The Kitchener Rangers (14-6-2-0) scored once even strength, once shorthanded, and once on the power play to rally to a 3-1 victory over the Barrie Colts (12-6-1-1) in front of 3,614 fans at the Barrie Molson Centre on Saturday.
The game was also seen by thousands of fans from coast-to-coast on Sportsnet as the debut game of the CHL Saturday Showcase, shining the national spotlight on a different Canadian Hockey League matchup each week. The next CHL Saturday Showcase on November 25 will feature the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen taking on the Red Deer Rebels.
The win today for the Rangers marks their eighth straight game with at least a point, and gives them 15 of a possible 16 points during those eight games.
Captain Connor Bunnaman led the Rangers offensively with a goal and an assist, which included a shorthanded, game-winner in the third period. The 19-year-old Philadelphia Flyers prospect now has seven goals over the course of his last seven games.
Adam Liška and Kole Sherwood were the other goal scorers for Kitchener, who found themselves down 1-0 after one period of play but battled back to tie the game in the second period and finally take the lead in the third.
In goal, Rangers’ Chris McGonigle (1-0-1-0) made his first start in over a year and earned the win, coming up with a number of impressive, quality stops for the Blueshirts – 30 in total – en route to being named the game’s First Star.
Leo Lazarev (10-5-1-0) was peppered with 38 Kitchener shots after the visitors got off to a bit of a slow start in the opening period. He allowed three, while turning aside 35.
It was Kitchener native Jason Willms who opened the games scoring, giving the host Colts a 1-0 lead on the power play, from TJ Fergus and Lucas Chiodo, at 11:12 of the first period.
It would stand as the only goal of the opening frame for either side, as the Colts also led on the shot clock, 15-9, through 20 minutes of play.
The equalizer came on the stick of Liška, as the Slovak scored his fourth goal of the season after Cole Carter, below the Barrie goal line, banked a pass to himself off the back of the net then found Liška. Rickard Hugg earned the secondary assist on the goal, which came at 4:05 of the second period.
The shot scales tilted in Kitchener’s favour in that second period, as the Rangers outshot the Colts, 17-7, for a 40-minute total of 26-22, Kitchener.
With Barrie poised to regain the lead after Kitchener was whistled for a checking from behind minor it was the Rangers who finally took the lead, as Bunnaman scored his 13th of the season on a shorthanded breakaway – the eventual game winner – to put the Rangers up 2-1 at 3:26 of the third period, unassisted.
With the Rangers on a lengthy two-man advantage they capitalized to round out the game’s scoring, as Sherwood notched his sixth goal in his last four games – and eighth overall on the season – at 14:35, from Logan Stanley and Bunnaman.
The Rangers were 1-for-5 on the power play while the Colts were 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
Leo Lazarev (BAR) (3), Connor Bunnaman (KIT) (2), and Chris McGonigle (KIT) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Logan Stanley, Adam Mascherin, and Jake Henderson each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman.
Kitchener closes out the busy weekend tomorrow when they host the Peterborough Petes for the lone time this season at 6pm.
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.
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