Francesco Pinelli made his return to the Kitchener Rangers line-up after serving a three-game suspension.
And, what a return it was.
The Captain had a goal for every game he missed, and the Rangers stomped the Guelph Storm 5-1.
“His compete level was through the roof,” said head coach Chris Dennis. “He was doing things hard all over the ice. It gives a spark to our bench when they're watching their leader go out and lead like that.”
The win marks the first time the Rangers have avoided back-to-back losses, after falling to the Windsor Spitfires Friday night.
Not only is a natural hat-trick impressive, he did it solely in the second period.
Even more impressive, is that he scored a goal 5-on-5, on the power-play, and shorthanded. A feat even Dennis hadn't seen before.
“I didn't even know that. It's good I guess,” laughed Pinelli. “Just trying to be good on all special teams. We had a great game as a team, and that's what's most important.”
Kitchener's Matt Sop, and Carson Rehkopf, had a goal and an assist, while Hunter Brzustewicz added two helpers.
On the other end, Marcus Vandenberg stopped 22 of 23 shots, for his first Ontario Hockey League win.
“Terrific. He was solid back there,” said Dennis. “He stayed very calm, kept our bench calm, never looked like he was out of position. Really happy for him, he played great.”
His shutout bid was spoiled with just 3:25 left in the third period, with the Storm on a power play.
The Rangers try to ride this momentum and finally string a few wins together at once.
They're at home to the same Storm team on Tuesday in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game.
The Harris Law Pregame begins at 6:30 p.m.