Adam Mascherin registered his first career Ontario Hockey League hat trick, which included the Rangers’ 23rd annual Teddy Bear goal, but it was in a losing effort as the Windsor Spitfires (16-10-2-0) skated to an 8-5 win over the Kitchener Rangers (18-10-2-0) in front of 7,132 fans at The Aud on Tuesday night.
Mascherin’s first goal of the night was the first of the night for the Blueshirts and sent 10,908 bears to the ice – a new Rangers’ record for number of Teddy Bears thrown.
His third goal of the night propelled the Florida Panthers pick to 19 goals on the year, which places him third in league scoring and extended his personal goal-scoring streak to five games (eight goals, two assists).
The Spitfires jumped out to a 4-0, first period lead but the Rangers climbed back to make it a two-goal deficit before the opening period was out.
Three times the Rangers would battle back to within one, but the Spitfires took advantage of some defensive miscues and never allowed the Blueshirts to tie the game.
Cole Carter (1G, 1A) and Adam Liška were the other Kitchener goal scorers, while Connor Bunnaman chipped in with a pair of assists.
Luke Richardson (11-8-1-0) started in goal for the home team but was pulled in favour of Chris McGonigle after surrendering the first three goals on eight shots over 9:52 of play. McGonigle played the final 50:08 for the Rangers and was tagged for five goals on 29 shots.
Michael DiPietro (16-7-1-0) allowed five goals but picked up the win, making 38 saves.
The Spitfires took a 1-0 lead on the stick of Jake Smith, his sixth of the season from Hayden Johnston and Connor Corcoran at 3:57 of the opening frame.
Two and a half minutes later they were up 2-0, as Aaron Luchuk continued his torrid goal scoring pace with his 24th of the season, from Daniel D’Amico and Austin McEneny, at 6:27.
Near the midway point of the period the Spitfires would bank two more, as Lev Starikov potted just his second of the season, from Cole Purboo and Mathew MacDougall, at 9:52.
That ended the night of Kitchener starter Richardson, and in came McGonigle.
It was a rude welcome for McGonigle; the Spitfires scoring on their first shot on the fresh goaltender. Luke Boka made it 4-0 Windsor, from Corcoran and Kozhevnikov, just 53 seconds later at 10:45.
But the Rangers weren’t ready to roll over, and just under five minutes later finally gave their fans something to cheer about – and a reason to throw their furry friends onto the ice.
After two consecutive seasons of Bunnaman tallying the coveted goal, it was fellow 1998-born Mascherin who this year tickled the Teddy Bear twine. Mascherin’s 17th of the year cut the Windsor lead to 4-2, from Logan Stanley and Rickard Hugg.
They’d add another before the period was out, as Carter etched the scoresheet against his former team, making it a 4-2 game at 18:51 from Riley Damiani and Bunnaman.
After the six-goal first period of play, shots slightly favoured the Rangers, 14-13.
At 7:13 of the second period Mascherin tallied his second of the night, with Joseph Garreffa and Kyle Gentles earning the assists, and all of a sudden it was a one-goal game, 4-3.
With the Rangers poised to do some more damage with a power play opportunity, another shorthanded marker came back to bite them as Luchuk scored his 25th of the season, from Purboo, to put the Spitfires up 5-3 at 8:26.
On that same power play the Rangers would eventually use it to their advantage, as Liška registered his seventh of the season, from Carter and Giovanni Vallati, to make it a 5-4 game at 8:49.
Again the Spitfires would restore their two-goal lead, as Boka notched his second of the game under two minutes later from Tyler Angle and Chris Playfair at 11:32 to make it 6-4 Windsor.
Mascherin completed the hat trick in the final minute of the middle frame, joining the 20-goal club at 19:32 from Bunnaman and Kole Sherwood to keep the Rangers in it, 6-5, heading to the third period.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes of play favoured Kitchener, 28-26.
The Spitfires would control the third period of play, on the scoresheet at least, as Luchuk answered back with a hat trick of his own – his 26th of the season – from Smith and McEneny on the power play to make it 7-4 Windsor at 8:29.
The final goal of the game came from D’Amigo, his third of the season, unassisted, at 12:38.
Final shots on goal were 43-37, Kitchener.
The Rangers were 2-for-5 on the power play while the Spitfires were 1-for-2 with the man advantage.
Luke Boka (WSR) (3), Adam Mascherin (KIT) (2), and Aaron Luchuk (WSR) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Logan Stanley, Adam Mascherin, and Jake Henderson each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman.
The Rangers look to return to the win column at home on Friday night when they host the Flint Firebirds for a 7:30pm start. They round out their weekend on Sunday, December 10 when they travel to the Sleeman Centre to take on the Guelph Storm at 2pm.
Regular season tickets to all Kitchener Rangers home games are $23.00 each for adults, $19.00 for children 12 and under including HST, and are available in person or by calling the Activa Box Office at The Aud, from Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.
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