Scott Harrington scored the game winner for the London Knights as they defeated the Kitchener Rangers 6-4 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday. Austin Watson recorded two goals for the Knights, while team scoring leader Seth Griffith scored once and set up another. Tobias Rieder scored two short-handed goals for the Rangers in the loss. London takes a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.
The Knights got on the board first, opening the scoring less than five minutes into the opening frame. After London’s first shot bounced high, blueliner Olli Maatta found the puck and fired a sharp angle shot over Rangers goaltender John Gibson. The Finnish import’s second of the season was assisted by Matt Rupert.
It looked like the Knights would take a 1-0 lead into intermission, but the Rangers evened the score late. With 0.1 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Ryan Murphy fired a buzzer-beating shot from the face-off circle that beat Knights netminder Michael Houser glove-side. Assisting on the defenseman’s second of playoffs were wingers Zach Lorentz and Tyler Randell.
The Rangers out-shot London 14-6 in the first period.
The Knights struck first in the second period, re-establishing their one-goal lead. Gibson was able to make the first save, but the rebound bounced to Austin Watson at top of crease. The fourth-year centre shifted the puck to his backhand and threw it by the right pad of Gibson for his team-leading seventh of the postseason, with assists from Tommy Hughes and Andreas Athanasiou.
The Rangers took the lead with two quick goals midway through the frame. With Cory Genovese in the box for cross-checking, Kitchener’s penalty kill went to work. Murphy collected the puck and raced down the wing before wiring a pass to Tobias Rieder in front of the London net. The league-scoring leader chipped the puck blocker-side past Houser to record his second shorthanded goal of the playoffs.
Rieder would add a second shorthanded goal just 39 seconds later, on the same penalty kill. This time it was Michael Catenacci streaking over the line and firing a shot on Houser, with his linemate there to collect the rebound and fire it into the back of the Knights’ net. Rieder leads the Ontario Hockey League with 13 goals and 27 points this postseason.
Kitchener scored their third goal of the period five minutes later, capitalizing on the power play and taking a 4-2 lead. Murphy found the puck near the corner and moved it to Andrew Crescenzi in the slot. The veteran forward slid it to Catenacci, who settled it and fired glove side past the London keeper for his seventh of the playoffs. The Rangers captain sits second in league-scoring with 26 points this spring. Murphy has recorded 19 playoff points, the highest total amongst OHL defenseman.
Rangers continued to lead shots on goal, doubling the Knights 16-8 in the second period.
London closed the gap to one goal seven minutes into the final frame. Josh Anderson slid the puck under the pad of Gibson, recording his second of the postseason with assists from Maatta and rookie Max Domi.
The Knights continued to press and tied the game at 4-4 with under five minutes to play. Vladislav Namestnikov and Seth Griffith raced into the Kitchener zone shorthanded and Griffith, the team’s scoring leader, found the back of the net for the sixth time this postseason.
With less than one minute remaining in the contest, Scott Harrington’s first of the playoffs put London on top. Jarred Tinordi and Griffith each picked up an assist on the rearguard’s game winner.
Watson would find the empty net with 13 seconds to play, picking up his second goal of the night and making the final score 6-4 London.
The Knights out-shot the Rangers 22-11 in the final period, but Kitchener finished the game with a 41-37 overall advantage.
London takes a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Final, which shifts to the John Labatt Centre on Tuesday, April 24. Playoff scheduling and ticket information can be found here.
1. LDN O. Maatta, (2) (M. Rupert), 4:16
1. KIT R. Murphy, (2) (Z. Lorentz, T. Randell), 19:59
2. LDN A. Watson, (7) (T. Hughes, A. Athanasiou), 5:22
2. KIT T. Rieder, (12) (R. Murphy), 8:47 (SH)
2. KIT T. Rieder, (13) (M. Catenacci), 9:26 (SH)
2. KIT M. Catenacci, (7) (A. Crescenzi, R. Murphy), 14:37 (PP)
3. LDN J. Anderson, (2) (O. Maatta, M. Domi), 7:03
3. LDN S. Griffith, (6) (V. Namestnikov), 15:55 (SH)
3. LDN S. Harrington, (1) (J. Tinordi, S. Griffith), 19:10
3. LDN A. Watson, (8) (unassisted), 19:47 (EN)
1. LDN – 17 Seth Griffith
2. KIT – 24 Ryan Murphy
3. LDN – Michael Houser
Game 3 of the Western Conference Final will be held Tuesday, April 24 at 7pm at the John Labatt Centre in London. The Rangers return to home ice for Game 4 (Home Game J) on Wednesday, April 24 at 7pm.
Tickets for home game J (Round 3, Home Game 2) are on sale now.
Season ticket holders who have not pre-purchased their playoff tickets will have their tickets held until 48 hours before the start of Game J (Round 3, Home Game 2).
Season Ticket holders who have not pre-purchased must buy Game J (Home Game 2) tickets by end of box office day Monday, April 23. All unclaimed season ticket holder seats for Game J will be released for public sale on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:00am.
Please do not respond to this email with ticket requests. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 519-578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, via the internet or in person at The Aud Box Office or Centre in the Square Box Office.
The Aud Box Office Hours
Monday, April 23: 10:00am – 4:00pm
The Centre in the Square Box Office Hours
Monday, April 23: 10:00am – 8:00pm
Adults (ages 13 and up) $ 25.25
Children (ages 3 -12) $ 21.50
Please note that there are no refunds or exchanges on playoff ticket purchases