Jeremy Bracco tallied a three-point night and was named the game’s First Star as the Kitchener Rangers defeated the Owen Sound Attack 4-3 in front of 7,191 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Friday night.
His two goals and an assist were the sixth time Bracco has potted three or more points in a game this season. He now sees his season long point streak extend to 15 games and 30 points (11G, 20A).
It was a much needed win for the Rangers (11-6-0-1), who gladly snapped a three-game skid with the win over their divisional opponent. The Attack (10-10-0-1) lose two in a row for just the second time this season, while falling to 4-8-0-0 on the road.
Emanuel Vella (3-2-0-1), acquired by the Attack in a trade with the London Knights on Thursday, made his debut in goal for the visitors but was saddled with the loss, allowing four goals on 22 Rangers’ shots.
Luke Opilka (1-1-0-0) earned the win in goal for Kitchener, coming up big for the Blueshirts with 35 saves including all 14 he faced in the third period to preserve the Rangers’ one-goal lead.
Joseph Garreffa was also a key contributor for Kitchener, tallying a pair of assists including the primary helper on Bracco’s third period game winner on the power play. The effort earned the forward – yes, the return of some Rangers teammates to the lineup allowed him to revert back to his drafted position – one of the game’s Three Stars. The Second Star nod was the first time in his career he’d been named as a post-game, peak performer.
Connor Bunnaman (PPG) and Giovanni Vallati were the other Kitchener goal scorers, while Greg Meireles also earned an assist on the game winner to add to his league-leading rookie point totals.
The Rangers wasted little time getting on the board, scoring on the first shift of the game. Bracco extended his season-long point streak with his 10th goal, from Frank Hora and Connor Hall, at 0:37 of the first period to put the Rangers up 1-0.
The Attack would square things up at 1-1 before the period was out, as Jonah Gadjovich took advantage of an Owen Sound man advantage with just 2:38 to play in the opening frame, from Matthew Struthers and Markus Phillips, at 17:22. Shots were tied 7-7 through 20 minutes of play.
The Rangers would regain their one goal lead as Vallati registered his second goal of the season with a cannon from the top of the right point, from Dylan Seitz and Adam Mascherin, to make it 2-1 at 6:20.
Bunnaman’s eighth goal of the season gave Kitchener a 3-1 lead at the midway point of the period, a power play goal from Bracco and Garreffa, at 9:59.
But again the Attack would battle back late in the frame, as Kevin Hancock cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 at 18:15, assisted by Trenton Bourque and Zachary Roberts. Maksim Sushko added another for the visitors just 47 seconds later, from Nick Suzuki, at 19:02 to send the game to the second intermission tied 3-3.
Second period shots on goal were 17-8 in favour of the Attack, for a two-period total of 24-15.
The game winner came at 7:44 of the third period, as Bracco registered his second goal of the game and third point of the night, assisted by Garreffa and Meireles on the power play to make it 4-3 Kitchener.
Solid stops from Opilka came in handy right up to and including the final minute of play, as the netminder celebrated his first win since March 12, 2016.
Final shots on goal were 38-22 Owen Sound, including 14-7 Attack in the final period of play.
Kitchener was 2-for-4 on the power play, while Owen Sound was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
With three successful penalty kills, Heffner Lexus Toyota graciously donates another $30 to the Heffner Lexus Toyota PK Tally for a running total this season of $630 in support of Sun Life Financial Kids In Gear.
Sushko (OS) (3), Garreffa (KIT) (2), and Bracco (KIT) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
The Rangers are back in action on Tuesday when they take on the London Knights at the Aud at 7pm. They travel to Peterborough to take on the Petes on Thursday, November 17 for a 7:05pm start before they return home to host the Oshawa Generals next Friday, November 18 at 7:30pm.
Regular season tickets to Kitchener Rangers home games are $22.50 each for adults, $18.50 for children 12 and under, including HST and are available in person or by calling the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Box Office or Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.
Prior to the game, the Rangers held a Remembrance Day tribute at ice level, and took to the ice wearing special commemorative jerseys.
This was the 12th year the Rangers donned a commemorative jersey for their Remembrance Day game. The front logo was inspired by the logo of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, while the jersey paid tribute to all of the service men and women who have been a part of the Canadian Forces.
During the pregame ceremony the team honoured the important role that women have played in the Canadian Forces since World War I when more than 2,800 Canadians served as what were then called “Nursing Sisters” with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. The Second World War saw 4,500 nurses attached to all three branches of Canada’s military, with more than two-thirds serving overseas. By War’s end, some 50,000 women were serving in these and other important support roles such as mechanics, ambulance drivers, radar operators and parachute riggers.
The Auditorium site was home to the Canadian Women’s Army Corp Number Three Basic Training Centre during World War II. Today, a memorial in front of the Kitchener Armoury honours the women who served in the CWAC, and the 25 women who died while on active duty in the War.
Today, there are 14,000 women in the Canadian Forces. They deploy on combat missions, captain vessels and command flying squadrons – their military career paths as open as those of men. With those evolving roles of course, come added dangers. Captain Nichola Goddard, a forward artillery observer, died in a firefight in Afghanistan in 2006. She was the first Canadian women to be killed while serving in a combat role.
The following members of the Forces were welcomed to the ice:
Sergeant Angela Pettit is a Regular Force member with over 26 years service. Her current posting is as the Chief Clerk for the Regional Cadet Support Unit in London, but she has held postings across Canada including CFBs Borden, Kingston, Cold Lake Alberta, and with 440 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Yellowknife.
Lieutenant Terri-Leigh Saunders has been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve for more than 17 years. Her current posting is with HMCS Ontario Cadet Nautical Site in Mississauga, with secondary duty as the Unit Public Affairs Representative for the Regional Cadet Support Unit.
Corporal Whitney Houng has been a reservist with the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada for more than two years. Qualified as an infantryman, she is currently the B company clerk. In civilian life, Corporal Houng is attending the Bachelor of Nursing program at Conestoga College.
Captain Marion White served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1956-1969, including postings on the northern early warning radar sites during the cold war, in France with NATO forces during the construction of the Berlin Wall, and as adjutant of 415 Maritime Patrol, submarine hunting squadron at Summerside, P.E.I.
The Rangers were also privileged to have a veteran of the United States Armed Forces join the pregame ceremony. Julie Reuthie was a Combat Medic who received serious injuries during deployment in Iraq, for which she received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Julie and her husband Russ travel from their home in Pennsylvania each year to commemorate Remembrance Day with our local veterans.
Our soldiers were accompanied by a colour guard made up of the future women of Canada’s military, cadets from 1596 RHFC Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.
Sgt. Darryl Casselman and pipers from the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada presented Amazing Grace, which was followed by the performance of O Canada, then puck drop.