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Blueshirts battle Battalion with a choice to make

Rangers head coach Chris Dennis challenged his team following Saturday night's loss in Sudbury
matt-sop-2022
Matt Sop

Kitchener Rangers head coach Chris Dennis challenged his team, ahead of Sunday's game against the North Bay Battalion. 

Rightfully so, after their second loss of the weekend in Sudbury, Saturday night, when just about the entire team was flat.

"They have to make a choice and it starts right at the top, and it goes all the way down," said Dennis after Saturday's loss. "Do they want to be a 'win two, lose two' kind of team? Or, do we want to start getting our feet dug in here and make a bit of a run?"

As the old saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. The Blueshirts walked into the North Bay Memorial Gardens and it was clear early the path they wanted to take.

Kitchener jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and eventually bumped the Battalion 4-3, stopping the Troops' seven game winning streak.

"We dug in and found a way," said Dennis. "We're still not quite out of it. We still want to test fate a little bit, but all in all a much better effort."

Marco Costantini was a big part of it, making 29 saves in the win, many of them stellar stops in the third period when the Rangers were outshot 11-1. His biggest came in the first period, when he absolutely robbed Kyle Jackson with a glove save.

"[It was] Ridiculous. Ridiculous, but that's why he's here, and that's why he's won," said Dennis. "Every now and then you're going to need the big save and that's what he's here for."

Every now and then you also need someone to step up.

Trent Swick returned to the team, after missing seven games and scored his fourth goal of the year. Kitchener native Matt Sop was rewarded for playing well lately, and bumped to the first line with Francesco Pinelli, and Filip Mešár.

"You just have to stick to your game, and that's what the coaches reiterated to me," said Sop, of his role with two of the top Rangers. "They're two great players; so skilled. I just tried to work for them, do the best I could to get them open, and it worked out."

Yes, it did. Pinelli and Mešár each had a goal and an assist, while Sop had an assist on both their goals.

"[Sop was] Excellent," said Dennis, "I thought he was making plays, I thought he was working hard. Really happy with his game today."

Kitchener turns their attention to another three-game weekend, starting with another game against North Bay, Friday at The Aud. The pregame show begins at 7 p.m. on CityNews 570.

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