Sarnia, Ont. – Down 3-0 in the third period, the Rangers scored back-to-back shorthanded goals to bring the game within one but Sarnia added an empty net goal to complete the 4-2 victory in Sarnia Saturday night. Reid Valade scored for the Rangers, Francesco Pinelli recorded a goal for the third-straight contest and Marcus Vandenberg made 31 saves on 34 shots.
It was Sarnia getting out on the front foot early in the game, scoring 39 seconds into the period. Luca DelBelBelluz (Columbus Blue Jackets) stole the puck just inside the Rangers blueline and fed Sasha Pastujov (Anaheim Ducks) all alone in front of the net. Sasha was able to squeak a shot through the five-hole of Marcus Vandenberg scoring on their first shot of the game.
Then at 17:42, Sarnia doubled their lead. Marcus Limpar-Lantz made a nice cross-ice pass from the bottom of the right circle, putting it right on the stick of OHL points leader, Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) who re-directed the puck home.
Sarnia led 2-0 and led in shots 12-7 through the opening 20 minutes of play
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the middle frame and that was thanks to the penalty killing efforts of the Kitchener Rangers. Kitchener was shorthanded three times in the period and was able to kill of a 5-on-3 power-play for the Sting. Shots were 11-5 for Sarnia in the period and 23-13 for the Sting after the middle frame. The score remained 2-0.
The third period didn’t disappoint with lots of action from both teams. First, Sarnia extended their lead to 3-0 on their sixth power-play of the game. The Rangers fought hard but with three seconds left on the man-advantage, a slot-shot was stopped by Marcus Vandenberg before the rebound fell to Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators) to tap the puck across the line.
Then, midway through the period, Kitchener was assessed a double-minor penalty. On the Sarnia power-play, Kitchener scored two shorthanded goals to bring the game within a goal at 3-2. Reid Valade kept the puck on a 2-on-1 break and ripped a shot top shelf past the glove of Ben Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks). Then, Francesco Pinelli (Los Angeles Kings) was able to steal the puck for a breakaway and made no mistake with a deke move to his backhand, sliding the puck around the pad of the Sting netminder.
Kitchener pulled the goalie for the extra attacker with two minutes left in regulation, but unfortunately for the Rangers, Nolan Burke scored his second of the game with 10 seconds remaining to give Sarnia a 4-2 win.
Final shots favoured the Sting 35-17. Kitchener finished the game 0-for-2 on the power-play and 7-for-8 on the penalty kill. Marcus Vandenberg earned the game’s second star making 31 stops on the 34 shots he faced.
Next Up: Kitchener will travel to London Saturday night to wrap-up a three-in-three weekend. The Rangers face the Knights Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at The Budweiser Gardens.
Photo Credit: Darren Metcalfe / Sarnia Sting
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