Justin Bailey recorded the game winner as the Kitchener Rangers defeated the Plymouth Whalers 2-1 on Sunday night. Matt Puempel scored his team-leading tenth of the season for the Rangers, while John Gibson made 31 saves in his fifth straight win.
Each team fired nine shots on goal in the opening period, but Rangers’ starter John Gibson and Plymouth’s Matt Mahalak both remained perfect after 20 minutes.
The Whalers jumped to a 1-0 lead just 30 seconds into the middle frame. Garrett Meurs collected the puck behind the Rangers’ net and moved it to Ryan Hartman in front. The freshman forward snapped a shot past Gibson to record his fourth of the season. Zach Bratina also assisted on the play.
The Rangers evened the score just past the halfway point, when Jared Gilbert’s long shot was tipped past Mahalak by Matt Puempel. The fourth-year winger leads Kitchener with 10 goals this season, including three in his last three outings. The second assist on the 4-on-4 marker was credited to defenceman Ben Fanelli.
The Rangers led shots on goal 15-11 in the second period.
Justin Bailey put the Rangers ahead 2-1 early in the third period, converting a pass from Ryan Murphy into his third goal of the year, and the first game winner of his OHL career. The rookie centre has recorded all three in front of the home crowd. Josh Sterk also picked up a helper on the play.
Kitchener out-shot the Whalers 13-12 in the final frame and finished the game with a 39-32 overall advantage. Gibson made 31 saves for Kitchener, picking up his fifth consecutive win.
With the victory, the Rangers extend their home winning streak to four games, and are 5-0-1 in their last six contests.
2. PLY R. Hartman, (4) (G. Meurs, Z. Bratina), 0:30
2. KIT M. Puempel, (10) (J. Gilbert, B. Fanelli), 10:36
3. KIT J. Bailey, (3) (R. Murphy, J. Sterk), 3:00
1. KIT – 35 John Gibson
2. KIT – 95 Justin Bailey
3. PLY – 37 Matt Mahalak
The Rangers hit the road Thursday, November 1 for a 7:00 game with the Niagara IceDogs. The team returns to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Friday, November 2 for a 7:30pm meeting with the Windsor Spitfires. Tickets are available by phone at 519-578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, via the internet at www.centre-square.com or in person at the Centre In the Square Box Office or the Kitchener Auditorium Box Office.