The Owen Sound Attack (48-15-2-2) were potent on the power play, going 5-for-6 with the man advantage to hand the Kitchener Rangers (36-27-3-2) a 7-2 defeat in front of 3,271 fans at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Saturday night.
It was the final game of the 2016-17 regular season for the sixth-place Rangers, who still await their first-round opponent for the OHL playoffs; which very well may be the Attack.
Following an Erie victory over the Guelph Storm, the Otters clinched first place in the western conference standings and have therefore been eliminated as a potential first-round opponent of the Rangers, leaving only the Attack and the London Knights as possible suitors.
The Knights were also victors tonight after a win over the Flint Firebirds, so the Attack currently maintain third place in the western conference standings with 48 wins and 100 points. The Knights now have 46 wins and 99 points.
The Attack cap off the regular season tomorrow at Guelph, while the Knights close out their schedule in Sault Ste. Marie.
If the Owen Sound Attack pick up a single point tomorrow, they will play the Rangers in Round One of the OHL playoffs, regardless the outcome of the Knights’ game.
The only way the Rangers will meet the Knights in Round One of the OHL playoffs is if Owen Sound loses in regulation, paired with a Knights win.
Tonight’s game between the Rangers and Attack certainly had the feel of a potential first-round playoff matchup as 63 minutes of infractions were called on the night, resulting in 11 opportunities with the man advantage between the two teams.
Although the game meant nothing in terms of playoff positioning for the Rangers, it held plenty of value for Adam Mascherin, who reached the 100-point mark on the season; and rookie Liam Peyton, who skated in his first OHL game and registered his first OHL goal.
Michael McNiven (40-9-2-2) reached a milestone himself with his 40th win of the season, making 24 saves on 26 shots.
Luke Richardson (9-6-0-0) was much busier at the other end of the ice, facing a barrage of 46 Owen Sound shots while making 39 saves in the losing effort.
The Attack opened the game’s scoring on the stick of Nick Suzuki, his 45th of the season, from Kevin Hancock and Jonah Gadjovich at the 5:20 mark of the first period.
Gadjovich tallied his 44th of the season to give the Attack a 2-0 lead, from Petrus Palmu and Santino Centorame on the power play at 14:30.
The Attack led 2-0 into the first intermission, with shots on goal 13-8 in favour of Owen Sound.
Riley Damiani cut the home team’s lead to 2-1 on the power play with his ninth goal of the season at 4:24 of the middle frame, with Mascherin’s primary assist earning him his 100th point on the season. Joseph Garreffa earned the additional helper.
Cordell James regained the two-goal lead for Owen Sound inside of five minutes to play in the period to make it 3-1 Attack with his 34th of the season, from Markus Phillips and Ethan Szypula.
Palmu became the third member of the Attack to reach 40 goals on the season at 17:02, making it a 4-1 game from Suzuki and Centorame, again on the power play.
Shots on goal in the second period were 14-9 Owen Sound for a two-period total of 27-17, favouring the Attack.
In his first OHL game, 2016 draft selection Liam Peyton scored his first Ontario Hockey League goal to make it 4-2 with one second remaining on a Rangers’ power play, with the lone assist to Eric Guest just 2:36 into the third period.
However, it was all Attack from thereon out, as Owen Sound would respond with three more goals in the third period – all on the power play.
Chase Campbell tallied his 14th of the season at the 10:37 mark, giving the Attack a 5-2 edge with Szypula picking up the lone assist.
With the Rangers in the box with just under six minutes to play, Damiani broke in on McNiven for a shorthanded breakaway but was interfered with and was awarded a penalty shot at 14:29, but the Owen Sound netminder turned him aside to keep the score at 5-2.
Hancock reached the 30-goal milestone to make it 6-2 Attack, from Cordell James and Suzuki at 15:46, before Markus Phillips rounded out the game’s scoring with his 13th of the campaign with 1:04 to play from Szypula and Sean Durzi.
19-9 Owen Sound were the shots on goal in the final frame for a game total of 46-26, in favour of the Attack.
Kitchener was 2-for-5 on the power play, while Owen Sound was 5-for-6 with the man advantage.
With one successful penalty kill, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $10 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $1,990 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids in Gear.
Jonah Gadjovich (OS) (3), Petrus Palmu (OS) (2), and Santino Centorame (OS) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Dylan Di Perna, Adam Mascherin and Connor Bunnaman each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Frank Hora.
Tickets to the first two Kitchener Rangers’ home playoff games (Games ‘A’ & ‘B’) of Round One are on sale now 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.