Connor Bunnaman’s goal with 37 seconds left to play in regulation earned the Kitchener Rangers a berth in the shootout, but it was the North Bay Battalion who skated to their first exhibition win, 4-3, at the HarborCenter on Friday afternoon in Buffalo, N.Y.
The third period marker was the second goal of the game for Bunnaman, who also opened the game’s scoring with another late period goal at 19:41 of the first period, unassisted, to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Giovanni Vallati was the other multi-point performer for Kitchener, racking up a pair of assists.
Midway through the middle frame the Battalion responded as Andy Baker made it 1-1, assisted by Kyle Potts and Daniil Vertiy, at 12:04.
Just over two minutes later Greg Meireles utilized a burst of speed through the middle to break in on goaltender Mat Woroniuk and restore the Rangers’ one-goal lead, 2-1, with Vallati picking up the lone assist at 14:18.
Shots on goal in the first period of play were 9-5 Kitchener, and 24-21 North Bay after two.
With the Rangers shorthanded to start the third period the Battalion capitalized, as Luke Moncada evened things up, 2-2, on the power play from Adam McMaster and Cam Dineen at 0:26.
North Bay struck again to take their first lead just under two minutes later on an unassisted goal by Justin Brazeau at 2:15.
The Rangers were unable to generate many offensive attempts until the final minute of play with goaltender Luke Richardson off to the bench in favour of an extra attacker. It was then that Bunnaman would tally his second of the afternoon, from Adam Liška and Vallati, making it a 3-3 game with just 37 seconds left on the clock. As per OHL exhibition rules, the stalemate immediately went to a shootout.
North Bay shot first, with Brett McKenzie giving the Battalion a 1-0 edge. Baker and Dineen were the other Battalion shooters, but were stopped by Richardson.
Eric Guest, Meireles and Bunnaman were the Kitchener shooters, but were each denied by Woroniuk.
Woroniuk earned the win, surrendering three goals on 29 shots. Richardson suffered the loss, despite making 39 saves.
Greg Meireles, Doug Blaisdell and Logan Stanley each wore an “A” and skated as alternate captains.
The Rangers are back in action at the HarborCenter tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, September 2nd at 4pm when they take on the Peterborough Petes as OHL Preseason Showcase play continues.
The Rangers lone home exhibition game at The Aud takes place on Saturday, September 16th at 2pm. Prior to the game the team will host its annual Fan Fest and Barbecue supporting Children’s Wish at 11am. More details can be found here.
The Rangers open their 2017-18 regular season schedule with their home opener on Friday, September 22nd when they play host to the Flint Firebirds at 7:30pm.
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, or Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.