Make it back-to-back wins over division rivals, and three straight victories for the Kitchener Rangers.
Nick McHugh notched a pair of assists and Luke Richardson made 28 saves to help guide the Rangers (10-6-1-0) to a 4-1 win over the Guelph Storm (7-7-0-2) in front of 7,072 fans at The Aud on Friday night.
The Blueshirts have erased the sour taste of last week’s three-game mini skid with yet another solid effort, both offensively and defensively, in tonight’s contest to maintain their grasp on top spot in the Midwest Division.
McHugh was named the First Star Friday night and Richardson Second, as the team took a 3-0 first period lead then added another in the third period to extend a late-game, two-goal lead.
Richardson (4-5-1-0) has been nothing short of steady and reliable between the pipes for the Blueshirts as of late, earning his third consecutive victory which included – yet again – a number of impressive, timely saves; this time against the Storm.
Anthony Popovich (7-6-0-1) shouldered the loss in goal for Guelph, surrendering goals by Connor Bunnaman, Jack York, Logan Stanley and Eric Guest on 31 Rangers’ shots.
The Rangers got on the board under five minutes into the opening period, as Bunnaman tallied his ninth goal of the season, from Gentles and Jake Henderson, to put Kitchener up 1-0 at 3:09.
York’s second goal of the year made it 2-0 Rangers at 10:51, with McHugh and Giovanni Vallati picking up the helpers.
On their second power play opportunity of the night the Rangers made it count, as Stanley unleashed a booming shot from the point that made its way past Popovich to give the home side a 3-0 lead, from Vallati and Rickard Hugg, at 17:44; the second straight multi-point game for the rearguard Vallati.
But the Storm pressed on and ultimately responded, finding their way on the scoresheet before the period was out to cut the Rangers lead to 3-1. With just 28 seconds to play in the period Garrett McFadden gave Guelph life with a power play goal, assisted by Ryan Merkley and Alexey Toropchenko, to round out scoring in the opening frame.
Shots in the first period favoured Kitchener, 13-8.
Just over seven minutes into the second period and already a man down, the Rangers were whistled for cross checking, being left to kill off a 5-on-3 disadvantage for a lengthy 1:06.
They would in fact complete the kill, as the score remained 3-1 in favour of the home side until minutes into the third period.
Guest buried a pretty set-up by Jonathan Yantsis to extend the Rangers lead to 4-1 at 3:48, with McHugh earning the secondary assist to round out the game’s scoring.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes of play were 24-17, Rangers and 31-29, Kitchener at the final buzzer.
The Rangers would finish the game 1-for-4 on the power play while the Storm went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Kyle Gentles (KIT) (3), Luke Richardson (KIT) (2), and Nick McHugh (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.
The Rangers are now idle for a week, returning to action next Friday, November 10th when they host the Windsor Spitfires at 7:30pm. The Rangers will wear commemorative Remembrance Day jerseys which will be available for fans to bid on via silent auction throughout the game in the Subscribers Lounge. Winners of the auction will be announced following the game.
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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