Before the evening began and looking back at Lucas Pfeil’s performance Sunday against the London Knights, some were left to wonder if the coaching staff would go with the backup for a second straight game.
Tuesday night in Peterborough, it was Luke Richardson who would get the nod.
And boy, did he ever return to the form that earned him CHL Goaltender of the Week honours earlier this season.
The Kitchener Rangers netminder made 40 saves --- including 21 in the second period alone --- to lead the Blueshirts to a 5-3 road win over the Petes.
Rangers head coach Jay McKee was pleased with his goaltender’s effort.
“I thought Richie was exceptional in net,” he said, “Definitely stood tall to give us a chance to win, a real good bounce back game for him after a couple previous ones.”
Richardson --- who will represent Team OHL in Sarnia Thursday night as part of the Canada/Russia Super Series --- felt good after the win.
“Obviously it’s a big confidence boost,” he said, “Last few games haven’t been my best, and I’m just trying to turn it around.”
On offense, the secondary scoring also played a factor for the visitors. Chase Campbell scored twice, his first in 14 games, and Justin MacPherson netted his first of the year.
“Their goaltender (Hunter Jones, also a former CHL Goalie of the Week winner this year) has been playing real well and to put up four against him, coming in here (into) this barn, where they only lost two games all year, that’s a good testament to how hard these guys have been working,” McKee says, noting the Petes’ 7-2 record at home going into the contest.
“And the secondary scoring is something we certainly need. Any team needs a few if you want to win consistently and it’s been lacking, it’s something we touched on and it’s good to see a couple guys chip in.”
“For me to put in two goals tonight, get the monkey off my back, it was a great feeling,” added Campbell, “I’ll just look to ride this wave here.”
Oh, and as you guessed already, the two-plus game stretch without a goal stopped early. It only took 5:35 for Jonathan Yantsis to put that in the rear view mirror with a power play marker to open the scoring.
(For those doing the math, the team’s goal less drought ended at 139:42.)
Yantsis tapped home a pass right in front of the goal for his 13th of the year, but Erik Cermak answered with 1:11 left in the opening frame to tie it heading into the second period.
It was there that Richardson made save after save --- a number of which should make any OHL highlight reel --- to keep his team in it.
Cermak would get the home side up early on but Campbell evened the contest again by the six minute mark of the period.
Out of the penalty box halfway through the second, it was MacPherson streaking down the left side on a breakaway. He put a shot top corner on Jones’ glove side to give the Rangers the lead.
“I don’t think (MacPherson) knows he had that (good of a shot) either,” McKee said smiling when asked about the goal, the defenseman’s first of the season.
Chris Paquette would make it a 3-3 game with the Petes’ second power play goal of the game at 16:20, but Campbell gave the Blueshirts a lead they would not relinquish before the period would end.
Greg Meireles snapped home an empty netter late in the third to round out the scoring.
“I think we’ve been generating the right chances offensively,” McKee said, “I think if we look at the game tape tonight, I can tell you before looking at it we need to clean up things defensively. It’s part of the learning process with the lineup we have right now, and some of the younger guys but we just got to keep battling through here and find ways to win.”
The Rangers are home to the Sarnia Sting this Friday night for the annual Remembrance Day game.