Rangers Snap Five-Game Win Streak With 6-2 Loss To McMichael, London Knights

After beating the Owen Sound Attack by a 5-4 final on the road on Saturday, the Kitchener Rangers returned to action with a loss to London at The Aud on Tuesday.

Entering the mid-week matchup, the Kitchener Rangers named Jacob Ingham as starter while he went up against Brett Brochu following a 6-3 win on Sunday in Erie. As well, the Rangers announced that Reid Valade and Isaac Langdon would not be playing, both due to injury. As a result, the Rangers were forced to recall Matthew Sop on an emergency basis.

Of course, this is in addition to the five-game suspension of co-captain Greg Meireles and the two-game suspension of defensemen Arber Xhekaj. With that in mind, the Rangers entered Tuesday’s game on home ice while looking to extend their win streak to six. As for the London Knights, they arrived in Kitchener looking to bump theirs to four.

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The last time these two sides met, the London Knights beat the Rangers by a 6-3 final at Budweiser Gardens. Now in their last meeting of the season, the Kitchener Rangers were looking to even the score.

As the game got underway on a rather warm evening at The Aud in Kitchener, the Rangers would win on the opening face-off with Mike Petezian taking on Jason Wilms. Just seconds after dropping the puck, the Knights would quickly gain possession, this leading ton the game’s first whistle. Again from the centre ice dot, the London Knights would be quick to pounce on it as Matvey Guskov lost the puck to Bergkvist with back-and-forth action going on in the Knights zone. With the Knights’ first shot, Ingham would snag the puck with the first Rangers save of the night. Now from the right-side dot in the Rangers zone, it was Kitchener jumping with lots of aggression at the boards early on.

After converting on the ice in the neutral zone, Joseph Serpa would take a shot on Brochu, but going just wide of the net. That would see the Rangers convert, though the visiting Knights not letting up early on. That would be followed by a shot by Connor McMichael, but stopped again by Ingham.

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From behind the Rangers net, Jesse Fishman would quickly poke it out, this seeing the Rangers rush the puck up the ice where Donovan Sebrango would take a shot from the blue line. After missing just wide of Brochu, the knights would convert and send the puck down the ice. With Kitchener not in full fledged action, another Rangers shot would be sent up, but stopped by Brochu as a whistle would be called.

Back from the centre ice dot, Hunter Skinner would retrieve the puck before sending it down to the Rangers zone where it was quickly converted by the Rangers backstop. That then. saw London jump on it with Luke Evangelista taking a shot on Ingham, but again just wide.

Now up at the left-side dot in the London Knights zone, it was Jonathan Yantsis with the wrap-around attempt, but stopped by Brochu at the edge of the goalie crease. That would send the Rangers to the power play with Connor McMichael being called for hooking. Again from the left-side dot, that would see Liam Foudy quickly take the puck down before taking a shot of his own on Ingham, but high and into the netting.

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Right from the draw at the blue line, Markus Phillips would taker a shot from the blue line, but stopped once again by the L.A. Kings draft pick. As the play was sent back to the neutral zone, Riley Damiani would pass the puck to Hawel up at the boards, but losing the puck as the Knights, at the boards, quickly turned it around.

After a shot from Declan McDonell, backstop Brett Brochu would send it down the ice. That would find Serron Noel who would rush it back top before losing possession. en route to the net. From the London blue line, Francesco Pinelli would be found near the hashmarks, but unable to find a clear path to shoot from.

That would see the puck sent back down, through fought off by Ingham as the Rangers converted. After another shot taken on Brochu, a whistle would be called as the play was then stopped. That would see the Rangers take another power play early on as Jonathan Yantsis, out front of the net, would get the puck from Damiani positioned well behind Brochu. After failure to put the puck in the net, the Rangers would get the puck back at the centre ice dot.

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Mike Petezian, now from the blue line, would send the puck up to Liam Hawel who would take a close shot on Brochu, just stopped by the netminder before taking a second chance, once again blocked by London.

with the Rangers staying put in the offensive zone, Francesco Pinelli would work around the net, though stopped by the Knights would promptly gain possession. Sebrango would then pull it out from the left-side corner on the side of Ingham and sent the puck back out. While unable to find a teammate nearby, a whistle would be called, this stopping play at the 8:19 mark.

As the play resumed from the Knights’ left-side dot, the rangers would win the draw which would see Damiani slap it back to Justin MacPherson, but stopped by Brochu who would send it back out. That would lead to the Knights getting busy and comfortable in the Rangers zone where Connor McMichael sent the puck to Jonathan Gruden who would feed Matvey Guskov who made no mistake. The goal, scored at 7:44, would be his 14th of the regular season.

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As the play resumed at centre ice, it would be the Knights again back in the Rangers zone, However, Kitchener, keeping the puck away, would send it back yup with a pair of shots. While Brochu saved both attempts, the puck would be frozen, this seeing another whistle with 6:45 remaining.

With Gerard Keane sent off for high sticking, that would give the Kitchener Rangers their third power play of the game against London. That, once again, would see Yantsis stick near the net, though struggling to find a teammate across from him before another shot taken from the blue line, but wide and deflected back into play. The puck would then find the stick of Ryan Merkley skating up by the blue line who was quick to send it off to Luke Evangelista who would put it by Ingham for his 23rd of the season.

Now from the centre ice dot with the Kitchener Rangers now much in control, it would see a pair of quick Rangers shots fired before losing possession once again in the neutral zone.

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That would see a whistle get called with 4:18 left to play in the frame. Now from the Rangers left-side dot, the Knights would win the face-off near the net while Declan McDonell was sent off for slashing. With the Rangers looking for revenge while also trying to kill off the penalty, they would struggle with the London Knights dominating nearby the crease with a shot from McMichael.

After losing the puck at the blue line, McMichael would send it to Merkley near the right-side boards who would send it back to McMichael. Before even taking a shot, Liam Foudy would interfere with the play in attempt to triple the London lead early on.

From the centre ice dot, the London Knights would win the draw once more before sending the puck down the ice towards Ingham who would face a flurry of a shots, fighting them all off. That would see the hometown Rangers attempt to dump the puck out of their zone, but struggling to do so amidst a scuffle near the net before finally snagging it, poking the puck out into the neutral zone en route to Brett Brochu. Now in the game’s final minute, Jonathan Yantsis would be back in London’s zone, though not for the long as the Knights sent it down where Ryan Merkley promptly placed it right into the mesh. The goal, assisted by Billy Moskal, would give the London Knights a 3-0 lead.

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With just 12.1 on the clock, the Rangers would fire right back with a shot on Brochu, but stopped and saved. Once again, that would send them to the penalty kill, short a man to end the frame. With the Rangers heavy presence defending Ingham back in their own zone, that would see a fight for the puck as the clock died down and the game siren sounded.

As the second frame got underway, it was the Rangers winning the draw with McMichael slapping it back, though quickly losing it to Damiani in the neutral zone. That would allow Serron Noel to find Liam Hawel at the left-side dot in the Rangers zone. However, at the boards, he would lose it to the knights before Noel picked it up at the boards in the Knights zone.

On a shorthanded attempt the other way, Noel would send it back up, though interfered with by McMichael as he sent it back up. That would see Kirill Steklov send the puck across to Jonathan Gruden who slapped it into the pads of Jacob Ingham. After deflecting it out, Justin MacPherson would be quick to grab it as the puck crossed the blue line and back up towards the net.

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With the Rangers now back in control, the London Knights would have trouble finding it as the puck was sent down towards Brochu who would send it to the boards to be played up. After a bouncing puck up along the boards, Axel Bergkvist would drive it to the Rangers zone before a whistle was called, this stopping the play.

That would put Kitchener on the penalty kill for a two minute frame with Axel Bergkvist sent off to the box for hooking. Up from the London Knights net, Kirill Steklov would drive the pick up before finding Liam Foudy who would find Ryan Merkley. Despite an attempt on Ingahm, the puck would be saved and bounce back int play. This would allow Ryan Merkley to set himself up behind the Rangers net, though still being blocked by the Kitchener defence before going off for a London line change.

McMichael would then step in while looking to add to the London Knights route, though this would result in another face-off, this won by the Rangers, but a quick whistle resulting. Again from the left-side dot in the Rangers zone, the Knights would once again pounce on it as it made its way up towards Ingham, but deflected and sent back down.

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In a scuffle at the boards just seven minutes into the game’s second frame, Jesse Fishman would find room to poke it, this finding Ville Ottavainen who would drive it to Brochu. As the Knights gained possession again, Hunter Skinner would drive it to Ingham with help from Guskov, but interfered with by Kitchener. That would allow Sebrango to deke through London around the neutral zone, though stolen by left-winger Antonio Stranges who would take a shot on Ingham, but hitting his pad which would deflect it back in before a stoppage of play.

As the play resumed now at the right-side in the London Knights zone, Serron Noel would poke it out, though interfered with by winger Liam Foudy. That gave London the upper hand as they maintained possession in the Rangers zone near Ingham. As such, McMichael took a shot, but stopped on Ingham’s stick and sent back into play.

With ten minutes left min the period, the play would be stopped as a whistle was called. Now from the centre ice dot, Holden Wale would find the puck nearby the benches, before sending it down towards backstop Brett Brochu before the London Knights drove it up to the Kitchener zone. That would see a fight for the puck as Connor McMichael fought for possession along the boards. Once again, with 9:12 on the clock, the play would be stopped with the Knights still leading.

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From the Rangers right-side dot, Matthew Sop would win the draw for Kitchener as the puck very quickly made its way down the ice. However, as it made its back to the net, the Knights would give chase, fighting off Donovan Sebrango in behind the Rangers net. With London not backing down, Kirill Steklov would shoot on Ingham, but once again saved and deflected by the backstop.

That would see the Rangers pick up the play back in the often side zone as Serron Noel, up along the boards, would the puck on his way to the net. From there, Noel would find Liam Hawel who would slap it top shelf for his 22nd of the season and his sixth goal since Friday against the Sarnia Sting. That would give the London Knights a 3-1 lead on the hometown Rangers.

Now from the centre ice dot and the Kitchener Rangers only trailing by two, the Rangers would win the draw and send it back to Ingham at the net in their own zone. That would give the Knights a boost of energy to tripe their lead again, sending the puck up the ice to the boards where Kitchener fought it off, sending it down to the neutral zone.

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That would find Francesco Pinelli who would pass the puck down to Declan McDonell. Unfortunately for the Rangers right-winger, he would be fought off near the net where London converted back into the Rangers zone. That allowed Connor McMichael, nearby the net, to poke it in for his 43rd of the regular season. That would give the Knights a 4-1 lead on the Kitchener Rangers.

Moments later, London was back at it as Liam Foudy sent the puck across the ice to Jonathan Gruden who would poke it by Ingham. The goal, his 30t of the season,. would give the Knights a 5-1 lead on the Rangers.

Now with revenge on their finds, the Rangers would fight for possession with the visiting Knights playing hard near Ingham. This would see a pair of shots fired, but both blocker saved and deflected back out. thankfully for the Rangers, it was soon sent down to the neutral zone. While it lasted mere seconds, 76 sent the puck down to 72 who would fire on Ingham,, but high and wide.

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That would result in a whistle with just 3:26 left to play in the period. Once the puck dropped, Jacob Ingham would remain rather busy, facing a pair of shots quickly off the draw before Petezian found it and rushed it down to the net with a shot, but stopped with a blocker save. After the puck made its way back to Ingham, Petezian again sent it down before finding McDonell at the boards. however, he was interfered with by Nathan Dunkley who would rush it back up before shooting on Ingham.

With London still running with momentum, Regula would find Connor McMichael at the Rangers net who would fire, but stopped by Ingham, standing tall between the pipes. Now in the frame’s final minute, this would set up Liam Foudy while Alec Regula sought for a shot of his own. Despite being closer in, he would fail to poke it as the clock died down. Once again, the siren would sound with the Knights well ahead on the Rangers, 5-1. After forty minutes of play, the Knights would lead in shots, up 17-8 on the hometown Kitchener squad.

As the third period got underway, Lucas Pfeil would draw in the replace Ingham. With twenty minutes left on the clock, the London Knights would win the face-off, this seeing Ryan Merkley send it back towards Brochu. At the same time, Serron Noel was sent off for a two-minute penalty after being called for roughing at the end of the second. Despite the London power play, Simon Motew would rush up the ice, just hitting the post on an attempt of his own to bring the Rangers within one.

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The puck was then turned around with a five-on-one for Connor McMichael as he looked to add his second goal of the evening for a 6-1 lead. While hitting the crossbar above Ingham, Markus Philips would take it from behind him, but struggling to find a gap to put the puck in through. This would would see the Rangers win the draw at the right-side dot as they’d take it back up. However, with London keeping Kitchener limited, Pfeil would face yet another shot as it was then driven out by Noel and into the offensive zone.

Hunter Skinner, in at the boards, would then poke the puck out down the ice, but space being a factor for the London Knights to get around as Declan McDonnell drove it up towards Brochu. With the play now turned back to Lucas Pfeil in the Rangers net, he would send it up to Jesse Fishman who would convert on it, rushing it up and firing hard, but just missing and to the boards.

Now five minutes in and the Rangers exploring their chances, Graham Dickerson would send the puck across, but not finding a teammate in around the London net. With the draw taken from the right-side dot in the Knights zone, London would send it back down, but the hometown Rangers fighting it off and back up towards backstop Brett Brochu. That would allow Jonathan Yantsis to find Axel Bergkvist who would send it across the crease to Pinelli for a chance, but failing on the attempt to score.

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Hunter Skinner would then drive it down, but interfered with by Joseph Serpa who was looking to convert it and gain the Rangers possession. With the Knights now running the clock, the puck would find the stick of Ryan Merkley who send the puck down to the blue line. Unfortunately for London, that would be as close as they got with the Kitchener defence now coming out strong while working at the boards right behind Lucas Pfeil.

This would make room for Angelista who would find the puck, but quickly lose it as the Kitchener Rangers would work to drive it back up. With 10:37 remaining, the Rangers would once again go to the power play. After a first rush short lived, a whistle would be called just seven seconds later. At the same time, Alec Regula would be sent off while called for slashing.

Just seconds after with the Rangers invading, Axel Bergkvist would find Liam Hawel who would send the puck up to Petezian who would bank it for his 20th of the regular season. That would bring the Rangers within a goal of the London Knights, now down 5-2. London would the call for review where the goal was looked at and held with 10 minutes remaining.

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As the play resumed from centre ice, the Knights would pounce on the puck again with a shot on Pfeil, but stopped and saved. That would result in a whistle with left to play in the third. Now from the right-side dot in the Rangers zone, Kitchener would win the draw as Jonathan Yantsis found the puck while driving up the neutral zone towards Brett Brochu. After being stopped and save, the puck would be dropped from the Knights right-side dot. That would see Billy Moskal take control as he headed down the ice on the left-side near the boards.

However, Damiani was quick to convert as he sent it to Hawel who would take it back to Pfeil in the Rangers zone. Back up a moment later, Petezian would race up from the slot with a shot on Brochu, but stopped and deflected back into play. In now from the neutral zone, Jesse Fishman would fire one on Brochu, but stopped on his pad and once again deflected back into play.

That allowed Luke Evangelista to regain possession and take a shot of his own, but stopped at Pfeil’s pad. Now from the boards at centre ice, Pinelli would rush the puck up, though poorly set up at the Knights managed to turn it. As such, Connor McMichael would send the puck to Markus Philips. After struggling to find the net, the same play was executed and failed a second time.

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As Kitchener turned it around, Damiani controlled the puck in the London zone, but snagged off his stick by Markus Philips. With just under five minutes left, Donovan Sebrango would steal it at the Rangers net before Kitchener worked around the Knights to convert it. This would result in a whistle with just 4:33 left in the game’s third period.

Now from the Knights left-side dot, the Kitchener Rangers would be placed on the power play. As such, Jason Wilms was sent to the penalty box, being called for hooking. Rushing up fast from the London zone, Billy Moskal would look for some room, but not so fast as he sent it to Foudy closer in on the net. Kitchener was quick to turn it as Axel Bergkvist maintained possession just out of the slot at the London blue line.

With just under three remaining, Pinelli took a shot on Brett Brochu, but stopped at the crease off the pad of the goaltender. He did so thorough a traffic jam at the net where equipment was lost despite play still resuming. The Knights then quickly converted and made no mistake with 2:26 remaining. Wilms, back in from the penalty box, would drive right in with his 22nd of the regular season. Assists on the play would be rewarded to McMichael and Steklov.

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With just over a minute left to play at The Aud in Kitchener, both teams in the Rangers zone would put up a fight behind Pfeil and the net. This of course being the case with Kitchener trailing to the London Knights by four. The fighting wouldn’t stop there after a Rangers shot was fired up from the blue line.

With one minute left in the game, Kirill Steklov, close to the net, would fire a shot on the L.A. Kings prospect, but going just wide and high, hitting the glass. Kitchener would seek one last chance as Bergkvist sent the pick to Declan McDonell who would have nowhere to send it, but down to Pfeil where they Rangers would lose it to their dominant counterparts. As the clock died down at The Aud, Joseph Serpa took the game’s last shot, but just going wide to the boards behind Brochu, this calling it quits as the game siren sounded. This would snap the Rangers win streak with a 6-2 loss to the London Knights. Shots at the end of the game would be 41-21 in favour of London.

This would then be followed by the annual three stars of the game with Liam Hawel being named the game’s third after scoring a goal while also adding an assist. Named second star of the game was Ryan Merkley with a goal and an assist, meanwhile, Connor McMichael would be named No. 1 with a goal and two assists.

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After the game, The Puck Authority spoke with Kitchener Rangers head coach Mike McKenzie who said when asked if there was something specific that he was giving to the boys as a message of motivation, “No, we just try to play the same way every game. You know, we have a certain style we wanna play and certain way we wanna work and we do it, you know, most nights, we do that, tonight obviously wasn’t one of those nights, it was a bit of struggle, but I think nine out of ten nights, our guys come to work and play the right way, so we’ll have to just get back to work and be ready to go Friday.”

While Ingham was pulled after two, the 6-2 loss was not a personal reflection. With that being said, when speaking about the importance he presents to the Rangers, McKenzie said of his increasing value, a chunk of that being from the five-game win streak, “Yeah, he’s huge for us. He’s been unbelievable for us the whole year, a huge part of our team and you know, at nights when we’re not great, he’s there to bail us out. He’s just overall real consistent, he’s a great guy in the room, a guy that’s a leader, so we’re really lucky to have him.”

As the Rangers look to start a new win streak while hoping to claim the top spot in the west, McKenzie said when asked what the focus is, if anything specific, looking onward to Friday, “I think we just gotta get back to playing Ranger hockey and moving our feet, playing quicker, I thought we looked a little slow and sluggish tonight, you know, get back to that, moving the puck, moving our feet, playing fast and I think we’ll be successful Friday if we get back to doing those things.”

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Liam Hawel scored one of Kitchener’s two goals on Tuesday night against the London Knights and when asked what the message was, if anything, being relayed to the team by McKenzie, he said, “Yeah, I think obviously we’ve had a real good run kind of after we made some switches, but I think he just wants us to stick to our game plan and play hard and tonight wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but we just gotta regroup for him on Friday and get back to how we were playing.”

Lastly, when asked what he could credit to his outing on Tuesday despite the 6-2 loss, Liam Hawel would close in saying, “I think just a big game and I was excited to play the London Knights, but unfortunately couldn’t get the win, but I mean, we’ll have another shot at them hopefully in the playoffs, so we’ll be ready for that.”

Following their 6-2 loss on Tuesday, the Kitchener Rangers are back home on Friday as they play host to the Barrie Colts with puck drop scheduled for 7:30pmET. The game can be seen on Rogers TV and OHL Live, meanwhile, it can be heard on 570News AM.

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