Guelph, ON: It was another rendition of the Highway Seven rivalry. This time the Rangers (26-24-3-1) traveled eastbound to the Sleeman Centre to play the Storm (29-16-6-4) in what could be a first-round playoff matchup in a month’s time.
The Rangers scored three goals in the first period, two by Rickard Hugg and one by Jonathan Yantsis, and never looked back, beating their midwest division rivals 5-2.
Riley Damiani, the game’s first star, had a goal and two assists, and Joseph Garreffa had one goal and one assist. Luke Richardson stopped 28 shots in the win.
FULL GAME REPORT
The Rangers opened up the scoring early in the game. At 3:28, when Ryan Stepien was in close on the Storm netminder Anthony Popovich. Stepien hacked at the puck which went cross-crease onto Rickard Hugg’s stick and into the net for his 26th of the season to make it 1-0.
Riley Damiani also earned an assist on the game’s opening goal.
On the Rangers second powerplay of the game, Joseph Garreffa made a pass to Damiani who rifled a pass onto the stick of Jonathan Yantsis who was open in front of the net on Popovich’s left side, and the Rangers leading goalscorer earned his 38th to make it 2-0.
Then, at 17:56, Hugg scored his second of the night, on an assist from Meireles, when he wired home his 27th from the hash marks to make it 3-0.
The period would come to an end with the Rangers on the powerplay and leading in shots, 12-6.
Guelph came out with a renewed momentum to start the second period. At 1:48, Owen Lalonde fired a shot that deflected off a Rangers player in front of the net to beat Luke Richardson to make it 3-1.
Not to be outdone, Kitchener restored their three-goal lead when Damiani came streaking down the left wing, cut into the middle of the ice in front of a Storm defender, and slid the puck past Popovich for his 21st goal of the year and third point of the night. It was 4-1 Rangers.
Stepien and Kyle Gentles picked up assists on the fourth goal.
The Rangers took five penalties in the second period, but Richardson and the special teams’ units were able to keep the three-goal lead intact heading into the second intermission.
The Rangers led in shots after 40 minutes, 22-20.
At 6:40 of the third period, Alexey Toropchenko hit Isaac Langdon in the head as he skated into the offensive zone. The hit resulted in a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct to the Storm player.
On the ensuing powerplay, Guelph found themselves breaking out of the neutral zone in a three-on-one and a cross-ice pass from Nick Suzuki to Mackenzie Entwhistle led to a shorthanded Storm goal to make it 4-2.
With just 48 seconds left in the third period, the Rangers found themselves on an odd-man break heading into Guelph’s end and Greg Meireles passed to Garreffa who scored his 19th to seal the win for the Rangers, 5-2.
Guelph outshot Kitchener 30-28.
The Rangers next home game is on Friday, February 22 at 7:30 pm vs the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. The next road game for Kitchener is on Sunday, February 17 at 2:00 pm vs the Ottawa 67s.
Tickets still available for all regular season home games. Purchase yours in person at the Activa Box Office at The Aud or Centre in the Square Box Office, by phone (519) 578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, or online.
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