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Jordan Ercit Photo

Jordan Ercit Photo

Max Iafrate (suspended, second fight same stoppage against Belleville) is one of several Kitchener Rangers players who will miss time this weekend.

Rangers gameday: New-look Otters in town

By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff

The Kitchener Rangers wrap up the first half of the season on Saturday, the tail end of a home-and-home series with the Erie Otters that starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The Aud.

KITCHENER NOTES: The Rangers head into Christmas break hoping for a couple presents in their stocking — enough warm bodies to fill the roster and a few more goals.

Ty Learn, Jesse Young, Keli Grant and possibly Kegan Blasby have been called up with half a dozen players injured, suspended or off to their respective world junior national team camps.

The Rangers are coming off a disappointing loss to the lowly Ottawa 67’s and the stingy Belleville Bulls, and slid below Guelph — the third team in the division to reach the 20-win mark — as a result.

Burly forward Ben Thomson has carried the offence of late, with goals in three of his last four games, while Franky Palazzese continued to build on his November goalie of the month credentials, stopping 60 of 64 shots last weekend.

ERIE NOTES: The Otters, meanwhile, head into the break looking to impress their new head coach, lifelong Western Hockey Leaguer Kris Knoblauch, who led the Kootenay Ice to a league championship in 2010-11.

Erie hasn’t fared much better since Robbie Ftorek was let go, dropping four of five games, including an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Guelph Storm. On the other hand, they did beat Ottawa 6-2 the night before and are trying to adapt to a more up-tempo stye.

Keep an eye on the status of goalie Oscar Dansk (Sweden) and Adam Pelech (Canada), leaving and returning from world junior camps.

POST SEZ: The Rangers coaching staff of Fixter, Troy Smith and Mike McKenzie will be looking for quality of execution this weekend.

Creating chances against Ottawa wasn’t the problem necessarily — the Rangers had the advantage 20-8 in their favour according to team staff. Finishing, however, was. In the words of Fixter, “It’s time to get it done.”

jercit@kitchenerpost.ca

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