The Kitchener Rangers took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission on Saturday night in Erie.
Then the third period happened.
The Otters scored five unanswered goals and outshot Kitchener 17-2 in the final 20 minutes of play to stun the Rangers 7-3 in front of 4,832 fans at the Erie Insurance Arena.
After leading 1-0 in the first period, the Rangers took a 2-1 lead in the second and exchanged goals with the Otters to maintain a one goal lead heading into the final frame.
That was where things fell apart, as the Ontario Hockey League’s leading scorer Alex DeBrincat emerged with two goals and two assists in the third to help keep the Otters (13-3-0-1) undefeated on home ice (10-0-1-0) this season.
DeBrincat would finish with a five point night (2G, 3A), and got help from Taylor Raddysh (2G, 2A) and Kyle Maksimovich (1G, 3A), to hand the Rangers (10-6-0-1) their third straight loss in regulation.
Troy Timpano kept his record in goal unblemished as he improved to 11-0-0-0 on the season making 19 saves in goal for the win.
The shot clock heavily favoured the Otters – especially in the third period – as Rangers starter Dawson Carty (9-3-0-1) was strewn the loss despite coming up with 35 saves on 42 shots, including many key stops when the game was still within reach.
Elijah Roberts scored twice for the Rangers – the first two-goal performance of his OHL career – while Darby Llewellyn registered the other Kitchener goal. Jeremy Bracco earned an assist on Roberts’ second of the night to extend his season-long point streak to 27 points in 14 games.
In the early minutes of the first period the physical play was apparent, as Dylan Seitz and Taylor Raddysh each went off for fighting with Raddysh picking up an additional ten-minute misconduct. Moments later, Jacob Cascagnette took a high stick but play continued, and the Otters took a 1-0 lead by way of Mitchell Byrne, his first of the season from Cade Robinson and Erik Cernak at 4:31.
The Rangers would get on the board just after their first power play opportunity of the night expired, as Llewellyn tallied his sixth of the season after capitalizing on an Erie turnover which squirted out from behind the goal line. The goal was unassisted at 12:38.
The first period would come to a close with the score tied 1-1, with shots 14-10 in favour of the Otters.
The Rangers would take the lead in the early-going of the second period, as Roberts collected his second of the season with a shot from the top of the left circle that tricked Timpano, assisted by Connor Bunnaman, at 2:05 of the second.
At the midway point of the frame the Otters would even things up yet again, as Taylor Raddysh’s 14th goal of the campaign made it 3-3, from DeBrincat and Maksimovich, at 10:25.
Roberts would regain the Rangers lead, this time from the doorstep as he made a goal-mouth scramble count for the Blueshirts after burying a rebound to put Kitchener up 3-2 at the 15:37 mark and close out second period scoring. Bracco and Adam Mascherin picked up the assists.
Shots were 12-10 Erie in the middle frame for a two-period total of 26-20 in favour of the Otters.
DeBrincat cashed in on the power play just over five minutes into the third period, tying the game 3-3 from Kyle Pettit and Taylor Raddysh at 5:10.
Moments later in the Erie zone, Seitz was dumped in the far corner on a hit that appeared to be from behind but no call was made, and as play went the other way it was DeBrincat who added to his league lead in goals for his 17th of the season to give the Otters a 4-3 lead at 7:28.
With the Otters on the power play Maksimovich would strike again, giving the Otters their first two-goal lead of the night, 5-3, at 13:12.
Darren Raddysh added another just 1:10 later, from Brett Neumann and Patrick Fellows, to make it 6-3 before Taylor Raddysh scored his second of the night 26 seconds later to make it 7-3, from DeBrincat and Maksimovich, at 14:48. Final shots on goal were 42-22 Erie.
Kitchener was 0-for-3 on the power play, while Erie was 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
With two successful penalty kills, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $20 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $600 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids In Gear.
Maksimovich (ER) (3), Taylor Raddysh (ER) (2), and DeBrincat (ER) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
The Rangers return to action at the Aud on Friday, November 11 when they host the Owen Sound Attack for their annual Remembrance Day Game at 7:30pm. Following the game, the commemorative jerseys worn that night by the Rangers will be live auctioned in the Subscribers Lounge of the Auditorium.
Regular season tickets to Kitchener Rangers home games are $22.50 each for adults, $18.50 for children 12 and under, including HST and are available in person or by calling the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Box Office or Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.