The Kitchener Rangers may not have earned a win on Saturday night, but the fact they managed to at least muster a point was a bit of a small victory in its own right.
Logan Brown tallied a hat trick and added an assist while Luke Boka scored the winner with 11 seconds to play in overtime to lead the Windsor Spitfires (12-7-1-0) to a 6-5 OT win over the Kitchener Rangers (11-7-1-0) in front of the largest crowd of the season at the WFCU Centre, 6,173, on Saturday night.
It was all Windsor early on, as the Spitfires jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Rangers crawled back to make it 3-2.
It seemed that just as the Rangers found themselves within reach of tying the game, the Spitfires would put their foot on the gas and coast further away. The Rangers’ one-goal, 3-2 deficit eventually turned into a 5-2, third-period hole.
Yet the game went to overtime.
Adam Mascherin registered three assists for the Blueshirts, while Riley Damiani chipped in with a goal and an assist in the win. Kole Sherwood, Connor Bunnaman, Jake Henderson (shorthanded) and Giovanni Vallati also scored for the Rangers, who tied the game on the Vallati goal with just 3:20 to play in regulation.
The loss snaps Kitchener’s four game win streak, but the team remains undefeated in regulation for its fifth straight game.
Luke Richardson (5-5-1-0) got the start in goal for the Rangers but after surrendering five goals on 22 shots in just over two periods of work, he was replaced in goal by Chris McGonigle.
It was the first game action of the season for McGonigle, and his first time back in the Rangers crease since his first career win – a shutout – over the Peterborough Petes back on October 28, 2016.
McGonigle (0-0-1-0) was the hard-luck loser on Saturday, surrendering just the one goal in overtime. He stopped a total 13-of-14 shots he faced in over 24-plus minutes of work.
Michael DiPietro (12-5-1-0) picked up the win, giving up five goals to Kitchener but making 32 saves.
“I think [Windsor] came out with a lot of energy,” said Rangers’ head coach Jay McKee. “We knew they would have a lot of energy early. I think Richardson has been real solid for us as of late, but I’m sure there were a few [goals] tonight he would like to have back.
“It was tough to battle back like we did tonight, but I’m proud of our guys. Coming back from 5-2 [in the third period] against a good club with a real solid goaltender, I’m glad they would squeeze out a point tonight, and take 3-of-4 [points] on the weekend.”
For the second straight night it was the Spitfires who opened the games scoring, as Tyler Angle gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 16:59 of the first period, from Connor Corcoran and Brown.
It was the lone goal of the opening frame, as the Spitfires led 1-0 but the Rangers led in shots, 11-10.
Brown picked up his second point and first goal of the night at the 4:25 mark, giving the Spitfires a 2-0 lead, unassisted, just six seconds into a Windsor man advantage.
Brown would notch his second goal of the game to extend the Spitfires lead to 3-0, also unassisted, at 13:21 but there was lots more offence yet to come in what turned out to be a wild end to the second period.
The teams would combine for three goals in 43 seconds; two of them belonging to the Blueshirts.
The barrage of goals began with Damiani who got the Rangers on the board with his sixth of the season, breaking in on a two-on-one with Bunnaman but electing to shoot, cutting the Windsor lead to 3-1 at 15:10.
Just 31 seconds after Damiani’s marker, Sherwood outlasted a down-and-out DiPietro to beat him high to make it a one-goal game, 3-2, from Mascherin and Greg Meireles at 15:41.
But Windsor was able to momentarily squash any Rangers momentum, as Aaron Luchuk notched his league-leading 20th goal of the season, from Sean Day, to make it 4-2 Spitfires just 12 seconds after the Sherwood goal.
Shots on goal in the six-goal second period were 10-10 aside for a two-period total of 21-20.
Brown solidified the hat trick just 39 seconds into the third period, from Jake Smith and Luchuk, giving Windsor back its three-goal lead, 5-2, and some breathing room – for the time being.
Brown’s third goal of the game signalled the end of the night for Rangers’ starter Richardson, and in came McGonigle.
Under three minutes later Bunnaman tallied his 11th of the season, from Damiani and Mascherin, to cut the Windsor lead to 5-3 at 3:08.
Just 1:06 later, with the Rangers killing a penalty, a solid effort on the PK paid off for Henderson who brought Kitchener, once again, to within one with a shorthanded marker at 4:14, unassisted.
The Rangers would climb all the way back in the final minutes of regulation as Vallati tied the game, 5-5, with Mascherin picking up the lone assist on the goal at 16:40.
The rest of regulation would solve nothing, as each team was guaranteed at least a single point with the game headed to 3-on-3 overtime.
Shots on goal in the third period were 10-10.
The game appeared it could be poised for a shootout but with 11 seconds to play Boka capitalized and salvaged the extra point for the Spitfires. Luchuk earned the lone assist. Each team had five shots on goal in the overtime.
The Rangers would finish the game 0-for-2 on the power play while the Spitfires went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Adam Mascherin (KIT) (3), Aaron Luchuk (WSR) (2), and Logan Brown (WSR) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Logan Stanley, Adam Mascherin, and Connor Hall each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman.
Kitchener returns home to host the London Knights on Tuesday, November 14th at 7pm.
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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