Rangers on losing end in Game 1 to London

The Kitchener Rangers showed once again that they can hang with the big dogs. The Rangers entered their second-round series with the London Knights going toe-to-toe with the best team in the Western Conference.

There was also no rust on the London Knights after having a week off after eliminating the Flint Firebirds in four games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Rangers only had one day off in between their first-round series with the Erie Otters which ended in six games Tuesday night and starting their second-round playoff series with the London Knights.

But, the Knights showed why they are going to be a tough out in the second round.

Kitchener opened the scoring with Luke Ellinas scoring his 5th of the playoffs at 14:41 of the first just for London to tie the game about three minutes later.

The seesaw battle would continue through the second where Eduard Šalé at 16:08 of the second period, just for the Knights to get it back just over two minutes after Kitchener went up 2-1.

The Knights would then go up 3-2 in the third period on a controversial call where rule 63.7 was utilized to count a goal that would put the Knights up for the first time in the game. Rangers goaltender Jackson Parsons was trying to stop a wraparound chance from the London Knights where the net was dislodged. The puck then popped out to Knights forward Denver Barkey where he took a shot where the net should have been had it not been dislodged. The play was reviewed for a lengthy time before the referees determined that Barkey would have scored had the net not been dislodged by Parsons.

The OHL official rulebook states “In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal. In order to award a goal in this situation, the goalpost must have been displaced by the actions of a defending player, the attacking players must have an imminent scoring opportunity prior to the goalpost being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts.”

After the goal was confirmed to be allowed after the lengthy review, Hunter Brzustewicz tied it up about 29 seconds later at 3-3. Shortly after, Simon Motew took a holding penalty to put the Knights on the powerplay where they scored to take their first lead of the game. The Rangers would get a 5-minute powerplay opportunity in the third period after Sam O’Reilly was called for a boarding major and a game misconduct. The Rangers couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and part of it was negated by a penalty taken by Carson Rehkopf.

London would add an empty net goal to take Game 1, 5-3 from Budweiser Gardens.

Rangers Head Coach Jussi Ahokas said he wasn’t very pleased with the team’s first period.

“I wasn’t pleased in our first period, I think there we played bad,” he said post-game. “After that, second period, I thought that was the best from us. Good chances, good goal. Third period, I wondered on the goal when they got the third goal but it is what it is. We could have played a little bit better in the end but all-in-all, the series just started. We need to steal one here and then we’re going home. We play Saturday again. I didn’t like our game and still it was so close. We weren’t even close where we could be,” said Ahokas.

Ahokas said he got an explanation about the third London goal after it was reviewed.

“I guess they said for them the game was still going on [despite the net being dislodged]. They watched it and I guess they decided after review they thought it was in.”

Ahokas added that he thinks his powerplay knows it can be better.

“We need to be better on the powerplay for sure. We weren’t good,” said Ahokas. “I know we’re going to be better. The Rehkopf penalty, I don’t know where you get it from but it’s playoff hockey and we have to deal with the refs.”

Catch the latest episode of Rangers Talk here.

London has a 1-0 series lead with Game 2 on Saturday. Hear that game on CityNews 570 starting with the pre-game show at 3:30 p.m., puck drop set for 4 p.m.

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