Brandon Robinson is picking a pretty good time to be playing some of his best hockey of the season.
The 20-year-old left winger scored twice and added an assist to help guide the Kitchener Rangers to a 6-4 win over the Windsor Spitfires in Game 2 of their best-of-7 Western Conference quarterfinal series in front of 6,310 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex on Saturday night.
The Rangers now lead the series 2-0 with Game 3 scheduled go to Monday night at 7:05pm as the series shifts to the WFCU Centre in Windsor for the next two games.
Robinson’s two goal effort Saturday now gives him four goals and six points through the first two games of the playoffs.
For the second straight game in this series the Rangers showed resiliency in battling back when dealing with a deficit. Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Rangers fell behind 3-1 after giving up three straight markers to the Spitfires.
Like in Game 1, the Rangers showed pushback and would score four unanswered goals of their own to take a 5-3 lead in the third period, then solidify the eventual win.
Rangers head coach Mike Van Ryn was pleased with the degree to which his players were willing to sacrifice themselves in order to earn a playoff win, as the Rangers blocked numerous shots in various ways throughout the night, but especially during the third period.
“It was nice to see us bury down the stretch,” said Van Ryn. “[There were] a lot of blocks out there, especially in the final minutes, and that was huge for us. Guys were laying their bodies on the line, and that’s what makes the difference in the playoffs.
“I thought Dawson Carty was very good for us,” he added, “He made a couple enormous saves, and he was huge for us tonight.”
Carty was indeed a difference maker in goal for the Rangers, getting his first career OHL playoff start and earning the win, making 31 saves on 35 shots. There were many key stops made by the Mississauga native, including a point-blank left pad stop on Christian Fischer from just above the crease near the midway point of the third period, to keep his team in the game.
In the opposing goal it was again Mario Culina who played well between the pipes for the Spitfires, but who was again saddled with the loss. He would allow five goals on 25 shots for the visitors.
Nick Magyar opened the scoring for the Rangers with his first of the playoffs, from Elijah Roberts and Miles Liberati at 15:19.
The Spitfires would tie the game 1-1 with a power play goal with just 1:27 remaining in the period, as Mikhail Sergachev tallied his first of the postseason from Fischer at 18:33.
First period shots on goal were 16-11 Windsor.
Just 40 seconds into the second period the Spitfires struck again, taking a 2-1 lead on the stick of Jalen Chatfield, assisted by Logan Brown.
They would make it 3-1 at the 4:19 mark of the second period when Mads Eller scored his first of the playoffs, from Patrick Sanvido and Aaron Luchuk.
The Rangers made it a one-goal game again when Robinson scored his third of the postseason, unassisted, near the midway point of the period at 10:02.
The home side climbed all the way back to tie the game 3-3 with a power play goal, as David Miller cashed in backdoor after being left all alone in front. Robinson and Mason Kohn picked up the assists on the goal, which rounded out the second period scoring.
Shots were 7-7 in the middle frame, and 23-18 Windsor after 40 minutes.
Liberati would score his first of the playoffs with a blast from the point, giving the Rangers back the lead, 4-3, unassisted at 6:21.
Connor Bunnaman would also chime in on offence for the Rangers – the fourth unanswered goal for the Blueshirts – making it a 5-3 Rangers lead from Mascherin and Dylan Di Perna at 9:13.
The Spitfires would battle back though, making it a one-goal game with a power play marker that tipped its way past Carty. Sergachev would get credit for the goal, from Gabe Vilardi and Bradley Latour at 10:34.
Robinson would give the Rangers the security they needed with an empty net goal at 18:28, assisted by Darby Llewellyn, to put Kitchener up 6-4.
Final shots were 35-26 Windsor, including 12-8 Spitfires in the third period.
The Rangers finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Spitfires were 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
Gustaf Franzen (3), Mikhail Sergachev (2) and Brandon Robinson (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 series shifts to Windsor for Game 3 on Monday, March 28th f or a 7:05pm start, then continues with Game 4 on Wednesday, March 30th at 7:05pm.
For tickets to Rangers home games, call Centre in the Square at (519) 578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, visit the Aud Box Office, or buy online.
(4) Kitchener Rangers vs. (5) Windsor Spitfires
Best-of-7 Quarter-Final Series
Kitchener leads 2-0
Game 1 – Thursday, March 24th – Kitchener 6; Windsor 5 OT
Game 2 – Saturday, March 26th – Kitchener 6; Windsor 4
Game 3 – Monday, March 28th, 7:05pm at Windsor
Game 4 – Wednesday, March 30th, 7:05pm at Windsor
*Game 5 – Friday, April 1st, 7:30pm at Kitchener
*Game 6 – Sunday, April 3rd, 2pm at Windsor
*Game 7 – Tuesday, April 5th, 7pm at Kitchener