Rangers confident they can compete

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

KITCHENER -- The London Knights may have snapped Kitchener's eight-game playoff win streak but they sure didn't curb the Rangers' confidence. Had London won Game 1 of the OHL's Western Conference final Thursday night by a 5-0 count rather than let their opponents score twice in the third period to make it 3-2, it could have been a major ego blow.

But at Kitchener's light practice yesterday, it was business as usual, along with the feeling that the underdog Rangers can compete with the juggernaut Knights.

"A couple of goal posts we hit go the other way and we're talking about a very different story," said Rangers goalie Eric Pfligler, who will be between the pipes again tonight for Game 2 at Memorial Auditorium here.

"We were right there with them, so no, I don't think there's a need to change anything in our approach," Pfligler said.

The end-of-the-game fight between Rangers captain Michael Richards and the Knights' Corey Perry highlighted Kitchener's will to challenge London from opening whistle to third-period buzzer.

"A couple of the guys showed some character and we picked it up in the third period," said the Rangers' David Clarkson. "We just ran out of time.

"They scored a couple of goals early and we couldn't get all the way back. It showed if we come out with a good start in the first 10 minutes and protect home ice -- which we know we're going to have to do in this series -- we're going to be all right."

The Knights, who have played most of their best hockey on the road this postseason, know they're going into hostile territory tonight.

As of last night, the only tickets available -- $18.25 for adults -- were obstructed-view standing room in the arena restaurant.

"We're going to have to feed off the energy of the crowd and, hopefully, score a little earlier," Clarkson said.

The hard-charging forward stuck to his story that he didn't hear the Knights coach say anything from the bench to him in Game 1.

Rangers coach Peter DeBoer complained that Knights coaches were baiting some of his players.

"I'm the kind of guy who'll say something back if I hear something, but I didn't hear a thing," Clarkson grinned.

"I don't know what it's going to be like the rest of the series. We're just going to keep fighting hard."

It's a little early for must-wins but the Rangers know their route to success will be easier if they take care of business at home.

"We're down 1-0, so every game is big," said Kitchener's top defenceman, Andre Benoit. "But we took a lot of positives from the first game and we think that's going to help us."


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