(Photo courtesy of Flint Firebirds)
Call it a late birthday present to himself, perhaps, but Dawson Carty is now the proud owner of his first career Ontario Hockey League shutout.
Four days after his 20th birthday, the Mississauga native was flawless Saturday night, making 25 saves to backstop the Kitchener Rangers (36-9-5-0) to a 2-0 win over the Flint Firebirds (15-29-4-2) in front of 3,029 fans at the Dort Federal Event Center.
Carty, who is in his fourth season in the league, was sharp when needed and got plenty of help from his teammates who outshot the opposition by a 40-25 margin on the night, including 17-5 through one period of play, and 35-15 after two.
“I felt good,” Carty told 570 News, post-game. “The guys in front of me were blocking shots, and were great defensively. They were huge for me tonight.”
When asked if the shutout was something he had given a lot of thought to as the game approached the final buzzer, Carty remained his cool and collected self in his response.
“I had a couple chances to get it before in games and came close, but it feels good to finally get it tonight. Now it’s all about keeping it rolling.”
It’s the tenth win of the season for Carty (10-0-1-0), who remains undefeated in regulation this season.
At the other end of the ice a young Kyle Keyser (2-3-0-0) was impressive in his own right, as the 16-year-old rookie netminder stopped 38 of 40 shots he faced in a losing effort.
Rangers head coach Mike Van Ryn acknowledged the effort of the youngster, but also felt his team let some offensive opportunities escape them.
“I think their kid made some big saves, but we needed to create more traffic. On a nightly basis we are the type of team that prides ourselves on having a blue-collar mentality, and a team that gets in that blue paint area. Tonight I thought we got away from that.
“They are a hard working team and we have to be ready for them again on Friday.”
Brandon Robinson found the score sheet with his first goal in ten games, and hopes his two-point effort tonight will open the door to more offence as the playoffs draw near.
“It’s nice to put some points on the board and help the team offensively,” said Robinson. “I’m feeling more confident in myself and my game as of late.
“Tonight was another pair of important points for us, even though we didn’t play our best. We were on and off tonight, but we’ll build off this win tonight for next Friday and get ready to face them again back home.”
After a 0-0 first period stalemate, the Rangers opened the scoring after Flint’s Connor Sills was handed a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. Mason Kohn tipped in a Dylan Di Perna shot from the point to beat Keyser at 11:41, giving the Rangers the 1-0 lead, with Robinson picking up the second assist.
Robinson tallied his 12th goal of the season to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead with a shot from near the top of the right circle at 16:09 from Frank Hora and Kohn to round out the game’s scoring.
The Rangers were 1-for-5 on the power play, while they shut down the Firebirds’ five chances with the man advantage.
Keyser (3), Carty (2) and Kohn (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the Game.
Gustaf Franzen, Frank Hora and Brandon Robinson each wore ‘A’s and skated as alternates to captain Ryan MacInnis.
The Rangers return to action on Friday when they welcome the Firebirds back to the Aud for a 7:30pm start on February 12th.
The Rangers will take part in their 9th Annual Special Hockey Game on Monday, February 8th from 6:15pm-8:15pm at the Aud. Admission to the game is complimentary, and more information can be found at www.kitchenerrangers.com/page/special-hockey-benefit-game.
Tickets for the Rangers next home game, or any other future Rangers home games are available online at kitchenerrangers.com, by calling Centre in the Square, or through The Aud Box Office.