Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rangers readying for NAHL Showcase

Despite temperatures in the high 70s over the past week, the Marquette Rangers have been on the ice preparing for this Wednesday’s North American Hockey League season opener against the Texas Tornado at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn.

“We’re to the point where it will be good to play in an actual game instead of just practice,” said head coach Kenny Miller. “We had a successful exhibition weekend over in the Soo (against the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League) where we won two games against a good team, but to see how we play within our league will give us a much better idea of where we are and what we might need to work on.

“Obviously, we’re excited to try and improve on last year where we had some good things happen, but ultimately didn’t make the playoffs which is one of our main goals this season.”

The Rangers open the showcase Wednesday against a perennial NAHL power in the Texas Tornado. The Tornado organization was dormant last year while renovations were made to their rink in suburban Dallas, but have a strong history in the NAHL claiming three straight Robertson Cup championships from 2004-2006.

The game with Texas will also be a matchup involving four Tornado players who skated in Marquette prior to moving south. Forward Scott Deur, defenseman Brendan Bandyk and goaltender Dan Sullivan all skated for the Rangers last season, while Texas forward Josh Bussell was a Ranger in 2007-08 before being traded to the Motor City Machine.

Marquette will follow with games Thursday against the Wenatchee Wild and Friday against the Wichita Falls Wildcats before wrapping up the event Saturday against the Kenai River Brown Bears.

Marquette opens the home portion of the regular season September 25-26 at Lakeview Arena against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the West Division.

“We have a good blend of newcomers and veterans,” Miller added. “We’ll be strong in goal with Kevin Kissaw returning and the addition of Lukas Hafner. We have experienced defense and a strong core group of guys who can put the puck in the net, too, so we’re anxious to get on the bus and get the season underway.”

The Rangers have also named captains for the 2009-10 campaign. Garrett Ladd, a third-year Rangers forward has been named captain, while Collin Saint-Onge, Scott Henegar and Austin Accettura will act as assistants.

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