Mason Kohn scored and added a pair of assists as the Kitchener Rangers outlasted the Saginaw Spirit 7-4 in front of 5,071 fans at the Dow Event Center on Saturday night.
It was a back-and-forth affair which saw the Rangers (30-6-4-0) take the lead four separate times on the night, en route to their 30th win of the season. The Spirit (17-21-2-2) suffered their fifth straight loss, despite climbing back to tie the game following 1-0, 3-2, and 4-3 defecits.
The high-scoring contest also saw the extension of point streaks for both Ryan MacInnis (10-17=27) and Adam Mascherin (12-15=27). Their streaks have now hit the 17 and 15-game marks, respectively.
Associate coach Jay McKee said post-game that it was obviously not your typical game on either side of the puck for the Rangers, but that they’ll regroup for what will be another test on Tuesday when they play host to the London Knights.
“It was an interesting game, that’s for sure,” McKee told 570 News. “Every team in the league has to do it so there’s no excuses, but when you mix in a four hour bus ride, guys aren’t in their usual game day routine. We were curious on how they would respond coming out of the gates here tonight.
“We do what we can to keep the guys loose, but we had a bit of a slow start. Ultimately we pulled together and got the two points, but we’ll want to have better starts on the road moving forward, and a good start on Tuesday.”
Luke Opilka earned his 20th win of the season, making 31 saves on 35 shots he faced. Brendan Bonello made just his second career OHL start but was pulled just over midway through the second period and replaced by Evan Cormier, who would take the loss. Cormier allowed three goals on 18 shots and saw his record dip to 15-15-2-2. Bonello was beaten four times on 18 shots.
Kohn opened the scoring at 4:03 of the first period on the Rangers first shot on goal of the game. It was the 12th goal of the season for Kohn, assisted by Dylan Di Perna and Connor Hall, who saw his first game action since November 21st following a near two-month absence due to injury. The Spirit would tie things up with a power play goal by Blake Clarke at the 9:25 mark of the period, assisted by former Rangers forward Mike Davies and Mitchell Stephens.
The Spirit took the lead when Kris Bennett made it 2-1 from Connor Brown and Clarke at 12:22, but before the period ended it was Nick Magyar who scored the second goal of the night for the Rangers – on just their fourth shot on goal – from Kohn and Di Perna at 17:34 to send the game into the first intermission.
The four-goal first period was a flurry of activity, but paled in comparison to the six-goal second period that would follow.
Mascherin gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead 6:14 into the middle frame, tallying his team leading 23rd goal of the season, assisted by Jeremy Bracco and MacInnis, extending the point streaks for Mascherin and MacInnis.
Matthew Kreis responded for the Spirit just 1:23 later and once again evening things up, this time 3-3, with Kirill Maksimov and Markus Niemelainen earning helpers on the goal at 7:37.
Miles Liberati’s 11th goal of the season would again give the Rangers back the lead at 10:43, from David Miller and Darby Llewellyn. The assist to Miller earned the winger his 100th regular season OHL point of his career. The Liberati goal would mark the end of the night for rookie Spirit goaltender Bonello, who was replaced by Cormier.
The change in goal may have inspired the hosts, as Stephens would beat Opilka to tie the game 4-4, unassisted, but the stalemate wouldn’t last.
Just 23 seconds following the Stephens goal it was Brandon Robinson with a nice redirect in the slot to restore the Rangers one goal lead, 5-4, at 11:25 from MacInnis and Miller. Jake Henderson put the Rangers up by a pair of goals at 15:01 from Kohn and Bunnaman as the visitors would take a 6-4 lead into the second intermission. Shots were 27-21 Kitchener through 40 minutes of play.
Bracco mustered the lone goal for either side in the third period as he picked up his second point of the night, beating Cormier at 5:41 from Mascherin to round out the 7-4 affair.
Just three penalties were called in the game, as the Spirit would finish 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Rangers were unsuccessful in their one chance on the man advantage.
Clarke (3), Stevens (2) and Kohn (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the Game.
Brian Brosnan, Frank Hora and Robinson each wore ‘A’s and skated as alternates to captain MacInnis.
The Rangers return to action on Tuesday when they host their Midwest division rivals, the London Knights, at 7pm.
Tickets for the Rangers next home game, or any other future Rangers home games are available online at kitchenerrangers.com, by calling Centre in the Square, or through The Aud Box Office.