office entrance on Fair Avenue. Fans will receive a comparable ticket to the one they purchased for Friday’s game and will only be able to receive a ticket for themselves.

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