Thursday, November 05, 2009

Rangers host Jets, Army this weekend

The Marquette Rangers have hit a key portion of their schedule - heading into a nine-game home stand alone in second place in the North American Hockey League North Division.

The Rangers will face the expansion Janesville Jets this weekend at Lakeview Arena, seeking some redemption against the team that handed them a pair of losses last weekend in southern Wisconsin.

“We got off to such a great start this season that it started to be taken for granted by some in our locker room that we’d win just by showing up,” Rangers head coach Kenny Miller said. “We’ve been driving home to the guys this week that every shift, every period of every game, has to be skated one hundred percent or you don’t win in this league. I think they’ve responded well and understand that we need to work to be successful.”

Miller added that although losing is never good, being knocked down a few pegs in November is better than having it happen later in the year.

“We have plenty of time to get back to where we need to be," Miller said. "If we learn from our mistakes and move forward to the games we have this weekend, we’re confident that good things will happen for us. Playing these games at home will be a welcome addition as well.”

Some new faces will be in the lineup for Millers’ club this weekend as the team continues to add talent and searches to improve. Goaltender Kevin Kissaw will be having knee surgery to prepare meniscus damage, so the team has brought in Zac Enstrom from the Tulsa Rampage of the Western States Hockey League to share time with current goaltender Lukas Hafner. Enstrom spent time in the NAHL with Wichita Falls during the early part of the 2009 season, and was recommended to the Rangers by former Northern Michigan netminder Billy Pye.

Marquette has also added a forward Dane Shaugabay, who until this week was a member of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the NAHL West, and defenseman Tyler Vanscourt, who comes to Marquette from the Topeka RoadRunners of the NAHL South.

“Both of these guys were in situations where they weren’t getting the ice time they needed with the clubs they were with, so we're bringing them here to see if they can help us be a better hockey team,” Miller said.

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

The Rangers will host their third annual “U.S. Army Night” during Saturday’s game.

To honor the men and women who currently serve our nation, as well as all veterans who have performed military service to the United States in the past, the Rangers will be wearing custom-designed camouflage jerseys during the game. The jersey (pictured) features the “Rock” Rangers logo, with the mascot holding an M-16 and wearing military field gear. They also feature both a U.S. Army patch and well as an R.O.T.C. patch on each shoulder.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the U.S. Army over the years,” Rangers spokesman Mark Evans said of the event. “This game continues that relationship and takes it to the next level with our guys wearing camo on Saturday. We’re excited to host the Army and proud to honor all the men and women who are either active military or a veteran.”

Evans added that even though it’s “Army Night,” all branches of the service are encouraged to come.

“Anyone with a military ID, either active or a veteran, will be admitted for free to Saturday’s game," said Evans. "It’s a small gesture on our behalf, but a way for our guys to salute the men and women who have sacrificed and served this great country.”

United States Army personnel will be in attendance at the game that will feature several games and prizes for fans, and will also offer up one of the camouflage-style jerseys the team will be wearing in a free raffle during the game. No purchase is necessary to enter the raffle.

The jerseys will be given away at the conclusion of the game Saturday night.

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