Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Final weekend on tap for Marquette

To say the final three regular season games in front of the Marquette Rangers this weekend are important might be the understatement of this new decade.

Marquette sits in second place behind Traverse City, with the North Stars in town Thursday night to battle the Rangers at Lakeview Arena. Marquette is three points ahead of third place Janesville in the North American Hockey League North Division race with the Jets coming to Lakeview Friday and Saturday.

“We’re going to find out a lot over the next few days,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller. “If we play well, we can win the division. If we don’t, we could finish without home ice for the playoffs. It’s pretty simple what has to happen.”

Miller was cautious, though, when asked about how his team was reacting to the opportunity on front of them this weekend.

“We’re 55 games into the season, so I would expect our guys to understand what’s at stake and what we need to do over the next few nights," said Miller. "We’ll need everyone to show up all three nights (and) we’ll have to work extremely hard all three games if we’re going to have a good result. No one is a rookie anymore, so I expect our guys to react to the situation and give it 100 percent.”

Miller also mentioned the fact that the Rangers play well at home as being a positive factor for his club. On the season, Marquette is 18-6 on home ice, but is 1-2 against Janesville at Lakeview. The Rangers are 5-1 at home, however, against Traverse City.

Miller added that his club is searching for some much-needed momentum after going 1-4 over their last two weekends, both of them away from home.

“We want to get things going in the right direction so that no matter where we are or who we play, we’re feeling good about who we are and what we do,” he said.

Forward Tanner Kero continues to lead both the team and the NAHL in goal production as the final weekend looms in the league. The Hancock native and Michigan Tech recruit scored twice last Friday at Traverse City, putting him at 32 markers on the season to go with 19 assists for 51 points.

Andrew Kolb and team captain Garrett Ladd of downstate Fenton lead the team in overall scoring with 61 points apiece. Kolb has 23 goals and 38 assists, while Ladd has scored 21 goals to go with 40 helpers on the season.

Kevin Kissaw (pictured) has continued to carry most the load in net for the Rangers down the stretch. The Goodrich native sports a 23-15-1 record on the season with a goals-against average of 2.76 and a save percentage of .918.

All three games Thursday-Saturday begin at 7:30 p.m. at Lakeview Arena.

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