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Special teams struggles hands Rangers loss in London

 

Special teams was the difference maker for the Kitchener Rangers on Sunday night at Budweiser Gardens.

The Rangers (18-10-1-1) gave the London Knights (21-4-2-3) eight opportunities with the man advantage and the hosts capitalized, scoring three power play goals en route to a 6-2 win over the Blueshirts.

While their penalty kill had its struggles, the Rangers power play also couldn’t muster the results they would have hoped for, going 0-for-5 including a 5-on-3 opportunity and a five minute major to the Knights midway through the first period.

Kitchener had a difficult first period, falling behind 3-0 and never quite being able to climb back into the game.

The game also saw the season-long point streak of Jeremy Bracco come to an end. His 26-game point streak (17G, 34A) ranks second all-time in Rangers franchise history. The longest feat, 36 games, was set by Mike Morrison in the 1985-86 season.

Luke Opilka (3-4-0-0) took the loss in goal for the Rangers, surrendering six goals while making 26 saves.

Tyler Parsons (11-2-1-2) earned the win for the Knights with an impressive effort, allowing just two goals on 29 shots.

Olli Juolevi would open the game’s scoring at 10:26 of the first period giving London a 1-0 lead, from Robert Thomas and Janne Kuokkanen.

With under four minutes to play in the period Josh Nelson potted his second of the season, making it 2-0, from Sam Miletic at 16:12.

Just 40 seconds later the Knights would go up 3-0, as Brandon Crawley scored London’s first power play goal of the game, from Alex Formenton and Cliff Pu, at 17:02 to round out first period scoring.

Shots on goal were 10-8 in favour of the Knights in the first period of play.

Formenton would make it 4-0 at 11:47 of the second period, with Formenton’s second point of the night and seventh goal of the season, on the power play from Knights’ captain JJ Piccinich.

With the Rangers on another penalty kill, winger Nick McHugh forced a turnover and broke in on Parsons but was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. His shorthanded, penalty shot goal was his seventh goal of the season to make it a 4-1 game at 19:25 of the second.

Shots on goal in the second period were 14-9 in favour of the Knights for a two-period total of 24-17.

Five minutes into the third period Piccinich restored the four-goal lead for the Knights, tallying the hosts’ third power play goal of the game, from Juolevi and Crawley, at 5:01.

Nelson’s second of the game make it 6-1 from Piccinich and Crawley at 14:02.

With just under four minutes left to play Adam Mascherin make it 6-2 with his 22nd goal of the season, from Dylan Seitz, to round out the game’s scoring.

Final shots on goal were 32-32, including 15-8 Kitchener in the third period.

Kitchener was 0-for-5 on the power play, while Kingston each went 3-for-8 with the man advantage.

With five successful penalty kills, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $50 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $960 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids in Gear.

Piccinich (LDN) (3), Crawley (LDN) (2), and Nelson (LDN) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.

Dylan Di Perna and Darby Llewellyn each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers captain Frank Hora.

The Rangers once again take to the road to face another Midwest division rival, the Erie Otters, on Wednesday night, December 14 at 7pm.

The Blueshirts are back at the Aud on Friday, December 16 when they host the Sudbury Wolves at 7:30pm.

Regular season tickets to Kitchener Rangers home games are $22.50 each for adults, $18.50 for children 12 and under, including HST and are available in person or by calling the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Box Office or Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.

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