Jeremy Bracco tallied a goal and an assist and Luke Opilka made 31 saves as the Kitchener Rangers staved off the Eastern Conference leading Barrie Colts 3-1 in front of 7,158 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex on Friday night.
After a scoreless 40 minutes between the two teams, the Rangers emerged with three goals in less than ten minutes in the third period en route to improving their overall record to 19-3-3-0, and a 9-1-2-0 record on home ice.
The Colts saw their record dip to 16-8-0-0 following the loss, and 9-4-0-0 on the road.
Opilka was just 2:37 away from collecting his second Ontario Hockey League shutout, but he and the Rangers will certainly settle for the two points following a 3-2 loss to the Erie Otters in Erie on Thursday night. Opilka (14-3-2-0) was once again impressive, as the lone goal he allowed was a power play marker by the visitors. He would be awarded the second star honours on the night.
Ruan Badenhorst (0-2-0-0) was the goaltender of record for Barrie, who took the loss while allowing three goals on 32 shots sent his way.
After a scoreless first period which saw shots square at 11-11, Rangers centre Ryan MacInnis was hauled down on a breakaway attempt at the 9:43 mark of the second period and awarded a penalty shot, but failed to beat Badenhorst.
With neither team able to register a goal through the first 40 minutes, the Colts and Rangers went to the third period tied 0-0 on the scoreboard with Barrie outshooting Kitchener by a slim 22-20 margin.
Dmitrii Sergeev finally broke the scoreless tie with his second goal of the season at the 5:50 mark of the third period, assisted by Bracco and MacInnis to put the Rangers up 1-0. They would find the back of the net once again exactly six minutes later, as Gustaf Franzen scored his sixth of the season on a breakaway attempt while being taken to the ice, to go up 2-0. Connor Bunnaman picked up the lone assist on the Franzen goal at 11:50.
Just 2:44 after taking a 2-0 lead the Rangers would add another, this time by Bracco, his fourth of the season assisted by Brandon Robinson and MacInnis at 14:34.
With just 2:37 to play the Colts would get on the board, however, as Brendan Lemieux made it 3-1 with a power play goal from Lulius Nattinen and Brandon Prophet, which would round out the game’s scoring.
Final shots on goal were 32-32. The Rangers were 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Colts were 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
MacInnis, Robinson and Frank Hora each wore ‘A’s and skated as alternate captains for the game.
Rasmus Andersson (3), Opilka (2) and Bracco (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the Game.
The Rangers close out the weekend at the Aud when they welcome the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, November 29th for a 2pm puck drop.
Tickets for the Rangers next home game are available online at kitchenerrangers.com, by calling Centre in the Square, or through The Aud Box Office.