Dylan Strome had a four point night and Alex DeBrincat added to his league leading goal total as the Erie Otters defeated the Kitchener Rangers 5-2 in front of 7,054 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex on Sunday night.
Devin Williams earned the win in goal for the Otters (17-2-1-0), making 35 saves on 37 Rangers shots. Luke Opilka was dealt just his second regulation loss of the season (11-2-2-0) after allowing five goals on 23 Erie shots. The win maintains a perfect road record for the Otters (8-0-0-0), while the Rangers (16-2-3-0) lose their first of the season in regulation on home ice (8-1-2-0).
The Otters capitalized with two power play goals and a shorthanded marker to propel themselves to victory. While the tale of tonight’s game certainly revolved around special teams, it was a special night in a different way for Rangers rookie defenceman Elijah Roberts, as he scored his first career OHL goal.
“It’s a special feeling, I feel great,” said Roberts, who also claimed a gold medal at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge last week. “Scoring that first goal is a moment I’ll never forget and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get the win, but there were a lot of good things we can take away from tonight’s game. We played better tonight 5-on-5 and we’ll address the other issues we need to improve on before we play London next Friday.”
Rangers Brandon Robinson also echoed the comments of his defenceman, in that the Rangers effort on even strength is something the team is proud of.
“Even strength, we were right there with them tonight – if not better. That’s a positive we take out of the game, for sure,” Robinson said. “We just have to build off of that, and clean up other areas.
“Moving forward we need to stay out of the box and play more disciplined. Overall, we’ll learn a lot from the result here tonight and we’ll be better because of it.”
With the Rangers called for a delay of game penalty after clearing the puck over the boards in the defensive zone, Strome scored his first of the night to give the Otters a 1-0 lead on just their second shot of the game at 10:51 of the first period. Travis Dermott and Kyle Maksimovich picked up the assists.
The Rangers would respond just over a minute later, however, as Robinson registered his ninth goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 at 11:58 from Ryan MacInnis. Shots were 9-4 in favour of the Rangers after the opening period of play,
Just 42 seconds into the second period Rangers winger Jake Henderson was called for a check to the head and dealt a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct. On the ensuing Erie power play it was Patrick Fellows who scored to give the Otters a 2-1 lead, assisted by TJ Fergus and Vanya Lodnia at 2:54.
With 26 seconds remaining in the major penalty the Otters struck again, as DeBrincat added to his OHL goal total at 5:16 from Strome and Maksimovich to put the visitors up 3-1.
The first even strength goal of the night for the Otters came at 12:53 when Lodnia made it a 4-1 game, assisted by Strome and Nick Betz, but the Rangers would respond just seconds later, as Roberts drove to the net and beat Williams for his first career OHL goal at 13:20 from Joseph Garreffa to cut the Erie lead to 4-2. Shots were 14-13 Kitchener in the second period for a two period total of 23-17.
Strome picked up his second goal and fourth point of the night – this time shorthanded – at 14:27 of the third period with an assist to DeBrincat, giving the Otters a 5-2 lead and all the insurance they needed to solidify the win.
Final shots were 37-23 in favour of the Rangers.
The Otters were 3-for-3 with the man advantage and also added the shorthanded goal, while the Rangers were unsuccessful in three power play attempts.
MacInnis, Robinson and Frank Hora each wore ‘A’s and skated as assistant captains for the game.
Roberts (3), DeBrincat (2) and Strome (1) were chosen as the Three Stars of the game.
The Rangers take to the road for both their games next weekend, as they travel to London on Friday, November 20th to face the Knights for a 7:30pm matchup, then finish the weekend in Guelph when they take on the Storm on Saturday, November 21st at 4pm at the Sleeman Centre.
Tickets for the Rangers game are available online at kitchenerrangers.com, by calling Centre in the Square, or through The Aud Box Office.