Ryan Murphy’s three point night led the Kitchener Rangers to a 5-1 home win over the Erie Otters on Friday night. Tobias Rieder extended his scoring streak to five games with a goal, while Justin Bailey, Matia Marcantuoni and Derek Schoenmakers also scored in the victory. The Rangers have now won six straight games at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
The Rangers and Otters skated through a scoreless 20 minutes to open the game. Kitchener goaltender Joel Vienneau stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first, while Devin Williams made 13 saves for Erie.
Justin Bailey ended the deadlock less than a minute into the middle frame, putting the Rangers ahead 1-0 with his 12th of the year. Captain Ryan Murphy carried the puck over the line and dropped a pass for the rookie centre in the slot. The draft-eligible forward hammered a heavy shot past Williams to collect his fifth goal this month. Brent Pedersen also earned an assist on the play.
The Rangers jumped to two-goal lead 65 seconds later when Murphy set up his second of the game, collecting the puck deep in Kitchener territory and carrying it down the length of the ice. The veteran defenceman found Tobias Rieder near the top of the crease and the import winger slipped a shot under Williams, tallying his fifth goal in as many games. Murphy’s assist was also the200th regular season point of his Ontario Hockey League career. Rearguard Frank Corrado also assisted on Rieder’s 15th of the year.
Murphy picked up his third point of the contest with a goal that put the Rangers up 3-0 midway through the period. Joshua Leivo’s pass found the captain in the faceoff circle and he wired a shot past the glove of Williams for his fifth of the season. The helper extended Leivo’s recent point streak: the recently-acquired forward has appeared on the score sheet in five consecutive games, with seven points over that span. Evan McEneny also recorded an assist on the play.
The Rangers out-shot the Otters 17-8 in the second period.
Veteran centre JP Labardo put Erie on the board three minutes into the third period, cutting the Rangers’ lead to 3-1. Luke Cairns forced a turnover at the blueline and moved the puck to the overage forward who lifted it over the pad of Vienneau for his 16th of the season.
Four minutes later, Matia Marcantuoni’s sixth of the year restored the Rangers’ three goal advantage. Ben Thomson took control of the puck along the boards just inside the Otters’ blueline and connected a quick pass to the third-year forward. Marcantuoni moved in and beat Williams five-hole to put Kitchener ahead 4-1. The Toronto, ON native has points in four consecutive meetings with Erie.
The Rangers pushed their lead to 5-1 late in the final frame when Thomson forced a turnover that ended up on the stick of Derek Schoenmakers. The Kitchener native carried it through the neutral zone and fired a long low shot that trickled through the legs of Williams. The overager’s fourth goal in five games was also his 13th goal of the season.
Kitchener led shots on goal 16-14 in the third period and finished with a 46-32 overall advantage. Vienneau made 31 saves to improve to 4-0-0-1 since joining the Rangers in a trade with the Sudbury Wolves.
The victory was the Rangers’ sixth straight at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium and improves the club’s overall record to 27-14-1-5.
2. KIT J. Bailey (12), (R. Murphy, B. Pedersen), 0:46
2. KIT T. Rieder, (15) (R. Murphy, F. Corrado), 1:51
2. KIT R. Murphy, (5) (J. Leivo, E. McEneny), 11:24
3. ER J. Labardo, (16) (L. Cairns), 3:02
3. KIT M. Marcantuoni, (6) (B. Thomson), 7:05
3. KIT D. Schoenmakers, (13) (B. Thomson), 17:31
1. KIT – 24 Ryan Murphy
2. KIT – 9 Tobias Rieder
3. KIT – 15 Ben Thomson
The Rangers hit the road on Saturday, January 26 for the second game of their home-and-home series with the Erie Otters. The team returns to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Friday, February 1 when they host the Owen Sound Attack at 7:30pm. Tickets to Rangers home games are available by phone at 519-578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, via the internet at www.centre-square.com or in person at the Centre In the Square Box Office or the Kitchener Auditorium Box Office.