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Rangers fall in OT in entertaining battle with Windsor

It was as wild a game as you would expect between two of the best in the West

Fans who packed The Aud Sunday afternoon were treated to a bit of everything.

A fight early on, goals back and forth, highlight reel plays and even some overtime between the Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires.

What more would you expect for two teams looking to finish the weekend in first place in the Western Conference?

“It was a really good game. It was fast, it was physical, it was heavy, it was playoff-like," said Rangers coach and GM Mike McKenzie, "It was great for our guys to be involved in a game like that."

"I thought we came out a little slow, but then found our footing in the second and the third a little bit, and I thought we hung in there nicely. There were a couple times where we bent, but we didn’t really break."

But despite not breaking, the Rangers came up short. A power play goal from Egor Afanasyev with 58.9 seconds left in OT gave the Spits a 5-4 win.

And while he seemed satisfied with the hockey game itself, McKenzie admits it stings not coming away with two points.

He is, however looking at the bigger picture, pointing out the collection of five of a possible six points on what was their second straight three-in-three weekend.

"We get to play a good, hard game like that on a three-in-three. That prepares our guys for playoff hockey and overall, not a bad weekend, not a bad game," McKenzie said.

The Rangers had a chance to finish it in the extra frame with a man up, but Kari Piiroinen made a larcenous save on Reid Valade in close.

Valade would take a penalty just moments later on the same shift, and when Windsor got the extra man on the ice, they finished the job to take first place in the conference.

Serron Noel and Will Cuylle fought just 18 seconds into the game, setting the tone for a wild game.

Cuylle, Wyatt Johnston and Tyler Angle scored for Windsor, while Mike Petizian and Arber Xhekaj replied for Kitchener to make it a 3-2 game after the first.

After a scoreless second, Riley Damiani tied it up 37 seconds into the third.  Jonathan Yantsis gave the Rangers the lead on his 30th goal of the season.

But Curtis Douglas forced overtime banging home a loose puck in the middle of a scrum.

That set up a crazy overtime period that had chances both ways.

“It would’ve been nice to get the two points (in regulation), and not have to go to overtime, and then in overtime, with the penalties and a couple big saves by their guy, could’ve gone either way," McKenzie said.

Jacob Ingham made 33 saves in the loss, while Piiroinen stopped 24 shots for the win.

Despite the loss, Kitchener has points in 19 of their last 20 games and remain on top of the Midwest Division.

They'll host the North Bay Battalion Friday night.


Mark Pare

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