The Kitchener Rangers may be down, but ask any one of them – they’re definitely not out.
The trek to the Western Conference Final will now take four straight wins for the Rangers, who were the hard-luck losers in a 2-1 overtime loss to the London Knights in Game 3 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series in front of 6,573 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex on Tuesday night.
The Knights now hold a 3-0 series lead with Game 4 going Thursday night, April 14th at 7pm at the Aud with tickets available online, in person at the Centre in the Square and the Aud Box Offices, or by phone by calling (519) 578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977.
Rangers head coach Mike Van Ryn said the effort by his team was good, but it was the execution that needed a boost.
“I guess you could say it was a wasted goaltending performance. I thought our team played pretty good tonight, we just have to bear down on our chances. Tonight I thought our PK was real good but our PP couldn’t execute. It would be nice to get them going on the same night, but Carty kept us in it. He made some unbelievable saves.”
Carty was stellar for the Blueshirts, making a number of breakaway stops and tough saves in tight on London’s high-powered offence. He would finish the night making 32 of 34 saves and earned the game’s second star.
Tyler Parsons made 30 saves in goal for the Knights.
“It’s a game of momentum,” added Van Ryn. “It changes and shifts all the time. We had them on the run in the first period.
“We let our emotions take over a bit later in the game, and we have to be in control of those a little more than we are. I can’t talk negative about my team. I thought the effort was there, we just didn’t have the execution.”
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead on a pretty 2-on-0 play, as Jeremy Bracco fed Ryan MacInnis who potted his fifth goal of the postseason at 8:25 of the first period. It would be the lone goal of the opening frame, which saw the Rangers outshoot the Knights 13-6.
The second period was scoreless, with the Rangers outshooting the Knights 8-5 for a two-period total of 21-11.
Near the two minute mark of the third period Christian Dvorak was sprung on a shorthanded breakaway, but Carty came up with one of his many impressive saves on the night.
The Knights would eventually tie the game just three minutes later, however, as Matthew Tkachuk scored his 10th postseason goal, from Mitchell Marner and Dvorak, at 5:09.
Facing yet another one-on-one situation, Carty stopped Piccinich point-blank on another breakaway opportunity near the seven minute mark of the second period.
The remainder of regulation stayed scoreless, as the game headed to the overtime tied 1-1 with shots in favour of Kitchener 28-26.
Yakimowicz’ game winner at 7:51 of the overtime period, from Owen MacDonald and Piccinich, came on the Knights 8th shot of the extra period. The Rangers registered three shots in overtime, as final shots were 34-31 London.
The Rangers finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Knights were 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Tyler Parsons (3), Dawson Carty (2) and Chandler Yakimowicz (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the Game.
Frank Hora, Gustaf Franzen and Brandon Robinson each wore ‘A’s and skated as alternate captains to Rangers captain Ryan MacInnis.
(3) London Knights vs. (4) Kitchener Rangers
Best-of-Seven Semi-Final Series
Knights lead series 3-0
Game 1 – Friday, April 8th – London 6; Kitchener 3
Game 2 – Sunday, April 10th – London 5; Kitchener 3
Game 3 – Tuesday, April 12th – London 2; Kitchener 1 OT
Game 4 – Thursday, April 14th – London at Kitchener – 7pm
*Game 5 – Friday, April 15th – Kitchener at London – 7:30pm
*Game 6 – Sunday, April 17 – London at Kitchener – 7pm
*Game 7 – Tuesday, April 19 – Kitchener at London – 7pm