Thursday, October 22, 2009

Challenge Cup series renewed Friday

The top spot in the North American Hockey League North Division will be on the line this weekend as the Marquette Rangers travel to Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City Saturday and Sunday to take on the second-place North Stars.

The weekend will also mark the first two games in the newly re-named Charter Communications Challenge Cup series between the two teams. Traverse City has claimed the trophy each year dating back to the 2007-08 season when it was first introduced.

“I love playing in these games,” Rangers forward Josh Bussell said Wednesday. “The intensity is always really high between us and them, and if we don’t give 110 percent every shift, we won’t win - it’s that simple. Our job is to go out and play the way we’ve been playing so far this season, work our butts off and hope for good things to happen.”

Bussell added that the rivalry between the two teams in complimented by the similarity of the two organizations, and the cities they represent.

“Marquette and T.C. are a lot alike,” he said. “The games there are loud and fun to be at, just like here at Lakeview with all of our fans. The atmosphere when we come to town is like it is here when they come to Marquette. The communities are similar, so those things just add to the rivalry between us and them.”

The Rangers, fresh off a sweep of Alpena at Lakeview Arena, continue to be led in scoring by a combination of veterans and newcomers. Third-year forward Garrett Ladd leads the team with 15 points on six goals and nine assists, while rookies Brent Bain and Andrew Kolb each have 13 points apiece. Marquette native Collin Saint-Onge has tallied five goals and six assists for 11 points.

Marquette’s Kevin Kissaw (9-2, pictured) continues to lead all NAHL goaltenders with a 1.44 goals-against average and a save percentage of .959.

Traverse City split with the Janesville Jets last weekend, winning 5-4 Friday, before falling to the Jets 6-3 Saturday evening. Marquette travels to Janesville next weekend.

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