Heading into Friday’s game the Kitchener Rangers (27-19-2-2) knew they were about to face the Ontario Hockey League’s best penalty kill, but come game time, the Windsor Spitfires showed them just how potent it really is.
The Spitfires (32-11-5-2) stymied the Rangers on all six of their power play opportunities in the game – including four in the first period – and built off that momentum to cruise to a 6-2 win in front of 7,167 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. The Spitfires entered the game with a 91.2% efficiency on the penalty kill, and have allowed just 17 power play goals against in what is now 200 opportunities for the opposition.
The Spitfires themselves were only awarded one chance at the man advantage on the night but they made it count, as the visitors led 2-0 after one period of play, and added four goals in the second to lead 6-0 heading into the final frame.
Luke Richardson (4-1-0-0) suffered his first loss of the season, surrendering all six goal on 21 shots through the first 34:54 of play. Luke Opilka came on in relief of Richardson and stopped all 12 shots strewn his way.
Michael DiPietro (24-7-4-1) picked up his second straight win, turning aside 33 of 35 Rangers’ shots.
Jake Henderson and Riley Damiani were the goal scorers for the Blueshirts, who each potted their sixth goals of the season.
Cristiano DiGiacinto gave the Spitfires a 1-0 lead just 1:02 into the game, scoring his 11th of the season from Gabriel Vilardi.
Just past the midway point of the period Windsor struck again, this time on a wrister from the top of the circle by Adam Laishram to make it 2-0 Spitfires. Tyler Nother and Luke Boka picked up the assists on the goal at 12:51.
First period shots on goal favoured the Rangers 12-10.
At 9:09 of the second period Boka extended the Spitfires lead to 3-0, as he corralled a puck that bounced off the end boards and buried it into the Rangers goal. Mikhail Sergachev and Aaron Luchuk picked up the assists.
Jeremy Bracco picked up his first goal against his former team, tallying his 20th of the season from Graham Knott and Jalen Chatfield at 13:16 to put the Spitfires up 4-0.
Just 31 seconds later it was 5-0 Windsor, as Cole Purboo scored his 11th of the season from Connor Corcoran and Chatfield at 13:47.
Vilardi extended the Windsor lead to 6-0 to round out second period scoring, a power play marker from Bracco and Sergachev at 14:54. The sixth goal ended the night of Rangers’ starter Richardson.
Shots on goal in the second period of play were 14-10 Windsor for a two-period total of 24-22 Spitfires.
Henderson spoiled the shutout bid for the Spits just 2:24 into the third period, unassisted, to cut the Windsor lead to 6-1.
Damiani would also cash in, making it 6-2 Windsor at 13:10 with the lone assist to Dylan Seitz, who make his return to the Rangers lineup after missing six games.
Shots on goal were 13-9 Kitchener in the third period, and 35-33 Rangers at the final horn.
Kitchener was 0-for-6 on the power play, while the Spitfires were 1-for-1 with the man advantage.
The Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally is at a running total this season of $1,560 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids in Gear.
Jalen Chatfield (WSR) (3), Mikhail Sergachev (KIT) (2) and Gabriel Vilardi (WSR) (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 tomorrow night, Saturday, February 4th when they travel to Flint to face the Firebirds at 7pm. They host the Niagara IceDogs for the lone time this season on Tuesday, February 7th at 7pm at the Aud.
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.