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Preseason Thoughts

As the days get shorter and September creeps even closer, the excitement for the upcoming hockey season builds even more. As it stands we are only 8 days from the opening of training camp and there are many questions that surround this Ranger squad before camp has even opened.

One of those questions is in net. The Rangers currently have 3 goalies on their roster, including last years backup Mike Morrison (Moe), newcomer from Kingston Frank Palazzese, as well as Anaheim draft pick and NCAA de-committer John Gibson. The question now is, which one of these three will be the starter, and which one will be on their way out of town?

At this point, the obvious option is for Moe to leave. He’s been with the Rangers for two seasons now as the backup and it’s time that he gets his shot as a number one goalie in the OHL. However, Ranger fans as well as coach/GM Steve Spott have been waiting for John Gibson to report since he was drafted in 2009. Now that he is finally here, it is likely that he will become the number one goalie, with Palazzese playing backup. In my opinion, Mike Morrison is a stellar goaltender who will make an impact with a team in the OHL this season. However that team will not be the Kitchener Rangers.

The second order of business surrounds almost every OHL team at this point in the season. Who will be team captain this year? There seems to be two obvious choices.

Michael Cattenaci is a guy who plays with a lot of heart and soul, and he likes to fire up his teammates. On the ice he gets in the face of his opponents and despite his short stature, never backs down. Entering his fourth season with the Rangers, his experience with the team will definitely be a major point for him to be team captain.

The second choice is, naturally, Ryan Murphy. Murph just finished an excellent sophomore season with the club, coming off a great rookie season prior to that. He was second only to Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires as top point scoring defense men in the league. Drafted 12th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes, Murphy will be looked up to by the rookies of this Ranger squad, and will be expected to show them what it takes to win in this league.

The final question for the team is who will fill the three overage spots on the roster. Currently on the Rangers website, there are seven 1991 born players. They include Cattenaci, along with Jonathon Jasper, Cody Sol, Julian Melchiori, Chad Lowry, Michael Hasson and Ryan Lopes. Only three of these players can remain with the team this season. I fully expect these to be Cattenaci, Jasper and Melchiori. There is a very good chance that Sol will be sent to St. John's to play for the Winnipeg Jets farm team in the AHL. Lowry, Hasson and Lopes did not have very strong seasons last year. Both Hasson and Lopes were traded here midway through last year, and both only played 3 games during the playoffs. If coach Spott didn't have enough faith to play them during the playoffs, they'll have to have a very strong camp to prove they belong. As for Lowry, he's only been an average player during his time on East Ave. I think a strong camp from him and a weak camp from Jasper could result in him returning, but I won't be holding my breath.

All in all it's going to be a very exciting season. Somewhat of a rebuilding season, but a talented team nonetheless. Here's to another exciting season of OHL hockey.

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