Rangers rally for third consecutive win

KITCHENER — Just call them the comeback kids.

For the third consecutive game, the Kitchener Rangers rallied to win and pick up a crucial two points as they jockey for playoff position in the Ontario Hockey League’s western conference.

On Wednesday, the Blueshirts overcame a three-goal deficit to beat Saginaw.

This past Friday, it was two nil Erie before the home side rallied for a win at the Aud.

And there were more heroics on Sunday on East Avenue when the Rangers trailed their Highway 7 rivals the Guelph Storm 2-1 before potting a pair of third period tallies for a 3-2 victory.

“It’s the same story I guess,” said Rangers general manager and bench boss Mike McKenzie. “We’d like to play with a lead at some point, but we’ve been all right coming from behind. We feel like we’re never out of a game.”

Playing catch up isn’t ideal.

But collecting two points in any fashion is paramount for the Rangers who, with Sunday’s win, remain in seventh place in the OHL’s western conference, tied with the Sarnia Sting and four up on the ninth place Erie Otters with 13 games left in the regular season.

The victory was also Kitchener’s sixth in the past eight games. The club is getting hot at the right time and all these comebacks are telling.

“It shows that we never give up,” said goalie Jackson Parsons, who made 31 saves for his first win since Feb. 1. “It shows that we’re relentless no matter what.”

Michael Petizian put the home side up 1-0 in the first period with his fourth short-handed goal of the season.

But Kitchener native Braeden Bowman and forward Jake Karebela cashed in the second for a 2-1 lead, which held until Rangers rookie Andrew LeBlanc evened things up in the third.

LeBlanc, who has six points in his past in his past five games, also set up Simon Motew’s winner on the power play with 1:54 left in the game.

The victory also snapped Kitchener’s four-game losing skid against Guelph, though the Storm was missing three regular defencemen in Daniil Chayka (lower body injury), Ashton Reesor (broken jaw) and Michael Buchinger (suspension).

It was just the second start for Parsons since returning from a 12-game layoff due to a shoulder injury. But the lack of action was hardly noticeable.

“It just comes right back to me,” he said. “The mental prep hasn’t changed. If anything, it has gotten better. I’m ready whenever the team needs me.”

The 17-year-old backup, who improved to 7-9-0-0, added that watching tons of video helps when he’s not playing on a regular basis.

“I like to watch the other team play the night before, just so I know what’s going on,” he said. “I look for tendencies of the players. It’s just something I like to keep in the back of my mind.”

Kitchener (25-26-2-2) returns to action Tuesday in Windsor at 7 p.m.

Kitchener 3, Guelph 2

First period

1. Kitchener, Petizian 29 (Nolet) 11:03 (sh)

Penalties: Mercer, Kit (cross checking) 4:51, A. LeBlanc, Kit (hooking) 10:06

Second period

2. Guelph, Bowman 22 (unassisted) 8:01

3. Guelph, Karabela 11 (Pastujov, Allen) 12:43 (pp)

Penalties: Profaca, Gue (hooking) 9:06, Bench, Kit (too many men) 12:28, Martin, Kit (interference) 19:05

Third period

4. Kitchener, A. LeBlanc 5 (Martin, Serpa) 6:45

5. Kitchener, Motew 5 (A. LeBlanc, Rehkopf) 18:06 (pp)

Penalties: Supryka, Gue (hooking) 16:20

Goalies: Parsons, Kit (W7-9-0-0), Oster, Gue (L14-6-3-1)

Shots on goal

Kit: 6-12-8=26

Gue: 11-15-7=33

Referees: Patrick Battista, Jesse Wilmot

Linesmen: Kyle Rodgers, Tim Valeriote

Attendance: 5,884

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