The Kitchener Rangers marched to a penalty parade from which they were never able to fully recover, as the Owen Sound Attack skated to a 6-4 win in front of 3,026 fans at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers (27-17-2-2) were whistled for five minor penalties in the first period, surrendering four power play opportunities and two power play goals to the Attack in the opening frame, followed by another power play goal just over two minutes into the second period.
Kitchener would tally a pair of power play markers of their own in the game, which saw a total of 12 opportunities with the man advantage awarded between the two teams.
Connor Bunnaman scored his 25th and 26th goals of the season – accounting for both of the Rangers’ power play goals – to make it 3-2 in the second, but the Attack (32-13-1-1) would stave off the Rangers and prevent them from tallying an equalizer all afternoon.
Adam Mascherin finished with a goal and an assist, reaching the 30-goal milestone for the second consecutive season. Joseph Garreffa also chipped in with a pair of assists in the losing effort.
Luke Opilka (9-10-1-1) took the loss in goal for the Rangers, making 18 saves on 23 shots. Michael McNiven (26-7-1-1) allowed four goals on 24 shots in goal for the Attack and picked up the win.
With the Rangers facing a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation in the opening minutes of the game, the Attack would capitalize to take the early lead. Cordell James got credit for his 19th goal of the season, with the assists to Petrus Palmu and Santino Centorame at 8:20.
The Rangers killed off the second penalty, but were called again just 32 seconds later for their fourth infraction of the frame, this time for too many men. Owen Sound took advantage once again, as Kevin Hancock tallied his 21st of the season to give the Attack a 2-0 lead, from Centorame and James at 10:21.
The Attack outshot the Rangers in the opening period of play, 9-7.
Hancock scored his second power play goal of the game, and Owen Sound’s third goal with the man advantage to give the home team a 3-0 lead just 2:27 into the second period. Centorame and James each picked up their third points of the afternoon with the assists.
Under five minutes later Connor Bunnaman got the Rangers on the board, giving Kitchener a power play goal of their own as he beat McNiven with a one-timer from the hash marks. Cole Carter and Garreffa picked up the assists to make it a 3-1 game at 6:24.
Bunnaman’s second of the game – another power play goal – came at 9:05, cutting the Owen Sound lead to 3-2 from Mascherin and Garreffa.
Riley Damiani thought he notched the equalizer to make it a 3-3 game, but the goal was waved off after it was ruled the puck was batted in off his glove.
The Rangers held the Attack to just four shots on goal in the second period, taking a lead on the shot clock 14-13 through 40 minutes of play.
Aidan Dudas reclaimed a two-goal lead for the Attack at the 6:44 mark of the third period, making it 5-3 Owen Sound with the assist to Nick Pryce.
Mascherin’s 30th goal of the season again brought the Rangers to within one, 4-3, with a wrist shot that beat McNiven top-corner, glove side from Dylan Di Perna and Greg Meireles at 10:54, but the Attack would respond quickly, taking back a two-goal lead, 5-3, just 11 seconds later on a goal by Centorame, assisted by Dudas at 11:05.
Damiani once again found the back of the net but this time the goal would count, as the winger scored his 5th of the season to make it 5-4 at 13:21, from Giovanni Vallati.
With over a minute to play in the game, Opilka made his way to the Kitchener bench in favour of an extra attacker but the Rangers were unable to pot the tying goal, as Matt Schmalz scored into the empty net with 10 seconds to play to solidify the 6-4 Owen Sound victory.
Shots on goal in the third period were 11-10 Attack, for a game total of 24-24.
Kitchener was 2-for-5 on the power play, while the Attack were 3-for-7 with the man advantage.
With four successful penalty kills, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $40 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $1,550 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids in Gear.
Cordell James (OS) (3), Connor Bunnaman (KIT) (2) and Santino Centorame (OS) (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 are back in action on Wednesday, February 1st when they travel to London to take on the Knights at 7pm. They return home to the Aud on Friday, February 3rd when they host Jeremy Bracco and the Windsor Spitfires 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.