That’s not good for the Otters.
They have faced the Rangers seven times this season. The Otters have lost all seven, the latest being a 6-4 loss in front of 3,758 at Tullio Arena Sunday night. The Rangers (39-17-4-2), which have already clinched an OHL playoff spot, spoiled Erie’s chance of clinching a berth for the second straight season.
The Otters (31-25-5-2) remained tied for fifth with Sault Ste. Marie for fifth in the Western Conference, although the Greyhounds faced London Sunday night. Seventh-place Saginaw, a 4-3 winner against Guelph Sunday, moved within a point of the Otters in the standings.
Kitchener grabbed the early lead on John Moore’s 10th goal of the season 3:48 into the opening period.
The Otters responded on Mike Cazzola’s deflection of Paul Cianfrini’s point shot – Cazzola’s 34th goal of the season – with 5:11 left in the period. But the Rangers’ Julian Cimadamore turned a fortunate bounce off surprisingly lively end boards into the tiebreaking goal with 28.2 seconds left in the period.
The Rangers started the second period quickly, as Jeff Skinner scored an unassisted goal – his 39th of the season just 16 seconds into the period. Otters winger Anthony Luciani responded with a hard-working unassisted goal of his own. He beat goaltender Brandon Maxwell, a former Otters’ draft pick, to a loose puck deep in the Rangers’ zone. Then Luciani banked a shot off Rangers rookie Ryan Murphy’s shin pad and into the open net to move the Otters within 4-2 at the 1:30 mark.
The Rangers regained a two-goal lead at 4-2 on Jeremy Morin’s 5-on-3 goal with 10:38 left in the period.
Yet, rookie David Broll, pictured at right, pushed a rebound created by a scramble in front of the net past Maxwell to move the Otters within 4-3 with 8:27 left in the second.
But the Rangers burned the Otters for an early goal in the third, too. And of course, Morin scored, which handed the Rangers a 5-3 lead at the 2:48 mark. Morin, pictured above, has 42 goals and 76 points this season – 12 goals and 17 points against the Otters in seven meetings. He has seven of those goals in Erie.
The Otters’ power play sliced Kitchener’s lead 5-4 at the 7:36 mark, as Greg McKegg scored his 36th goal of the season – 16th with the man advantage. But Skinner’s power-play goal, on assists from Morin and Murphy, sealed the Rangers’ win. Skinner has seven goals against the Otters this season. Skinner and Morin had two goals and an assist apiece to lead the Rangers. Zack Torquato (two assists) and Cazzola (goal, assist) paced the Otters.
* News and notes: The Otters scratched defenseman Derek Holden (sore back) for a second straight game. … Right wing Matthew Paton missed the game because of migraines.
- Victor Fernandes