Kitchener, ON: The defending OHL champs, the Hamilton Bulldogs (24-24-3-2) were in town to face the Rangers (24-24-3-0) on Friday night and despite coming back from a 4-1 deficit, the blueshirts gave up two late-period goals, including an empty-netter, to lose 6-4.
Greg Meireles scores two goals and earned one assist while Michael Vukojevic and Cole Cameron collected two assists each in the loss. Lucas Pfeil stopped 28 of 33.
FULL GAME REPORT
It took until 15:19 of the first period to have any action on the scoresheet when Hamilton’s Jake Gravelle took a holding penalty against Joseph Garreffa who came rocketing into the Rangers offensive zone.
On the powerplay, a pass from Garreffa to Greg Meireles led to a shot on net that was initially stopped by the Bulldogs netminder, Zachary Roy, ended up on the stick of Jonathan Yantsis who buried his 37th of the season to put the Rangers up 1-0 at 16:38.
At 17:12, Riley Damiani took a four-minute high sticking penalty and then 22 seconds later, Greg Meireles took an interference penalty that led to a full two-minute five-on-three powerplay for Hamilton.
The Bulldogs made good on the two-man advantage twice in the span of 25 seconds. The first goal came from Logan Morrison, his eighth, and the go-ahead goal came from Arthur Kaliyev, his 39th, to put the Bulldogs on top 2-1.
The period would end with Hamilton leading in shots, 11-5.
Hamilton began the second where they left off the first. Just 28 seconds in, still benefitting from the Damiani double-minor, Kaliyev scores his 40th of the season to give the Bulldogs the 3-1 lead.
At 6:02, after sustained pressure from Hamilton, Kaliyev deked around a couple of defenders and passed it cross-ice to Lucas Pfeil’s left-side where Matthew Strome was wide-open to score his 25th and it was 4-1.
The fourth goal brought both Kaliyev and Strome to four points on the night.
On just the eighth shot of the game for the Rangers, Greg Meireles was the benefactor of a shot by Michael Vukojevic from the blueline that deflected off of him to pull the Rangers within two, 4-2 at 14:31.
Kyle Gentles also earned an assist on Meireles’ 25th.
The second period ended with the Bulldogs leading in shots 30-13.
Just 13 seconds after a Damiani delay of game penalty, at 7:02, Meireles found himself on a breakaway and able to beat Roy for a shorthanded goal to make it 4-3.
Vukojevic and Cole Cameron earned assists on the Meireles’ second of the night.
At 8:20, on the same penalty kill, Rickard Hugg found himself on an odd-man rush going into the Bulldogs end and Rangers captain elected to keep the puck and fire it past Roy to tie the game on the Rangers second shorthanded goal. 4-4.
Cameron picked up his second assist of the game on Hugg’s 25th.
Despite continued pressure from the Rangers, Hamilton regained their lead at 14:27 when Jan Jenik beat two defenders to find himself on a breakaway where he deked around a sprawling Pfeil to give the Bulldogs their lead back, 5-4.
With just 2.8 seconds left in the game, Kaliyev scores an empty-netter to give the Bulldogs the win, 6-4.
The Rangers were edged out in shots 34-32.
The Rangers next home game is on Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 pm vs the Erie Otters. The next road game for Kitchener is on Sunday, February 10 at 2:05 pm vs the Sarnia Sting.
Tickets still available for all regular season home games. Purchase yours in person at the Activa Box Office at The Aud or Centre in the Square Box Office, by phone (519) 578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, or online.
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