(Photo Via: The Record/Mathew McCarthy)
KITCHENER – In a Family Day rematch, the Ottawa 67’s defeat the Kitchener Rangers 5-2 on the road and pick up an all-important two points in the OHL Eastern conference standings.
Just 4:30 into the opening frame, Merrick Rippon took a hooking penalty, sending the Rangers to their first power play of the game. Just 0:19 later, Givani Smith potted his 16th goal of the season. For Smith, originally from Toronto, Ont., it was his 8th goal since joining the Kitchener Rangers.
Ottawa, however, would not blink in the face of adversity. Mitchell Hoelscher scored his 9th goal of the season, just 2:50 after the opening goal by Smith. Hoelscher, from Elora, Ont., had been held pointless in 4 of the last five games he played, coming into the Sunday afternoon tilt. Before that, Hoelcher has a six-game point streak where he scored 4 goals and 5 assists.
Then, 3:14 after the Hoelscher goal, it was Tye Felhaber, who had assisted on the opening 67’s goal on the afternoon, who netted his 27th goal of the season. The Pembroke, Ont., native recorded his 40th goal as a member of the Ottawa 67’s with the tally. He was acquired in a deal last season from the Saginaw Spirit.
However, the 67’s would put themselves back on defence when Noel Hoefenmayer took an interference penalty, sending the Rangers back to the power play. Connor Bunnaman, a Guelph, Ont., native made no mistake as he netted his 23rd of the season to tie the game at 2-2. That was Bunnaman’s 6th goal in the last 14 games.
That would be the last time the Midwest division leading Rangers who find the back of the net. Kody Clark would score a power play goal, with Connor Hall sitting in the box, with less than 4 minutes to play in the middle frame. That goal marked the Toronto, Ont., natives 17th goal of the season. Clark hadn’t scored a goal since January 13th, which came in a 6-2 loss to the Petes. It had been 10 games played since Kody Clark had last scored.
Then, late in the third, with Kitchener trying to tie the game, Kody Clark fired the puck into the open net, recording his 2nd goal of the game. It was the first multi-goal game for Clark since October 15th when he scored two goals and notched an assist in a 5-4 OT win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Clark scored the OT winner, 3:08 into the extra frame that night.
Jacob Cascagnette, playing his former and hometown team, Kitchener, scored an empty net goal to ice things, and finalize the score at 5-2 in favour of the Ottawa 67’s. It was Cascagnette’s 14th goal of the season, and just his 4th since joining the 67’s, via the Mississauga Steelheads, in January. Cascagnette was traded from the Rangers, to the Mississauga Steelheads last season. He scored 5 goals and 5 assists last year in the playoffs in the Steelheads run to the OHL Championship, which they lost to the Erie Otters.
Mario Culina, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native recorded the loss for the Rangers this afternoon. He made 21 saves on 24 shots on goal. This was Culina’s 14th game for the Rangers since being dealt from the Sudbury Wolves at the January deadline. Culina has been lights out thus far for Kitchener, his record falls to 11-3, with a 2.32 GAA and 0.927 SV% since joining the Rangers. Culina started the season in the goaltending rotation at Ryerson University in the OUA.
Olivier Tremblay, of Canton Tremblay, Que., recorded the all-important win for his 67’s team. It was 28 saves on 30 shots toward the 67’s goal on the afternoon for Tremblay. He improves his record to 22-13-5 on the season. Tremblay had played the last four seasons in the QMJHL with Rimouski, Victoriaville, and Rouyn-Noranda. His best season in the QMJHL came in 2015-2016 when he had a 21-12-5 record and a 3.50 GAA with the Victoriaville Tigres.
Kitchener won’t have long to wait until their next game, the will host the Sarnia Sting on Tuesday night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. It is the makeup game for the cancelled game back on February 9th, it is a potential second round playoff matchup preview. Kitchener has now lost 3 of their last 5, allowing 17 goals in those 3 losses.
Ottawa will have the next three days off before they suit up in North Bay on Thursday night to take on the Battalion. The 67’s ended a 3 game losing streak with their win on Friday night, winning their second in a row this afternoon. Ottawa is in a battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern conference as they currently sit in 6th place with 62 points. They are 3 points back of 4th place Niagara, 1 point back of 5th place North Bay, 1 point up on 7th place Oshawa, and 3 points up on 8th place Mississauga.
First Star: #71 Kody Clark – 2 Goals, +1, 5 shots on goal
Second Star: #54 Givani Smith – 1 Goal, -2, 2 shots on goal, 33% Faceoffs (1/3)
Third Star: #26 Jocab Cascagnette – 1 Goal 1 Assist, +2, 2 shots on goal, 56% Faceoffs (5/9)