Rangers hope to im­prove on bench­mark ’09-’10 sea­son

Orleans Star - - SPORTS -

om­ing off their best show­ing in re­cent years with a 35-21-6 record last sea­son, the Glouces­ter Rangers have their sights set even higher en­ter­ing the 2010-11 Jr. ‘A’ cam­paign in the freshly-re­branded Cen­tral Hockey League.

“I think, all around, we’re hop­ing to be bet­ter,”says Rangers head coach Rick Dor­val, not­ing a team goal will be to again fin­ish in the league’s top four and earn home­ice ad­van­tage for the play­offs. “We’d just like to build off last year’s suc­cess and con­tinue to ad­vance as an or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Glouces­ter is with­out last year’s No. 2 scorer Stephen Blun­den – who will be­gin his Cana­dian In­teruni­ver­sity Sport ca­reer this fall – but the team’s other ma­jor weapons re­main in­tact oth­er­wise in the Rangers’ ex­pe­ri­enced lineup.

Lead­ing the of­fen­sive at­tack will be 103point man An­drew Crep­pin – who is ex­pected to serve as Glouces­ter cap­tain de­spite not dress­ing dur­ing the pre-sea­son – along with Nick Vi­doni, Michael We­b­ley and off-sea­son ac­qui­si­tion Brock Plouffe, a for­mer 34-goal scorer with the Cum­ber­land Grads.

Dor­val be­lieves the blue line led by Sean Blun­den and Richard Pen­ning should be stronger this year thanks to the ad­di­tion of Or­léans na­tive Jor­dan Fe­quet from Kanata, along with BradVaughn from Kemptville and U.S.-born Joe Catalano.

Glouces­ter en­joyed a “very com­pet­i­tive” train­ing camp that came with a few sur­prises, Dor­val says, high­light­ing for­mer Ot­tawa Sting for­ward David Kil­rea, who was sec­ond in Rangers scor­ing dur­ing the pre-sea­son with seven goals and four as­sists in eight con­tests.

“David’s a kid that showed up to our prospect camp and has done ev­ery­thing he can to make a spot on this team,”Dor­val adds. “He’s filled the net, played phys­i­cal and is mak­ing ev­ery­body else’s life mis­er­able.”

The goalie po­si­tion – a sore spot for last year’s squad as they cy­cled through four dif­fer­ent start­ing net­min­ders – re­mains a bit of a ques­tion mark this year for the club, which hadn’t picked a No. 1 as of last week. The Rangers hope they have the an­swer, how­ever, in one of their two out-of-league signees, Max Diz­gun or El­liot Daigneault.

The over­all out­look has Dor­val op­ti­mistic the 2010-11 sea­son will be a mem­o­rable one as his Rangers try to nar­row the gap be­tween them­selves and last year’s league fi­nal­ists, Pem­broke and Brockville.

“It’s a pretty ex­cit­ing time for us here,” says the sec­ond-year head coach who prom­ises a more dis­ci­plined team than the one that was elim­i­nated in six games by Ot­tawa in the first round of last year’s play­offs. “We’re go­ing to com­pete ev­ery night to make sure we’re al­ways a threat to play against.” The Glouces­ter Rangers see their first reg­u­lar sea­son game ac­tion at 2 p.m. on Satur­day, Sept. 11 dur­ing the league’s an­nual show­case event, to be held at Kanata Rec Cen­tre. The Rangers’ home opener goes at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 when they host the Cum­ber­land Grads at Earl Arm­strong Arena.

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