Luke Richardson got the nod to man the crease on Friday night, and he didn’t disappoint.
The 17-year-old Barrie native stopped 38 of 39 shots as the Kitchener Rangers (30-21-2-2) started the weekend off with a 4-1 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (38-15-2-1) in front of 4,355 fans at the Essar Centre.
Richardson (5-1-0-0) was named the game’s First Star for his steady performance, leading the visiting Blueshirts to the all-important win over the second-place Greyhounds.
Joseph Raaymakers (21-13-2-1) took the loss in goal for the hosts, allowing four goals on 22 Rangers shots.
With the win, the sixth-place Rangers (64 points) gave themselves increased separation from the seventh-place Sarnia Sting (58), each with 13 games to play. The Greyhounds (79) maintain a three-point lead over the idle Windsor Spitfires (76) for a difference between second and fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
After a scoreless first period rookie Barrett Hayton opened the game’s scoring at 5:56 of the second period, his seventh of the season from Calvin Martin and former Blueshirt David Miller to give the Soo a 1-0 lead.
Riley Damiani responded with his seventh of the season just 1:10 later, from Dylan Di Perna and Adam Mascherin to tie the game, 1-1, at 7:06.
Greg Meireles gave the Rangers the lead, 2-1, with his 16th of the season, unassisted, as he capitalized on a wide-open cage at 12:24 to round out second period scoring.
Shots on goal were 10-8 Soo in the first period of play, and 13-7 in the second for a two-period total of 23-15 Greyhounds.
Connor Bunnaman expanded the Rangers lead to 3-1 just 52 seconds after the puck dropped on the third period, assisted by Cole Carter and Mascherin.
Joseph Garreffa made it 4-1 Kitchener when he beat Raaymakers top corner at 8:09, with the lone assist to Nick McHugh.
Kitchener was 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Soo was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Connor Bunnaman (KIT) (3), Joseph Garreffa (KIT) (2) and Luke Richardson (KIT) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Dylan Di Perna and Llewellyn each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to Rangers captain Frank Hora.
The Rangers are in Saginaw tomorrow, Saturday, February 18th to take on the Spirit at 7:05pm. They play their third straight on the road when they visit Dawson Carty and the Hamilton Bulldogs on Family Day Monday, February 20th, at 2pm.
The Blueshirts are back home on Thursday, February 23rd when they host division rival, the Owen Sound Attack, at 7pm.
Regular season tickets to Kitchener Rangers home games are $22.50 each for adults, $18.50 for children 12 and under, including HST and are available in person or by calling the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Box Office or Centre in the Square (519) 578-1570 -or- 1-800-265-8977, or by purchasing online.