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Rangers clinch playoff spot

It was another intense battle between Kitchener and Erie, in what could be a first round match up in the playoffs
File photo of Kitchener Rangers forward Riley Damiani. Mark Pare/KitchenerToday

The Kitchener Rangers have punched their ticket to the dance.

It was another intense battle against the Erie Otters, but Riley Damiani scored his second straight game-winner to lead his Blueshirts to the 4-3 decision Friday night at The Aud.

Combine that with Ottawa's 5-4 overtime win in the Soo --- the winner scored by none other than former Ranger Joe Garreffa --- and Kitchener joins London, Ottawa, Peterborough and Oshawa with the magical letter 'x' next to their name in the standings.

Both teams came out flying, with the teams combining for three goals in around 90 seconds around the halfway point of the first.

But it was Erie leading 2-1 after 20 minutes, on goals from Austen Swankler and top prospect Jamie Drysdale.

Jonathan Yantsis potted his 35th goal of the season in between, and added an assist later on for the two point night.

From there, the star rookies Declan McDonnell and Francesco Pinelli scored back-to-back to put the Rangers up early in the second.

Pinelli also assisted on McDonnell's goal, as both jostle for position among the top five rookie scorers in the OHL.

Damiani's winner came about a minute after McDonnell's marker.

Chad Yetman scored on a shorthanded breakaway in the third, but Jacob Ingham shut the door the rest of the way.

Ingham made 30 saves for his career high 28th win of the year.

The Guelph Storm helped out the Rangers yet again with a 5-3 win over the Knights, meaning the Blueshirts are just a point behind the Western Conference leaders.

They also remain two points up on the fourth place Saginaw Spirit, who let a 5-0 lead essentially evaporate before taking a wild one 10-6 in Sudbury, who were wearing jerseys with NBL Canada's Sudbury Five logo.

Kitchener faces a big road test Saturday night in Flint, against a Firebirds team that's won 15 straight games and lead the West Division.

Pregame on 570 NEWS is 6:30 p.m.


Mark Pare

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