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Rangers grind out win for 2-0 lead in series

Tony Saxon/Guelph Today

By Josh Brown, Kitchener Record

Kitchener — Mario Culina was on alert.

The sound of a whistling puck soaring overhead and bouncing off the end glass behind the net has a certain way of making goalies perk up.

Sure enough, the blast, from Guelph Storm defenceman Mark Shoemaker, proved troublesome.

The puck ricocheted off the glass, hit Culina and landed in the net for a quick 1-0 Storm lead just 1:49 into Game 2 of the team’s Ontario Hockey League western conference quarter-final Sunday night at the Aud.

“As soon as he shot I knew it (the puck) was going to come out behind me,” said Culina. “That’s why I ducked down. Unfortunately it hit my skate and went in so it was a bad bounce.”

But the Rangers — and Culina — survived the own goal by grinding out a 2-1 victory over the Storm to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

It was a different foe on Sunday. After being blown out 7-2 in Game 1 this past Friday, the Storm came to play.

“For a lot of the game we may have out-chanced them a little bit but it felt like a pretty neutral hockey game that could have went either way,” said Rangers coach Jay McKee. “We have a lot of respect for them for that reason right there.”

The skipper’s comments may be a bit kind to the home side.

Guelph outworked and outhustled the Rangers for most of the game and, had the team club featured a few more elite snipers, might have just snuck out of town with the series tied up.

As it was, it’s Kitchener that owns the flashy forwards. And they did just enough to remain in control before the series shifts to the Sleeman Centre for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ex-Storm winger Givani Smith banged in the equalizer on the power play while hovering on the doorstep of the crease midway through the first period in Sunday’s win.

It remained knotted at one until Kole Sherwood potted his second of the post-season with about seven and a half minutes left to play.

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