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Rangers sweep wild weekend over Guelph

Kitchener climbed out of a 3-0 hole after 20 minutes, to claim sole possession of first place in the Western Conference
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No matter how both teams have been playing lately, the Kitchener Rangers and Guelph Storm sure provide some entertainment value for the fans when they lock up.

But in the end of the weekend, the Blueshirts continue to climb the standings and the Storm keep on surging in the wrong direction.

Isaac Langdon had a three point afternoon, including two goals, leading the way in a 5-4 comeback win over Guelph Sunday at The Aud.

The strong finish in Saturday’s 6-3 victory in the Royal City didn’t translate to start the back half of the home-and-home, with the Storm dominating the opening 20 minutes.

They took a 3-0 lead on goals from Andrei Bakanov, Kitchener native Eric Uba, and Cam Hillis.

Not just that, the Rangers only mustered up three shots on Owen Bennett in the first.

“Very poor, no other way to slice it,” said Rangers interim coach and GM Mike McKenzie, “We weren’t ready to play, it showed on the ice.”

“They took it to us pretty good, we had no life, no energy. I’ll give full marks to them, they came out and played really well, and they jumped us off the start. We had no answer for it.”

“A few of us were getting a little selfish,” Langdon added, “So we just said (in the first intermission) to stick together, keep going and play it simple, go from there.”

The Rangers cracked Bennett just over halfway through the second, a shot from Holden Wale tipped by Mike Petizian bounced off the end boards, back into the crease, off Bennett’s back and into the net.

Petizian’s sixth goal in seven games gave his team some life.

And it led to some pressure late in the middle frame, capped by Langdon’s first of two with 10 seconds left on the clock.

Uba stripped Riley Damiani of the puck, and restored Guelph’s two-goal lead just a minute into the third.

“It could’ve been a backbreaker,” McKenzie said of the goal.

But the back merely bent, as Arber Xhekaj launched a clapper on net 41 seconds later, while Langdon found the net again just over a minute later to tie the game.

It would stay tied through the majority of the period, including the Rangers having to kill off a five-on-three for 41 seconds, before Damiani got the winner with 3:37 left in regulation.

“It’s positive in that sense that the group’s resilient enough, and we deal with adversity like that,” said McKenzie, “But we’d not like to be in that spot in the first place, if possible.”

Jacob Ingham helped keep his team in it, stopping 42 of Guelph’s 46 shots on net --- the largest shot count the Rangers have faced since giving up 53 shots in Owen Sound Dec. 7 --- to get the win.

Bennett made 30 saves in the loss.

Kitchener will finally get a bit of rest to look forward to, after finishing off their third straight three-in-three weekend.

They also finish the weekend alone atop the Western Conference with 60 points, with Windsor second with 59 and Saginaw in third at 58 points.

Overall in the OHL, the Rangers only trail Ottawa by six points, with Peterborough at 59 points. The other division leader, the Sudbury Wolves, sit at 45 points and wouldn’t even be in a playoff position if they played in the West.

But that’s the way the OHL’s been this year.

One day, you’re starting off a season 7-10-2-2 and in the conference basement, saddled with injuries and extended absences all throughout your lineup, and making a coaching change.

And the next, you’re icing a healthy lineup on a more consistent basis, and you're putting together a streak of 20-1-2, along with a stronger belief you can push for a championship.

“We’re for sure rolling right now, we still gotta work hard every day though, work hard all week in practice, and battle each other as hard as we can, so we can translate it over to the game,” says Langdon, “We know we’ve got to face some tough opponents down the road, so every two points is huge.”

The team in 10th nowadays, the Sarnia Sting, visit The Aud for the first time Friday night for Don Cameron Potato Night.

Pregame on 570 NEWS is 7:00 p.m.




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Mark Pare

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