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Wolves take bite out of Rangers before Christmas break

Kitchener has lost seven of their last eight games
Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images.

The Kitchener Rangers go into the break on a losing note, dropping a 5-2 decision on the road to the Sudbury Wolves Friday night.

This, after taking a 2-1 lead in the second period.

Rangers Head Coach Jay McKee was happy with the effort, but knows some late-game breakdowns need to be cleaned up.

“We put ourselves in a position to win a hockey game by being tied on the road going into the third period and then, you get a tough bounce off a body on their third goal and then we have one of our oldest players on the ice on a power play and decides to leave a guy alone in front of the net,” he said.

“It’s a mental mistake that just simply can’t happen.”

It was the Wolves’ Teddy Bear Toss Night, and the fur didn’t take long to fly.

With Ryan Stepien sitting for a double-minor for high sticking, Cole Candella got credit for a power play marker with just 3:58 gone.

Once the bears were cleaned up, we were back to hockey and with just over two minutes left in the first, Joe Garreffa tied it up on the doorstep and a wide open net to work with.

Jonathan Yantsis put the Blueshirts up on his team-leading 24th of the year, a power play goal --- and his fourth of the Northern road trip --- just over seven minutes into the second.

But Quinton Byfield tied it up before the period was up with a short side shot.

Fellow OHL first overall pick David Levin scored the eventual winner about five minutes into the third.

And for good measure, the home side would add a pair on a couple of great efforts.

Shane Bulitka used his speed to chase the puck down in the Kitchener zone shorthanded, protected the puck along the boards until his teammates came to help. Seconds later, Bulitka took a pass in front and he put it home.

“(Former Sudbury Wolf Alexey) Lipanov coming out of the corner, doesn’t notice the guy to his left in front of the net and that’s just something that can’t happen with your older, and what should be your top players,” McKee said, thinking back to that goal.

“That’s a break down that really hurt us and gave them an insurance goal.”

Then with 11 seconds left, Byfield danced into the slot to add his second of the night.

Lucas Pfeil made 23 saves in the loss. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stoped 27 of 29 for the win.

The Rangers go into the Christmas break losers of seven of eight, and return to action in two weeks on Friday, December 28 at home to the Barrie Colts.


Mark Pare

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