“I’ve spent a quarter of my life playing in this league. They were the quickest five years of my life, but they were also the best. I’ll have memories of these five years forever.”
Brandon Robinson and the Kitchener Rangers desperately wanted to become just the fourth team in OHL history to rally from an 0-3 deficit in the playoffs, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
The London Knights scored four third period goals to defeat the Kitchener Rangers 6-4 in front of 6,986 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex in Game 4 on Thursday night, ending the Rangers season. The Knights win the series 4-0 and await the winner of the Erie Otters and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds series to find their opponent for the Western Conference final.
The game appeared to be in the hands of the Rangers with a Game 5 tomorrow night in London inevitable, as the Blueshirts held leads of 3-0 and 4-1 – but saw each three-goal lead subsequently vanish.
Thursday night marked the final game for Rangers overagers Miles Liberati and Brandon Robinson. Brian Brosnan missed the chance to get into any postseason action with the team due to injury.
“It was a huge year for us,” reflected Robinson, postgame. “The majority of this team was here two years ago when we didn’t even make the playoffs, so the strides we’ve made since then are unbelievable.
“We were one of the top teams in Canada all year long. I’m very happy to have been a part of this team.”
Despite the disappointing result, Rangers head coach Mike Van Ryn said his players are proud of each other for the effort they gave all season long, and as coaches wish the team would have been dealt a better hand.
“I’m proud of my guys,” he said. “This is tough, but it’s an experience that you learn from.
“This is a group that came a long way. They worked extremely hard. There’s a lot of character in our room.
“We wish we could have pushed the series a little further than we were able to, but I’m extremely proud of this group.”
Dawson Carty had another mammoth effort in goal for the Rangers, despite suffering the loss. He made 24 saves on 29 shots during 58:28 of game action.
Tyler Parsons was credited with the win in goal for the Knights, allowing four goals on 24 shots.
Darby Llewellyn opened the game’s scoring, assisted by Dmitrii Sergeev, at 9:41 of the first period.
Before the period was out the Rangers would take a 2-0 lead on the stick of Jeremy Bracco, his third of the postseason, from Ryan MacInnis and Connor Hall with just 55 seconds to play in the opening frame.
The Rangers would take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, outshooting the Knights 11-9.
The home team would extend their lead to 3-0 just 5:11 into the second period on the power play, as Frank Hora made a nice deke before taking a shot at the hash marks which beat Parsons, assisted by Adam Mascherin and Bracco.
The Knights would get on the board nearly midway through the game, as Aaron Berisha made it 3-1 at 9:27, from Robert Thomas and Victor Mete.
With both the Rangers and the Knights serving coincidental minors, Kitchener would restore its three-goal lead when Llewellyn scored his second of the night and third of the playoffs 4-on-4, assisted by Sergeev and Dylan Di Perna at 15:02.
The Knights would answer back just 43 seconds later as Mitchell Marner made it 4-2, from Jacob Graves, at 15:45.
The Rangers led 4-2 through 40 minutes, while shots were 20-17 London in the second intermission.
Cliff Pu would cut the Rangers lead to 4-3 at the 4:31 mark of the third period, from Marner and Brandon Crawley.
The Rangers looked poised to hold on to that one-goal lead, which they did for the better part of the remainder of the third period, until Jacob Graves scored his first of the playoffs to tie the game 4-4, from Matthew Tkachuk and Christian Dvorak, at 16:36.
To add insult to injury, just ten seconds after tying the game the Knights would take the lead, as Marner scored his second of the night at 16:46, from Dvorak and Tkachuk, to make it 5-4 London.
Marner would complete the hat trick with an empty net goal, also assisted by Dvorak and Tkachuk, at 18:23 to seal the 6-3 win, and in turn the series, for the Knights.
Final shots were 30-24 in favour of the visitors.
The Rangers finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Knights were 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Darby Llewellyn (3), Robert Thomas (2) and Mitchell Marner (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the Game.
Frank Hora, Gustaf Franzen and Brandon Robinson each wore ‘A’s and skated as alternate captains to Rangers captain Ryan MacInnis.
The Rangers will be hosting this season’s annual Awards Ceremony in the Dom Cardillo Arena at The Aud on Saturday night. The event will be open to the public, free of charge.
Doors Open: 6:20pm (Please enter through the Ottawa Street or Stirling Avenue doors)
Autograph Session: 6:30pm to 7:00pm
Award Presentations: 7:00pm to 8:00pm
For more information, click here.
(3) London Knights vs. (4) Kitchener Rangers
Best-of-Seven Semi-Final Series
Knights win series 4-0
Game 1 – Friday, April 8th – London 6; Kitchener 3
Game 2 – Sunday, April 10th – London 5; Kitchener 3
Game 3 – Tuesday, April 12th – London 2; Kitchener 1 OT
Game 4 – Thursday, April 14th – London 6; Kitchener 4