The Kitchener Rangers (27-13-2-0) scored twice on the power play and added another special teams goal while shorthanded en route to a 5-3 road win over the Saginaw Spirit (21-16-3-0) in front of 3,021 fans at the Dow Event Center on Saturday night.
It was the second straight win for the Rangers, who trailed 2-1 after the first period of play but took command through the final 40 minutes, outshooting the Spirit 24-14 – and outscoring them 4-1 – over that span.
Logan Stanley’s hot hand carried through from Thursday night in London, as the defender registered a goal and an assist tonight for four points in his last two games.
Givani Smith continues to contribute, scoring in his second straight game since joining the Rangers while Adam Liška, Kole Sherwood and Nick McHugh were the other goal scorers against the Spirit.
Mario Culina (4-5-2-0) started his second straight game and earned his second win with the Blueshirts, turning aside 20 of 23 shots.
Evan Cormier (17-13-3-0) took the loss after being tagged for four goals on 28 shots.
Saturday night also saw the Ontario Hockey League debut of defenceman Michael Vukojevic, who partnered with Jack York and logged some effective minutes for the visitors.
Former Ranger Mason Kohn opened the game’s scoring just 29 seconds into the first period to give the Spirit a 1-0 lead, assisted by Jake Goldowski and Brady Gilmour.
The Rangers would make the most of their first power play opportunity of the night when Hayden Davis was whistled for interference at 12:08. With just eleven seconds remaining in the man advantage Stanley notched his third goal in the last two games, tying things up 1-1 at 13:57 from Giovanni Vallati and Rickard Hugg.
But the tie game was short lived, as Keaton Middleton restored the lead for the Spirit with a power play goal of their own, making it a 2-1 game at 16:35, from Davis and Nicholas Porco.
The Spirit would take the 2-1 lead into the first intermission, also leading the shot clock, 10-5.
It was all Rangers in the second period, however, as the Blueshirts once again squared things up, 2-2, with another power play goal. Stanley found Vallati with a pass at the line, and Vallati wired a shot on goal which was tipped past Cormier by a pouncing Smith. It was the second goal in as many games for the newly acquired Smith, just 2:48 into the middle frame.
Kitchener took its first lead of the night exactly ten minutes later, as Liška corralled a bounce in the attacking zone for his tenth goal of the season, assisted by Hugg, at 12:48.
The Rangers led 3-2 through 40 minutes of play, outshooting the Spirit 15-6 in the second period for a two-period total of 20-16, Kitchener.
With 5:05 to play Sherwood extended the Rangers lead to 4-2, as he and Adam Mascherin broke into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 which ended with Sherwood scoring on the backhand at 14:55.
With the Spirit on the power play with an opportunity to close the gap it was the Rangers who struck, as McHugh tallied shorthanded into an empty net to give Kitchener a three-goal lead, 5-2, unassisted at 16:32.
With 28.1 seconds left to play a swarm of players gathered in Culina’s goal. The puck squeezed free and Danny Katic got credit for his third goal of the season, from Aidan Prueter to round out the game’s scoring.
Final shots on goal favoured Kitchener, 31-23.
The Rangers were 2-for-3 on the power play with a shorthanded goal while the Spirit were 1-for-5 on the man advantage.
Keaton Middleton (SAG) (3), Givani Smith (KIT) (2), and Logan Stanley (KIT) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Connor Hall, Adam Mascherin, and Logan Stanley each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers’ captain Connor Bunnaman.
The Rangers return home in short order tomorrow, Sunday, January 14, to once again take on the London Knights for a 6pm start.
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.
Join in the conversation on all things Rangers by using #RaiseTheShield. You can follow the Rangers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @OHLRangers.