Jeremy Bracco and Adam Mascherin are proving to be quite the lethal combination for the Kitchener Rangers.
The linemates combined for nine total points – including a five-point effort from Bracco – as the Rangers (4-1-0-1) handily defeated the Guelph Storm (3-4-0-0) by a score of 8-4 in front of 6,742 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex on Thanksgiving Monday afternoon.
Bracco’s five point day was comprised of three goals and two assists – his first Ontario Hockey League hat trick. The number five was also advantageous to the Rangers on Monday as it signified the number of times they struck on the power play, going a healthy 5-for-9 with the extra attacker.
Mascherin’s effort of a goal and three assists now has him tied with forward Greg Meireles for the team lead in points with 10.
The offence also came from the back end on Monday, as overage defenceman Dylan Di Perna registered the first four-point game of his OHL career (4A).
Also solid for the home side against his hometown team was Connor Bunnaman, who chipped in with a pair of goals. Dylan Seitz made the day memorable by tallying his first career OHL goal.
Dawson Carty returned to the Rangers crease and earned the win, his fourth of the season, to improve to 4-0-0-1 while stopping 33 of 37 shots he faced.
Liam Herbst got the call to start in goal for Guelph, but was pulled before the start of the second in favour of backup Anthony Popovich after allowing four goals on 12 shots in the opening period. Popovich would take the loss, surrendering four goals of his own on 18 shots.
Through six games so far this season, when the Rangers allow the opening goal in a game, they win – as they did today. Oddly enough, in the two games they score first they’ve dropped both games.
The Storm opened the game’s scoring early, as Luke Burghardt tallied his third of the season, assisted by Liam Stevens, to give Guelph a 1-0 lead at 1:58 of the first period.
From that point on, however, the rest of the period was all Rangers. Mascherin buried a beautiful feed from Bracco on the power play to score his second of the season. Di Perna earned the second assist on the goal, which came at 3:37.
Just a few minutes later it appeared the Rangers had taken a two-goal lead on the stick of Elijah Roberts, but upon further review the goal was called off due to incidental interference with Guelph goaltender Herbst.
Kitchener would respond with one that counted just moments later, as Bunnaman scored his fourth of the season and first of the game, assisted by Meireles, at 8:42 to take a 2-1 lead.
Bracco’s third of the season gave the Rangers a 3-1 edge at 12:05, as Mascherin returned the favour from the nice feed given to him by Bracco earlier in the period. Mason Kohn picked up the second assist.
The Rangers would add another before the period was out, taking a 4-1 lead with just 54 seconds remaining in the frame as Darby Llewellyn tallied his third goal of the season – from Jacob Cascagnette and Joseph Garreffa – at 19:06. Shots were deadlocked 12-12 after 20 minutes of play.
Herbst would stay on the Guelph bench to start the second period, replaced by Popovich in the Storm crease. It took under a minute of game time for the Rangers to get him acclimated to his surroundings, as Bunnaman scored his second of the game, from Di Perna and Mascherin, to give Kitchener a 5-1 lead on the power play at the 0:47 mark.
Midway through the period the Storm would get one back, as first overall pick of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, Ryan Merkley, scored his first OHL goal, assisted by Matthew Hotchkiss, at 9:55 while on a 4-on-3 man advantage.
After 40 minutes the Rangers held a 5-2 lead, but were outshot 14-6 in the middle frame for a two period total of 26-18 in favour of Guelph.
With just under four minutes gone in the third, the Storm were saddled with a pair of minor penalties – one for slashing, one a bench minor – which would leave them short 5-on-3 for a full two minutes.
Just 16 seconds later the Rangers capitalized, as Bracco scored his third of the game and first career OHL hat trick, assisted by Meireles and Di Perna, at 15:42. They would add to their lead just under two minutes later when Seitz scored his first OHL goal, also on the power play, from Garreffa and Bracco at 17:31.
Kitchener was 5-for-9 on the power play, while Guelph was 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
With four successful penalty kills, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $40 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $250 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids In Gear.
Burghardt (GUE) (3), Mascherin (KIT) (2), and Bracco (KIT) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Llewellyn, Di Perna, and Doug Blaisdell each wore “A’s” and skated as alternate captains for the Rangers.
The Rangers are back in action this coming Friday, October 14, when they host former Rangers forward Mike Davies and the Saginaw Spirit for a 7:30pm start.
Regular season tickets are $22.50 each for adults, $18.50 for children 12 and under, including HST and are available now in person or by calling the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Box Office or Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.