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Stepien, Rangers stump Spirit in wild OT affair

Liam Hawel had three assists in his Rangers debut, while Francesco Pinelli scored his first OHL goal

Ryan Stepien capped off what was a wild opening to the OHL regular season for the Kitchener Rangers.

They came back from a two-goal deficit, scoring three unanswered to beat the Saginaw Spirit 5-4 in overtime at The Aud Friday night.

Jonathan Yantsis scored the first two Ranger goals of the year, but were down 4-2 going into the third.

That was when Reid Valade brought the game within one, and Francesco Pinelli forced OT with his first career OHL goal with just over five minutes left in regulation.

Stepien scored with 50.6 seconds left in the extra frame, converting a cross-crease pass from Valade to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Newly acquired Liam Hawel registered three assists playing on a line with Pinelli and Yantsis, while Michael Vukojevic had a two assist night.

DJ King, Blade Jenkins, DJ Busdeker and Cole Coskey scored for Saginaw.

Cambridge native Tristan Lennox was solid for the Spirit, making some ten-bell saves, turning aside 34 shots in the loss.

Jacob Ingham made 39 saves in his Rangers debut.

The Rangers have about a week off, before starting a weekend swing through Northern Ontario, starting in North Bay Thursday night.


Mark Pare

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