Rangers ride early pair to win

KITCHENER, Ont. — Riley Damiani’s goal at 4:12 of the first period stood up as the winner as the Kitchener Rangers ended a three-game losing skid with a 2-1 Ontario Hockey League victory Sunday over the North Bay Battalion.

Damiani scored nine seconds after Adam Mascherin was credited with a goal against Battalion goaltender Julian Sime in a game that saw all the scoring in the first period.

Goaltender Luke Richardson faced 31 shots for Kitchener, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 8-6-1 for 17 points, second in the Midwest Division. The Rangers won for the first time since a 5-3 road verdict Oct. 15 over the Flint Firebirds.

Justin Brazeau scored for the Battalion, 5-8-2 for 12 points, tied for third place in the Central Division with the Sudbury Wolves with a game in hand.

Sime made 35 saves as the Troops completed a two-game road trip after a 3-2 loss Saturday night to the Owen Sound Attack in which Brazeau scored both North Bay goals.

Sime produced stops on close-in chances for Kole Sherwood and Rickard Hugg before the puck glanced off Mascherin’s right skate into the net. After a brief conference with the video goal judge, referee Joe Celestin signaled that the goal would stand.

Damiani struck when he rushed to the net to steer a pass from Connor Bunnaman between Sime’s pads.

Penalty killer Brazeau replied at 18:58. Riley Bruce blocked a drive by Jack York, and the puck rebounded into the neutral zone, where Brazeau chased it and, with York in pursuit, broke in alone to put a wrister over Richardson’s glove. The goal, Brazeau’s second shorthanded strike, was his team-leading 11th of the season.

The Battalion, which enjoyed two power plays in the period, directed 11 shots at Richardson, who made good stops on Kyle Potts and Daniel Walker, barreling in off the right wing, Adam Thilander, Nick King, Andy Baker and Cam Dineen.

Kitchener forged an 18-9 edge in second-period shots.

Sime was busy, with the Rangers threatening during their only power play of the frame. He turned away a good chance for Joseph Garreffa and made two stops on Sherwood before denying Damiani in the final seconds, and Jake Henderson just missed from the deep slot as time expired. Baker, Thilander and Brett McKenzie were among those who tested Richardson.

The Troops outshot Kitchener 11-7 in the third period. Richardson kicked aside a drive from the right-wing circle by Luke Burghardt and sprawled to deny Brazeau’s attempt at the rebound in the sixth minute. Jesse Saban blasted the puck from the blue line in the 16th minute, with Brandon Coe taking two cracks at the rebound, and Richardson fought off a Brazeau drive in the 17th minute and a Burghardt rush in the 19th.

Burghardt, well known to the Rangers as a former member of the division rival Guelph Storm, was hauled down with a virtual horse-collar tackle on a move to the net and mugged at centre ice, without a penalty being assessed on either play.

The Battalion opens a three-game road trip Friday night at Flint, continuing a stretch of seven straight games against Western Conference teams. The game can be seen live on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: Attendance at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium was 6,896 … Brazeau has nine goals and two assists for 11 points in the last seven games, having gone without a point only once in that span … Kitchener’s 18 second-period shots were the most the Battalion has allowed in a period this season, eclipsing the 16 by Owen Sound in the first period Saturday night … Christian Purboo backed up Sime … North Bay went 2-8-1 in October … The Battalion was 0-for-3 on the power play. Kitchener went 0-for-2 … Opening lines included Burghardt centring left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Brazeau, McKenzie centring Adam McMaster on left wing and right winger Coe and Potts pivoting left winger Luke Moncada and right winger Alex Robert. Kurtis Evans centred left winger Walker and right winger Baker … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Simon Rose, Rhys Forhan, Patrick Brown and Christian Propp … Backing up Richardson was Chris McGonigle, who has yet to see action this season. He played three games in 2016-17, posting a 1-2-0 record, 2.68 goals-against average and .937 save percentage with one shutout. A free-agent signing in 2016, the 19-year-old resident of Belmont, Ont., southeast of London, never was taken in the OHL Priority Selection after breaking his back in a game … Kitchener dressed 13 forwards and five defencemen … Joe Monette was the other referee.

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