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Spirit score six unanswered and shock fragile Blueshirts

The Kitchener Rangers have blown a lead in each of their last three games at The Aud, but none larger than Friday against the Saginaw Spirit

“I've been here for 10 years. That's by far one of the most embarrassing losses I've seen,” said Kitchener Rangers head coach, Mike McKenzie.

Hammer, hitting the nail.

“That was definitely the most embarrassing game I've been a part of,” echoed Kitchener rear guard Arber Xhekaj.

Let's set the scene, shall we?

The Saginaw Spirit were forced to leave three forwards in the States, after they didn't meet the Ontario Hockey League's Covid-19 protocol.

To stack the deck further against them, the Spirit starting goalie, Cambridge-native Triston Lennox, is on the shelf with a lower-body injury.

The Rangers jumped out to an early lead, and added to it, spotting themselves up 4-0 midway through the second period.

Still, the Spirit stayed the course and shocked the Blueshirts 6-4 for just their second win at The Aud in their last 12 visits.

“We have a really weak-minded group, it seems, right now,” said McKenzie. “There has to be better resiliency. You have to have more mental grit, more mental fortitude, to deal with the peaks and valleys. We're really not good with dealing with the valleys right now.”

Saginaw captain Camaryn Baber tallied his first career hat-trick – which he earned over the span of ten minutes – in the win, sending his third into the empty net.

The Rangers continue to be absolutely abysmal on the power-play. They're 0-for their last 19, and have given up three short handed goals, including two Friday versus Saginaw.

“That's a double whammy. It's not scoring us goals, but it's giving the other team goals which is not a good thing when you're on the power play,” said an extremely facetious McKenzie. “It's killing us right now.”

It wasn't just the coaching staff embarrassed. The players were showing their frustration, as well.

“We're all turning on each other,” said defenceman Arber Xhekaj, who has scored in every game since his return from suspension. “Everyone's trying to blame another guy for mistakes. We have to stick together on the bench, because there's no benefit to that

“I was pretty mad the boys didn't go see the goalie (after the game), because it's not his fault,” said Xhekaj, of his teammates who wanted to head straight to the room, after the final whistle.

“You have to give him a tap after the game. We have to stick together as a team.”

The good news: There's tomorrow. The bad news: It's against the London Knights.

Kitchener kicks off a home-and-home, to wrap up their three-game weekend, with the Knights Saturday.

Pregame on City News 570 begins at 3:30 with Mike Farwell and Chris Pope.

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