It was a frustrating ending to the 2016 calendar year for the Kitchener Rangers on Friday night at the Aud.
The Rangers (20-12-1-1) found themselves shut out for the first time this season, falling to the visiting Owen Sound Attack (22-13-1-0), 3-0, in front of 7,184 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
The win sees the Attack win their sixth straight game, while goaltender Michael McNiven improved his record to 17-17-1-0.
Just like a night ago in Windsor, Luke Opilka (5-5-0-0) gave his team every chance to win. The backstop stopped a barrage of 41 of 43 shots he faced, giving a solid effort in goal as the Rangers found themselves shorthanded in six different situations on the night.
The game was scoreless until the third period when Owen Sound’s Kevin Hancock gave the Attack a 1-0 lead at 2:14. Chase Campbell picked up the lone assist.
With just under two minutes to play the Attack capitalized on their fifth opportunity with the man advantage, as Jonah Gadjovich scored his 17th of the season to give Owen Sound a 2-0 lead, from Hancock and Sean Durzi, at 18:18.
Exactly one minute later with Opilka on the Rangers bench in favour of an extra attacker, Matt Schmalz made it 3-0 with an empty net goal, capping off the game’s scoring at 19:19.
Shots on goal were 12-9 Owen Sound after one period of play, 26-16 Attack after two, and 44-28 for the visitors at the end of regulation.
The chippy affair finished with Kitchener going 0-for-1 on the power play, while Owen Sound scored once on six chances with the man advantage.
With five successful penalty kills, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $50 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $1,100 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids in Gear.
Luke Opilka (KIT) (3), Santino Centorame (OS) (2) and Kevin Hancock (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 off Saturday, then right back on home ice Sunday when they host another divisional rival, the Erie Otters, for a 2pm start on New Year’s Day, January 1st.
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.