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It's official: Rangers and Knights in the first round

On the same day the Kitchener Rangers captain signed with the LA Kings, the team clinched a first round playoff berth against the London Knights
pinelli
FILE. Kitchener Rangers captain Francesco Pinelli eyes the puck in a recent game against the Erie Otters.

Francesco Pinelli will never forget his 19th birthday. 

The Kitchener Rangers captain signed his NHL entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings. 

Quite the birthday present to himself. Pinelli knew about the contract signing for a little while, but had to keep it quiet until it was officially released, despite wanting to tell his close friends and family. 

"We are very excited for Francesco and his family. It's great to see him reach one of his goals," Rangers General Manager and Head Coach Mike McKenzie told City News 570. "We look forward to seeing him continue to develop as a Ranger before moving on to pro hockey." 

On top of that, his team scored in every period Monday, and tripped the Erie Otters 3-2. 

The win solidifies the Rangers as the seventh seed in the Western Conference, and a first-round date with the London Knights. 

Pinelli's day got even sweeter with an assist in the win, which was his 100th point in the Ontario Hockey League. 

"I didn't even know it was my 100th point," said the Kings second round pick in 2021. "To get that is also really cool. But, the most important was to clinch playoffs. That was our main goal and that was another addition for this special day for me."

Paval Cajan made 36 saves in the win, while Andrew LeBlanc had a goal and an assist. 

The Rangers have now won three games in a row, and have only allowed five goals against over the streak. 

"It's nice to be clicking at the right time," said McKenzie. "We want to be going into playoffs feeling good about ourselves and having confidence."

"It's always exciting when Kitchener and London meet, especially in the playoffs. We're going to have to be ready to go. It's going to be a tough series for us, but we're up for it." 

Pinelli echoed his coach's thoughts. 

"I love it," said the Kitchener captain with a big smile. "I love playing against them. We're gong to show them what we got, and just because they're in second place doesn't mean anything." 

We get a preview of the opening round Wednesday, when the Rangers travel to London to wrap up their regular season series.




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Mark Pare

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