For two teams in the upper echelon in terms of power play percentage, it was no surprise Friday night was a special teams battle.
Coming into the game, Hamilton’s Arthur Kaliyev and Kitchener’s Jonathan Yantsis were two of the four players deadlocked atop the OHL stat sheet for power play markers with 15. The other two being Niagara teammates Jason Robertson and Kirill Maksimov.
Kaliyev would score two on the man advantage --- and added another for a hat trick --- to complete a five-point night as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Kitchener Rangers 6-4 at The Aud.
The first four goals on the night were scored on the man advantage, with the opener coming from Yantsis himself.
He scored in tight space in front of the net with 3:22 left in the first period, improving Kitchener’s top ranked power play, but Hamilton --- ranked third on the PP --- would jump on a juicy opportunity.
With Riley Damiani serving a double-minor for high sticking and Greg Meireles serving an interference call, the Bulldogs would score three times to take a 3-1 lead.
First with 1:11 to go in the opening period, Guelph native Logan Morrison jumped on a rebound with two men up.
Twenty five seconds later and still on a five-on-three, Kaliyev answered Yantsis’ PPG with one of his own, snapping a shot home from the right face off circle.
And then just 28 seconds into the second, Kaliyev struck again, tapping home a loose puck that trickled between starter Lucas Pfeil’s legs and sat in the goal crease, joining the 40 goal club in the process.
Kaliyev continued his big night with a beautiful cross-zone pass to captain Matthew Strome, who had Pfeil dead to rights and he put home the 4-1 goal with 14 minutes left in the second.
Then the Rangers clawed back.
Meireles tipped home a Kyle Gentles wrist shot from the point with 5:29 on the clock to make it 4-2 going into the third.
In the final frame, special teams came back into the picture with the Rangers scoring twice on the same penalty kill.
Meireles scored his second of the night on a breakaway with 12:58 left in the second. And 1:18 later, Cole Cameron intercepted a puck and went in on a two-on-one with Rickard Hugg. Cameron shot, was stopped, but the captain hacked home the equalizer.
However, Jan Jenik scored the eventual game winner, sprung on a breakaway chance with 5:33 left.
The loss wasn’t for a lack of effort, as the Rangers put up relentless pressure in the late stages and Pfeil on the bench.
Kaliyev got his third of the night on an empty netter with 2.8 seconds left.
Hamilton starter Zachary Roy and Pfeil held their own, despite the high-scoring affair, both stopping 28 shots on the night.
Kitchener travels to Sarnia on Sunday afternoon to face the Sting.
Pregame on 570 NEWS starts at 1:30 p.m.