Kitchener, ON.: It was the Windsor Spitfires (20-22-2-0) visiting The Aud on Friday night to play the Rangers (19-21-3-0) in the final matchup of the season between these two clubs.
Riley Damiani led the way for the Rangers with five assists and Jonathan Yantsis scored two goals to bring his season total to 32. Rickard Hugg also had himself a game with a goal and three assists in a Rangers victory, 7-4.
FULL GAME REPORT
Going into the night just four points separated the two clubs in the Western Conference Standings. Windsor was 6th in the Conference with 43 points and the Rangers were holding onto the last playoff spot in eighth with 39 points and two games in-hand.
It was Kitchener that came out of the gate quickly on Friday night. Just 14 seconds into the first period, after a friendly Rangers bounce off the backboards, Justin MacPherson netted his second goal of the season on assists by Riley Damiani and Rickard Hugg to put the Rangers up 1-0.
The Spitfires evened it up at 11:06 when Cole Purboo beat Luke Richardson for his 22nd goal of the season to make it 1-1.
At 16:29 the Rangers restored their lead when Greg Meireles tapped in a puck that snuck underneath the pad of Kari Piiroinen to earn his 18th goal of the season and that made it 2-1. Reid Valade and Hugg assisted the go-ahead goal.
The period ended with Windsor up in shots 14-11.
Windsor evened it up for the second time at 3:21 of the second period on a shot from the Spitfires right side faceoff circle that beat Richardson top corner on his glove hand side. 2-2.
Kitchener restored their lead at 9:06 of the middle frame. Ryan Stepien came across the blueline and made a pass cross-ice to Damiani who then found Hugg in front. Hugg’s initial shot rebounded off Piiroinen’s pad but number 96 made good on the second chance and buried his 17th of the season to make it 3-2.
Purboo took a tripping penalty at 10:13 and on the ensuing powerplay, at 10:46, on assists from Hugg and Damiani, Jonathan Yantsis netted his 31st while in-close on Piiroinen to make the game 4-2 in favour of the blueshirts.
The period would end with the Spitfires still leading in shots 26-24.
Alexey Lipanov got in on the action at 6:53 of the 3rd on a shot from the hash marks that beat Piiroinen for his seventh of the season. Vukojevic and Michael Rupoli earned assists on the goal that made it 5-2.
At 10:24, and again on the powerplay, Yantsis scored his second of the night and 32nd of the year to give the Rangers a four-goal advantage, 6-2. Damiani and Meireles earned assists on the goal.
Ryan Stepien got in on the action at 12:51 with his fifth goal of the season. Damiani and Donovan Sebrango were helpers on the goal that made it 7-2. For Damiani, that was his fifth assist of the game.
The Spitfires would add two late-game goals by Luke Boka and former Ranger Chase Campbell but Kitchener would ultimately win the game by three, 7-4.
Final shots on goal were 38-35 for the Rangers.
The Rangers next home game is on Sunday, January 20 at 2:00 pm versus the Owen Sound Attack. The next road game for Kitchener is on Sunday, January 27 at 2:07 pm versus the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
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.
Join the conversation on all things Rangers by using #RTown. You can follow the Rangers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @OHLRangers.
Click here to view the complete game summary.