Austin McEneny potted his first career two-goal game and Mario Culina posted his second consecutive shutout as the Kitchener Rangers (29-14-2-0) blanked the visiting Erie Otters (13-22-6-3), 3-0, in front of 6,950 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Friday night.
Head coach Jay McKee elected to go back to Culina for tonight’s game, riding the hot hand of the netminder who posted his first career Ontario Hockey League shutout just two nights prior with a 34 save performance in St. Catharines against the Niagara IceDogs.
He responded tonight with 36 saves, becoming the first Rangers netminder to post back-to-back shutouts since John Murray did so in the 2006-07 season (Dec. 1, 2016 vs. SSM – 1-0 Kitchener win; Dec. 3, 2016 vs. SBY – 2-0 Kitchener win) just over 12 years ago.
Culina’s record improves to 6-5-2-0 on the season, while his counterpart, Daniel Murphy (2-6-0-1), surrendered three goals on 32 Rangers shots.
More than 17 minutes of play passed before the game’s first goal; the 17th of the season for Kole Sherwood, assisted by Adam Mascherin and Rickard Hugg, to put Kitchener up 1-0 at 17:03.
Just 53 seconds later it was McEneny with his first as a member of the Rangers, giving Kitchener a 2-0 lead at 17:56, from Joseph Garreffa and Connor Hall to round out first period scoring.
Shots on goal through the first 20 minutes favoured Erie, 12-9.
After a scoreless second period, McEneny tallied his second goal of the night to extend the Rangers lead to 3-0, from Hall and Adam Liška, and round out the game’s scoring.
The Otters led 28-20 in shots through 40 minutes, and 36-32 at the end of regulation.
Both teams were 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
Kole Sherwood (KIT) (3), Austin McEneny (KIT) (2), and Mario Culina (KIT) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Austin McEneny, Adam Mascherin, and Logan Stanley each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman.
The Rangers close out the weekend on Sunday when they host their Highway 7 rival, the Guelph Storm, at The Aud at 2pm.
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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