The Kitchener Rangers came into Friday night’s game looking to prove they can compete with any team in the league. Despite not leaving with the win, they still managed to do just that.
Taylor Raddysh was one of three Erie Otters to score in a shootout, as the visitors claimed a 4-3 victory over the hosts in front of 7,355 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex on Friday night.
It was the second straight game in which the Rangers (40-13-5-2) and Otters (48-12-1-0) forced a shootout, and the second straight game in which the Otters came away victorious (6-5 in Erie on February 21st).
The Rangers were without key defencemen Brian Brosnan and Frank Hora (injuries), as well as forward Mason Kohn (suspension), but were also left without the services of their captain Ryan MacInnis, who was just the latest in a string of Rangers to be bit by the flu bug at some point this week. MacInnis led all Rangers heading into Friday night’s action in points vs. the Otters in the season series (3G+4A=7Pts in 5GP).
Even without four key members of their group, the Rangers exhibited a gritty and resilient effort against the CHL’s top ranked team. Despite the extra point surrendered to the Otters, head coach Mike Van Ryn sang his club’s praises post-game, happy with the effort that they put forth.
“They’re hanging their heads in the room right now, but they shouldn’t. They wanted to win badly, but either team could have won that game.
“Obviously it would have been nice to get the two points, but I’m happy with our game tonight. It’s tough to say you’re happy with a loss, but considering all we were battling tonight with four key guys out, I’m happy with our effort.”
The pair of points increases that of the Otters to 97, while the London Knights – who claimed a 6-4 win over the Soo Greyhounds – also earned two points and remained four back of Erie at 93. The single point for the Rangers bumps them up to 87, with a game in hand on both the Otters and Knights.
Adam Mascherin stormed out of the gate in the first period, scoring twice exactly one minute apart to register his 33rd and 34th goals of the season, while giving the Ranger a 2-0 lead. After the game he found positives in the way the team competed.
“I think it doesn’t help we’ve been fighting a flu bug,” noted Mascherin. “But I think it shows good perseverance for us to fight out there tonight the way we did.
“We may have given up a lead, but we also battled back and went the distance tonight. I’m proud of the boys and the effort, despite not getting the win.
“This is a big weekend for us with London coming up for the next two, so we’re just going to get right back on the horse here and refocus.”
Gustaf Franzen picked up two assists in regulation and was one two Rangers goal scorers in the shootout, and largely echoed the sentiments of one of his Friday night linemates, Mascherin.
“We probably should have won it in OT, but that’s hockey sometimes,” said Franzen. “You’re gonna win some, and you’re gonna lose some.
“I think everyone had a great effort tonight and we have a lot to be proud of in the way we played, and we should be happy about that.”
Mascherin opened the scoring at 10:07 of the first period, from Jeremy Bracco and Franzen, to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead. Mascherin would tally another – his 34th of the season – exactly one minute later, after a patient drop-pass play by Connor Bunnaman, to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead at 11:07.
The Rangers would outshoot the Otters 16-7 after one period of play.
Erie would cut the Rangers lead to 2-1 with just 4:43 remaining in the second period, as Patrick Fellows mustered his fourth goal of the season, from Alex DeBrincat and Erik Cernak, at 15:17.
With the Rangers called for tripping, the Otters capitalized on the man advantage as Taylor Raddysh made it a 2-2 game with just 1:04 to play in the period, from Dylan Strome and DeBrincat.
Shots were 19-5 Erie in the second period, for a two period total of 26-21 in favour of the Otters.
DeBrincat would give the Otters the lead midway through the third period with his third point of the night, from Cernak and Strome at 10:47, to make it a 3-2 game. Their lead was short lived, however, as Bracco responded just 39 seconds later with his 19th goal of the season, tying the game 3-3 from Mascherin and Franzen at 11:26.
Regulation would end in a 3-3 stalemate with shots also even at 33-33, as the Rangers outshot the Otters 12-7 in the third.
After a scoreless overtime period in which the Rangers outshot the Otters 4-2, the game went to the shootout.
Strome and Bracco were the lone scorers for their respective squads through the first three rounds of the shootout. Lodnia and Franzen each exchanged goals in the fourth round for either side, before Taylor Raddysh scored the game clinching goal in the fifth round which was unanswered by the Rangers.
Devin Williams earned the win in goal for the Otters, improving his record to 38-7-1-0 while making 34 saves on 37 shots through regulation and overtime. He allowed two goals on five attempts in the shootout.
Luke Opilka (26-7-3-2) took the loss for the Rangers, making 32 saves in regulation and overtime, and two in the shootout.
The Otters would finish the night going 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Rangers were held scoreless in two tries with the man advantage.
Darren Raddysh (3), Mascherin (2) and DeBrincat (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the Game.
Gustaf Franzen and Brandon Robinson each wore ‘A’s and skated as alternate captains.
The Rangers return to action against another Midwest Division opponent on Sunday, March 6th at 2pm when they travel to London to take on the Knights. They host the Knights on Tuesday, March 8th at 7pm at the Aud.
Tickets for the Rangers next home game, or any other future Rangers home games are available online at kitchenerrangers.com, by calling Centre in the Square, or through The Aud Box Office.
1st – KIT Adam Mascherin (33) (Jeremy Bracco, Gustaf Franzen), 10:07
1st – KIT Adam Mascherin (34) (Connor Bunnaman), 11:07
2nd – ER Patrick Fellows (4) (Alex DeBrincat, Erik Cernak), 15:17
2nd – ER Taylor Raddysh (21) (Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat), 18:56 (PP)
3rd – ER Alex DeBrincat (44) (Erik Cernak, Dylan Strome), 10:47
3rd – KIT Jeremy Bracco (19) (Adam Mascherin, Gustaf Franzen), 11:26
1) ER: Strome scores
1) KIT: Mascherin stopped
2) ER: DeBrincat stopped
2) KIT: Bracco scores
3) ER: Maksimovich stopped
3) KIT: Garreffa stopped
4) ER: Lodnia scores
4) KIT: Franzen scores
5) ER: T. Raddysh scores
5) KIT: Miller stopped