Late third-period heroics were not enough for the Guelph Storm as they fall short, 4-3 to Highway Seven rivals, the Kitchener Rangers, in a tough battle.
Tuesday night’s goaltender matchup saw the battle of the youngsters, with Guelph calling on Anthony Popovich for his third straight start, while Luke Richardson got the call for the home team after a strong effort last Saturday.
It was a quiet start to the opening frame, but the rivals picked up the pace with each passing minute. By the halfway point of the first period, both teams were trading quality scoring chances but were met by terrific goaltending.
In the dying minutes of the period, the Storm would open the scoring, as Ryan Merkley made a slick no-look pass to Matt Hotchkiss who buried the one-timer. Cedric Ralph picked up the other assist.
However, the Rangers quickly countered on a long point shot from Rangers defenceman Frank Hora, with just two minutes left in the period.
After 20 minutes of play, the game was tied at one goal each, with the Rangers leading in shots 16-10.
The second period saw the Storm struggle out of the gate, finding themselves in penalty trouble. The Rangers would take the lead just over one minute into the period on a deflection by Connor Bunnaman.
Dylan Di Perna would add to the Rangers lead nine minutes later, on a hard shot from the point, making it 3-1 for the Rangers.
Guelph had plenty of chances of their own but was stopped by Richardson.
With two periods in the books, the Strom trailed 3-1, while being outshot 30-22.
The Rangers weren’t done just yet, as they added to their lead on a blast from the point by rookie defenceman Giovanni Vallati.
As the period went on, Guelph continued to battle showing signs of life in the Rangers zone. The pressure would pay dividends as the Storm cut the lead to two when Liam Stevens deflected a point shot from Quinn Hanna into the back of the net. Hotchkiss picked up the assist for his second point of the night.
Just two goals back, the Storm continued to press and would find the back of the net on a power play goal by Nate Schnarr. James McEwan and Merkley picked up the assists on the power play goal.
But that was as close as the comeback would get as the Rangers held on to close out a 4-3 victory.
Final shots were 39-37 in favour of the Storm.
With the loss, Guelph falls to 20-34-3-2, while the Rangers improve to 34-23-2-2, clinching a spot in the OHL playoffs.
The Storm return to action Friday night when they play host to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for a 7:00 pm puck drop. For tickets visit the Storm Box Office, call 519-837-9690 or purchase online here!
- This was the seventh of eight meetings between the Highway Seven rivals.
- Kitchener leads the season series 5-2.
- Ryan Merkley extended his point streak to three games.
- James McEwan extended his point streak to three games.
Guelph Storm 3 at Kitchener Rangers 4 – Status: Final
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
Guelph 1 0 2 – 3
Kitchener 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Guelph, Hotchkiss 12 (Merkley, Ralph), 17:32. 2, Kitchener, Hora 5 (Damiani, Mascherin), 18:00. Penalties-Hawel Gue (high sticking), 7:46; Smith Gue (holding), 14:48.
2nd Period-3, Kitchener, Bunnaman 30 (Hora, Henderson), 1:37. 4, Kitchener, Di Perna 8 (Mascherin, Garreffa), 10:44 (PP). Penalties-Merkley Gue (roughing), 3:50; Yantsis Kit (boarding), 3:50; Smith Gue (cross checking), 5:20; Ratcliffe Gue (high sticking), 6:43; Michnac Gue (tripping), 9:57; Roberts Kit (cross checking), 14:36.
3rd Period-5, Kitchener, Vallati 5 (Di Perna, Meireles), 4:36. 6, Guelph, Stevens 7 (Hanna, Hotchkiss), 8:43. 7, Guelph, Schnarr 15 (McEwan, Merkley), 16:37 (PP). Penalties-Burns Kit (holding), 3:02; Hawel Gue (high sticking, high sticking), 4:30; Di Perna Kit (tripping), 10:18; Roberts Kit (tripping), 16:28; Hawel Gue (slashing), 17:31.
Shots on Goal-Guelph 10-12-17-39. Kitchener 16-14-7-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Guelph 1 / 4; Kitchener 1 / 8.
Goalies-Guelph, Popovich 7-15-0-1 (37 shots-33 saves). Kitchener, Richardson 8-2-0-0 (39 shots-36 saves).
Referees-Seth Ferguson (39), Nick Gill (6).
Linesmen-Jean-Francois Menard (52), Fraser Williams (71).
- KIT Connor Bunnaman
- KIT Dylan Di Perna
- GUE Matt Hotchkiss