Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Marquette hosts Alpena this weekend

The Marquette Rangers are off to their best start in franchise history and will look to maintain first place in the North American Hockey League North Division race against the Alpena IceDiggers at Lakeview Arena this weekend.

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

The Rangers (7-1, 14 pts.) lead second-place Traverse City (6-3, 12 pts.) heading into this weekend’s action. The Motor City Metal Jackets sit in third place (3-1-3, 9 pts.) with the Janesville (Wis.) Jets fourth at 4-5, good for eight points, while Alpena is fifth at 2-7, good for four points.

If history is any indication, it should be a competitive weekend despite the fact that it’s first place against last place. Alpena leads the all-time series between the two teams, 28-12, over the past three seasons, and holds a commanding lead in games played at Lakeview Arena since 2006.

Rangers head coach Kenny Miller, who came to Marquette from Alpena after the 2007-08 season, is 5-8 against his former club heading into this weekend.

But the Rangers have been hot, and have been getting solid play to this point on both ends of the ice. Goaltender Kevin Kissaw is 6-1 on the season with two shutouts and an NAHL-leading 1.55 goals-against average to compliment a .959 save percentage. Kissaw has twice been named the NAHL GDI Goalie of The Week for his efforts over the past two weeks as the team swept both Fairbanks and Motor City.

Scoring has been balanced offensively between rookies and veterans to start the season. Garrett Ladd leads the team in scoring with 13 points on five goals and eight assists, with newcomer Andrew Kolb keeping pace with 10 points (6g, 4a.)

The IceDiggers have struggled in the early going this season, and only feature one player (Nick Taurence) in double-digit scoring with 12 points on five goals and seven helpers. Taurence is the brother of current Rangers defenseman Nate Taurence.

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