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Special teams prove key as Attack tackle Rangers

Kitchener has now lost six of their first seven games of 2022

The fans can't get back in the building soon enough.

The last time the Owen Sound Attack were in Kitchener, sparks (and fists flew), penalties were handed out like candy and the crowd provided a great atmosphere in what was a Kitchener victory.

Friday night?

It was quiet. Almost too quiet.

The Attack (16-15-1-2) dominated special teams play, scoring two goals 26 seconds apart on a two-man advantage in the second to propel the visitors to a 5-2 win over the Kitchener Rangers (14-17-1-1).

Course, the heavyweights of that early December tilt were nowhere to be found (Arber Xhekaj was traded to Hamilton, while Owen Sound captain Mark Woolley is serving a suspension), but for two rival teams, the post-whistle scrums and chippy play was kept to a minimum.

Now, Rangers head coach Mike McKenzie will be the first to say the team won't use the lack of fans as an excuse for the way they've played as of late, but if there's anything to be derived from some of their games this year, it's the need to start on time.

Owen Sound controlled things early --- they led 16-3 in shots to start the game --- and the OHL's worst penalty kill stymied Kitchener's power play to an oh-for-three finish.

Colby Barlow put the visitors up just 85 seconds into the contest, while Ethan Burroughs scored his first of two goals on the night.

Sandwiched in between those two first period markers was Jack Harper's first career OHL goal, though you wouldn't know it with the display of hands, splitting the Attack defense and going five-hole on goalie Nick Chenard.

Matthew Sop tied it by picking the top corner nearly midway through the second, but that was short lived as the Attack scored what turned out to be their second and third power play goals on the night.

Burroughs' second of the game was an empty netter to seal it.

McKenzie liked what he saw from the second and third period, but 40 minutes isn't going to cut it.

Of note, the Rangers were without starting goalie Pavel Cajan, captain Francesco Pinelli and Carson Rehkopf.

But after losing six of their first seven games of 2022, they're going to need to show some resiliency as Kitchener battles among the bottom five teams in the Western Conference.

The Rangers will hit the road to Sarnia Sunday afternoon (pregame 1:30 p.m. on CityNews 570), with a chance to tie the seventh place Sting (14-14-3-1) in points.

Then, it's a rematch with this same Attack team next Tuesday night.

A game with fans in the stands.

And after Friday night, even if it's just 500 fans entering the building on Feb. 1, the atmosphere will be a welcome addition after what has been a month to forget.




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Mark Pare

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