Matt Puempel’s hat trick propelled the Kitchener Rangers to a 7-1 victory over the Saginaw Spirit on Friday night. Joshua Leivo recorded a pair of goals and an assist in the victory while Tobias Rieder contributed three assists for the Rangers.
The Rangers opened the scoring early in the first period, scoring 3:46 into the game. The puck bounced to an open Joshua Leivo in front of the Spirit net. He fired a shot past goaltender Nikita Serebryakov for his 27th of the season. The assist was credited to import forward Tobias Rieder.
Less than three minutes later, Kitchener extended its lead to two goals. Sophomore centre Curtis Meighan snapped a shot high over the blocker of Serebryakov for his fifth goal of the season, with assists from Evan McEneny and Eric Ming.
Derek Schoenmakers’s third goal in two games put the Rangers up 3-0 before the midway point of the period. The Kitchener-native stretched out and deflected Ryan Murphy’s shot into the net to pick up his 17th goal of the year. McEneny earned his second point of the night with an helper on the play.
Leivo potted his second of the night at 12:54, pushing Kitchener to a four-goal advantage. Ben Thomson found the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and he shovelled a backhand shot past Serebryakov to earn his team-leading 72nd point of the year. Murphy also earned an assist on the play, his second point of the contest.
Saginaw got on the board with five minutes remaining in the opening frame with a 4-on-4 goal by Jimmy Lodge. Rangers netminder John Gibson turned aside the initial shot by Nick Moutrey, but the second-year centre was there to bury the rebound. His 28th of the season was also assisted by Jacob Ringuette.
Matt Puempel’s 33rd goal of the season restored the Rangers four-goal lead. Radek Faksa initiated the play, controlling the puck off the draw and moving it behind the net to Rieder. His backhand pass found Puempel beside the net and he pitched it into the net for his second goal in as many games. The power play tally was the Ottawa Senators prospect’s sixth point in five contests.
Kitchener led shots on goal 20-12 after the first period.
The score remained 5-1 Rangers after a scoreless second period. The Spirit out-shot the Rangers 17-8 in the middle frame.
The Rangers added to their lead just 54 seconds into the third period, jumping ahead 6-1. Leivo picked up his third point of the night, connecting with Puempel who snapped a shot by Serebryakov for his second of the game. Rieder
Puempel completed the hat trick less than five minutes later, corralling a pass from Frank Corrado and firing it on net. The puck bounced over the shoulder of Serebryakov, propelling Kitchener to a 7-1 lead. The hat trick was the Essex, ON native’s second of the season.
The Spirit led shots on goal 9-8 in the final frame and finished with a 38-36 overall advantage, but Gibson made 37 saves to secure the victory.
With the win, Kitchener improves to 39-19-1-8 and clinches the fourth place spot in the Western Conference for the 2013 Playoffs.
1. KIT J. Leivo, (27) (T. Rieder), 3:46
1. KIT C. Meighan, (5) (E. McEneny, E. Ming), 6:13
1. KIT D. Schoenmakers, (17) (R. Murphy, E. McEneny), 8:26
1. KIT J. Leivo, (28) (B. Thomson, R. Murphy), 12:54
1. SAG J. Lodge, (28) (N. Moutrey, J. Ringuette), 14:59
1. KIT M. Puempel, (33) (T. Rieder, R. Faksa), 17:54 (PP)
3. KIT M. Puempel, (34) (J. Leivo, T. Rieder), 0:54
3. KIT M. Puempel, (35) (F. Corrado), 5:15
1. KIT – 73 Matt Puempel
2. KIT – 35 John Gibson
3. KIT – 17 Joshua Leivo
The Rangers conclude their regular season schedule on Saturday, March 16 in Sault Ste. Marie, when they take on the Greyhounds at 7:07pm.
Playoff tickets for Round One, games A and B (home games #1 and #2) are on sale now! Opponent, dates and times are to be determined and will be announced when confirmed.
Playoff tickets may be purchased by phone at 519-578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, via the internet or in person at The Aud Box Office or Centre in the Square.
Adult (13+): $22.00/Round 1
Child (3-12): $18.00/Round 1
Please note: No refunds or exchanges on playoff purchases.