It was nasty.
It was physical.
It had plenty of edge to it.
It had everything you would expect out of a divisional matchup. But Liam Hawel’s two-goal game was enough to give the Kitchener Rangers a 3-1 win over the Erie Otters Tuesday night.
Hawel launched a heavy wrister from the top of the left wing face off circle to open the scoring just over a minute in.
A good first minute or so, amid what was a sloppy first 40 minutes, according to Rangers coach and general manager Mike McKenzie.
"Credit (Erie)," said McKenzie, "They played hard, they worked hard and took it to us a little bit and Iggy came up big again and we found a way to keep that lead."
And when a lead was lost, a lead was restored in quick order.
Maxim Golod replied on a shorthanded breakaway at about the 11 minute mark of the opening frame.
But just 34 seconds after that, Donovan Sebrango scored the eventual game-winner.
The rest was a back-and-forth that saw plenty of scrums, penalties, a fight, a third period that it seemed like the officials were going to let the skaters play until they had to step in and make some calls.
In the end, Hawel’s second goal of the night came of the empty net variety with a minute to go.
If there was any positives to Erie’s game, it was their penalty kill.
The top rated PK coming into the game (at 83.4 per cent), they had several chances but just couldn’t beat goaltender Jacob Ingham, other than Golod’s shorty.
The Otters even had a two-on-nothing breakaway shorthanded at one point, but Ingham stopped them with the blocker.
"Any time you give up a shorthanded goal and a two-on-oh, it’s definitely a concern," McKenzie noted, "Power play’s been pretty good for us lately, the last little bit. We’ll have to go back and take a look at it and may make some tweaks."
"We’ve been kind of playing around with a couple different ideas, so guys are playing out-of-position a little bit than what they’re used to. That takes some adjustment (to get used to it), but we’ll have to figure something out.”
Kitchener went one-for-three on the man advantage.
Ingham held on for the 37 save performance to collect his fourth win in his last five starts.
And it’s not every day Rangers fans are celebrating a Guelph Storm win.
The Storm came from behind to score three third period goals (two from Kitchener native Eric Uba) to stun the London Knights 3-1 at Budweiser Gardens.
That means the Rangers now have a three point lead on top of the Western Conference and have won four straight.
Kitchener will head to London for a heavyweight tilt Friday night.
Pregame on 570 NEWS is 7:00 p.m.
And if that's not enough, the Rangers finish off the upcoming weekend in Saginaw Saturday.