Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rangers host North Stars for three-pack

The Marquette Rangers host first place Traverse City this Thursday through Saturday in a key three-game series for both North American Hockey League clubs.

The North Stars lead the Rangers by three points in the NAHL North Division race, with six points up for grabs this weekend.

The Rangers currently sit in third place in the division race two points behind the Janesville Jets. Marquette is only three points ahead of Motor City for fourth place in the division race.

Rangers head coach Kenny Miller says his team is anxious to get on the ice following two off-weeks over the past 20 days.

“We’ve had a really good week of practice so far,” Miller said. “Sometimes as a coach you worry about guys not coming back mentally ready to go, but the fact that we’ve looked pretty sharp so far shows me we’re ready to get back to playing.”

Miller added that the break was very well-timed for his club, as some players nursing injuries have had time to heal.

“For the first time in a while we’ll have our full lineup to choose from," Miller said. "Kevin Kissaw is healthy after his (meniscus) surgery so he’ll be ready to go this weekend and our other guys who were a little banged-up have had enough time to heal, so we feel good heading into this stretch of our schedule.”

Marquette, coming off a two game split with Motor City two weeks ago, continues to be led in scoring by Garrett Ladd and Marquette native Collin Saint-Onge. Four other Rangers are in double-digit scoring after 22 games this season.

Kissaw, who last played in Marquette’s 4-1 loss at Janesville on October 25, continues to be in the top five statistically among NAHL goaltenders with a goals-against of 2.11 per game and a save percentage of .941.

“Kevin brings a lot to the table for our club,” Miller added. “He’s our ‘go to guy’ and having him back and healthy should help us the rest of the way."

Traverse City swept two games from Marquette earlier this season at Centre Ice Arena and holds a four-point lead in the teams’ annual battle for the Charter Communications Challenge Cup the clubs have played for since the 2007 -08 season.

Face-off all three nights is at 7:30 p.m.

Rangers Hosting Several Events

Fans who attend games this weekend between the Marquette Rangers and the Traverse City North Stars will have several specials and chances to win during the three game series at Lakeview Arena.

Thursday night is “NMU Exam Night” as the team will offer special concession prices in the arena to celebrate the end of the semester. Fans need not be an NMU student to take advantage of the reduced prices.

On Friday, the Rangers will again team with Holiday Station Stores throughout Upper Michigan and host another “Rangers Hockey Gives Me Gas Night” with up to $300 of free gasoline up for grabs.

The popular promotion, now in its third year, has been a fan favorite, according to Rangers spokesman Mark Evans.

“We start the game with a $50 gift card,” Evans said. “For every goal the Rangers score, we add another $50 to the grand prize all the way up to $300. Our goal is to give it all away because that guarantees five goals being scored, and it gets the crowd into the game knowing that if they push the team to play well, someone in the crowd will benefit.

“In three years, we’ve given away the maximum amount four times, so we’re hoping for another big night on Friday.”

The Rangers are asking fans on Saturday to bring a stuffed animal to the game for the teams’ annual teddy bear toss. Fans are to hold on to the toy until the Rangers score their first goal of the game, then toss the stuffed animal on to the ice to celebrate the goal. Rangers players will then collect the toys, which will be distributed to local pediatric medical providers in Marquette County.

“Last year the animals were used in the area hospitals and were a huge hit," Evans added. "We’re hoping to top last year's success with this promotion."

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