Rangers blanked by Lafreniere, Attack on Sportsnet

Dan Hamilton


It’s been a frustrating couple of days for the Kitchener Rangers and their fans.

A day after being humbled, 6-2, on home ice by the Mississauga Steelheads, the Rangers (25-13-2-0) were stunned 7-0 by the Owen Sound Attack (15-16-1-5) in front of 3,156 fans at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, as well as a nationally televised audience on Sportsnet on Saturday afternoon.

The Rangers have now lost back-to-back games, the first time doing so since Nov. 23-26 when they dropped three in a row on their northern swing to North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.

It was also the first time the Rangers have been blanked this season, as well as the first shutout victory for the Attack, who, in turn, snapped a seven-game losing skid.

The shutout also doubled as Olivier Lafreniere’s first win as a member of the Attack, sporting a (5-11-0-2) line on the season, and (1-4-0-2) with Owen Sound. It was his first career Ontario Hockey League shutout, but didn’t come without some misfortune, as the netminder was forced to leave the game due to injury – needing assistance – with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third period and was unable to finish the game.

Lafreniere stymied the Rangers offence with a number of quality saves; 28 to be exact. Mack Guzda came in for the final 31 seconds and was nearly beaten by the Rangers, save a left goal post therefore wasn’t credited with a save.

Luke Richardson (18-9-1-0) returned to the Rangers’ crease after Chris McGonigle got the start on Friday night versus the Steelheads, but saw his personal streak of five straight wins come to an end. Richardson surrendered five goals on 15 shots through 25:17 minutes of play before being replaced by McGonigle who allowed a pair on eight shots over 34:43.

The Rangers once again surrendered an early goal in the first period, as Alan Lyszczarczyk gave the hosts a 1-0 lead, from Nick Suzuki and newly acquired Brett McKenzie, at 3:05 of the first period.

After registering his first point as a member of the Attack, McKenzie tallied his first goal. With Owen Sound on a lengthy 5-on-3 man advantage he made it a 2-0 game, from Suzuki and Sean Durzi, at 10:04.

Exactly three minutes later an innocent looking shot from the corner from Brady Lyle bounced off a skate and into the back of the net to put Owen Sound up 3-0, unassisted, at 13:04 to round out first period scoring.

Shots on goal in the opening frame favoured the Attack, 10-9.

Just over a minute into the second period Riley Damiani was blindsided with a hit to the head by Attack captain, Jacob Friend. Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman came to his defence and, when the dust settled, the teams played four-on-four for two minutes before the Rangers held a three-minute man advantage after a five-minute major to Friend.

During four-on-four play the Attack extended their lead, as Aidan Dudas put Owen Sound up 4-0 after collecting his 17th of the season, from Maksim Sushko and Durzi. at 3:21.

With Kitchener aiming to take advantage of the Friend major, it was the Attack who pounced for a shorthanded goal.

Sushko tallied his 17th of the season at 5:17, from Dudas, to put the home side up 5-0, which was how the score would remain heading into the second intermission.

Kitchener outshot Owen Sound in the middle frame, 10-6, for a two-period total of 19-16, Blueshirts.

With under five minutes to play in the game the Attack struck again, as Dudas tallied his second goal of the game, assisted by Ethan Szypula and Jackson Doherty, at 15:32.

The hosts would cap off the scoring with a highlight reel effort by Doherty, just his second of the season, at 17:14 from Russell and Cole Cameron.

The Rangers struggled on the power play, finishing 0-for-7. Owen Sound was 1-for-5 with the man advantage along with a shorthanded goal.

Aidan Dudas (OS) (3), Maksim Sushko (OS) (2), and Olivier Lafreniere (OS) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.

Jake Henderson, Adam Mascherin, and Logan Stanley each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman.

The Rangers are back in action on Thursday, January 11 when they travel to London to take on the Knights at 7pm. They face the Saginaw Spirit at the Dow Event Center on Saturday, January 13 at 7:05pm before returning home on Sunday, January 14 to once again take on the London Knights for a 6pm start.

Regular season tickets to all Kitchener Rangers home games are $23.00 each for adults, $19.00 for children 12 and under including HST, and are available in person or by calling the Activa Box Office at The Aud, from Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.

Join in the conversation on all things Rangers by using #RaiseTheShield. You can follow the Rangers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @OHLRangers.

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