Kitchener, ON: The Erie Otters (25-34-3-1) were at The Aud for the final time this season to play the Rangers (31-29-3-1) who clinched a playoff berth with an 8-4 win over the visitors.
Joseph Garreffa (2G, 2A), Jonathan Yantsis (2G), and Greg Meireles (1G, 3A) led the way for the Rangers offensively and Luke Richardson saved 35 in the win.
FULL GAME REPORT
The Rangers opened up the scoring early on Friday night. At 2:51, Joseph Garreffa took a pass from Alexey Lipanov at the side of Cole Ceci’s net and tapped in his 28th of the season to make it 1-0.
Reid Valade also picked up an assist on the opening goal.
Garreffa’s goal meant his point streak was extended to 11 games.
Shortly after, at 4:36, Jonathan Yantsis netted his team-leading 43rd goal of the year when he backhanded a puck in-close on the net to put the Rangers up 2-0.
Michael Vukojevic and Greg Meireles each earned assists on the insurance goal.
At 9:11 the Otters got one back on the Rangers when a turnover in the neutral zone led to a break for Hayden Fowler who deked around Luke Richardson to score and make it 2-1.
Near the end of the first period, at 18:29, an incredible effort by Valade to skate into the offensive zone, beat his man, and make a cross-ice pass to Garreffa resulted in a goal for the blueshirts that made it 3-1 going into the first intermission.
Kitchener outshot Erie after 20 minutes, 14-9.
The Rangers extended their lead at 13:42 of the second period when Donovan Sebrango passed the puck to Arber Xhekaj who skated past his defender and wristed home his second goal of the season to make it 4-1.
Shortly after, at 15:19, the Rangers scored a powerplay goal when captain Rickard Hugg cleaned up Ceci rebound to score his 28th and put the home side up 5-1.
37-seconds later, Erie got one back when Danial Singer fired a shot from the faceoff circle on Richardson’s right-side that ended up on the back of the net to make it 5-2.
The Otters weren’t done there. Emmett Sproule scored his 11th at 17:40 and just like that, the Rangers lead was down to two, 5-3, going into the second intermission.
The period would end with the Rangers up in shots 26-22.
At 5:45 of the third period, Yantsis scored his second of the night after the right winger collected a pass in front of the net from Damiani and made good on the opportunity to net his 44th. 6-3.
Garreffa also assisted on the goal, bringing his game point total to three.
One minute and three seconds later, Vukojevic, off a pass from Meireles, made a long cross-ice pass to Petizian who beat Ceci high, glove-side to extend Kitchener’s advantage to 7-3.
At 7:46, Sproule scored his second goal of the game when he went high on Richardson’s blocker-side from in-close to make it 7-4.
Greg Meireles added an empty-netter for the Rangers at 17:43 while shorthanded to seal the deal for Kitchener, 8-4.
Erie outshot the Rangers 39-35.
The Rangers next home game is on Friday, March 15 at 7:30 pm vs the Owen Sound Attack. The next road game for Kitchener is on Sunday, March 10 at 4:00 pm vs the Guelph Storm.
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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