Radek Faksa scored once and recorded the shootout winner as the Kitchener Rangers defeated the Plymouth Whalers 5-4 on Saturday night. Ben Thomson, Justin Bailey and Matia Marcantuoni all scored in regulation for the Rangers and goaltender Franky Palazzese stopped all three Whalers in the shootout to secure his sixth consecutive victory.
The Whalers opened the scoring at the 11:22 mark of the first period, sending the stuffed animals flying on Teddy Bear Toss night. Matt Mistele was parked at the top of the crease to redirect Tom Wilson’s shot past Franky Palazzese. His 11th of the season was also assisted by Ryan Hartman.
Veteran power forward Ben Thomson pulled the Rangers even 45 seconds later, stripping a Plymouth defenseman of the puck and streaking in alone through centre ice. The New Jersey Devils prospect shifted to his backhand and slid a shot through the five hole of Plymouth’s Alex Nedeljkovic to record his fourth of the year.
Each team fired 11 shots on goal through the opening 20 minutes.
Garrett Meurs put the Whalers up 2-1 early in the middle frame, firing a shot past Palazzese for his 12th of the year and third goal against the Rangers. The fourth-year Plymouth winger’s tally was assisted by Rickard Rakell and rearguard Mitch Jones.
Rookie Justin Bailey’s second goal in as many games evened the score at 2-2 in the latter half of the period. The draft-eligible centre battled for the puck at the net, eventually finding space to beat Nedeljkovic blocker side. His seventh of the season was unassisted at 13:44.
Kitchener took advantage of a power play late in the second to jump out to a 3-2 lead. Third-year forward Matia Marcantuoni found the back of the net just 13 seconds into the man advantage, his fourth of the year. Defenceman Evan McEneny picked up his second point in as many evenings with an assist on the play. Dallas Stars prospect Radek Faksa was also credited with a helper.
The Whalers leveled the score at three goals apiece with 1:10 remaining before the second intermission. Hartman collected his second point of the night, tapping the puck by Palazzese for his 10th goal of the season. Assists were credited to former Ranger Alex Aleardi and Rakell, his second helper of the game.
Plymouth out-shot the Rangers 15-8 in the second period.
Faksa pushed Kitchener ahead 4-3 six minutes into the final frame, chasing the puck at the net and batting it through traffic, past Nedeljkovic. The power play tally was his seventh of the year, assisted by Marcantuoni and captain Ryan Murphy.
Hartman’s second of the game tied the score at 4-4 with 51 seconds to play, forcing the contest into overtime. The Whalers generated pressure, pulling their goaltender in favour of the extra attacker and the first-year centre got a stick on the puck and pushed it past Palazzese. Rakell earned his third assist of the night on the play. Connor Carrick was credited with the second helper.
The Whalers led shots on goal 12-9 in the third period and finished regulation with a 38-28 overall advantage.
Neither team could secure a victory in the extra frame, sending the game into a shootout. Plymouth out-shot the Ranger 4-2 in the five-minute overtime.
Faksa was the lone scorer in the shootout and Palazzese stopped all three Whalers attempts, securing a 5-4 Rangers win, the club’s second straight victory. The netminder has won six consecutive starts.
With the win, the Rangers improve to 17-8-1-1.
A reminder that Tuesday, December 4 is the Kitchener Rangers 18th Annual Teddy Bear Toss Game. Fans attending the 7pm game against the Guelph Storm are invited to bring a new or gently used teddy bear, preferably wrapped in a clear, plastic bag to the game. Zellers will also be on hand to sell bears in the North Concourse.
1. PLY M. Mistele, (11) (T. Wilson, R. Hartman),11:22
1. KIT B. Thomson, (4) (unassisted), 12:07
2. PLY G. Meurs, (12) (R. Rakell, M. Jones), 4:50
2. KIT J. Bailey, (7) (unassisted),13:44
2. KIT M. Marcantuoni, (4) (E. McEneny, R. Faksa), 16:28 (PP)
2. PLY R. Hartman, (10) (A. Aleardi, R. Rakell), 18:50
3. KIT R. Faksa, (7) (M. Marcantuoni, R. Murphy), 6:03 (PP)
3. PLY R. Hartman, (11) (R. Rakell, C. Carrick), 19:09
1. KIT – 94 Radek Faksa
2. PLY – 24 Rickard Rakell
3. PLY – Ryan Hartman
11 Stefan Noesen No Goal
40 Alex Aleardi No Goal
28 Connor Carrick No Goal
94 Radek Faksa Goal
95 Justin Bailey No Goal
The Rangers return to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday, December 4 for the 18th Annual Teddy Bear Toss game against the Guelph Storm. Game time is 7pm. 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.