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Sting stop Rangers, amid penalty controversy

A Francesco Pinelli penalty played a pivotal role in the game, which left the Kitchener Rangers General Manager with more questions than answers
Rangers Captain Francesco Pinelli fights for position with Sarnia forward Nolan Burke in Tuesday's game

There were 19 National Hockey League prospects on the ice, but most are talking about a penalty.

Kitchener Rangers captain Francesco Pinelli was served with a five-minute cross checking major, at 7:22 of the third period, with the Sarnia Sting still leading 2-1.

"I didn't think it was necessarily vicious," said Rangers head coach Chris Dennis.

"It was undisciplined for sure, but we can't see an angle where it clearly hits [Sting player, Nolan Burke] in the face. [The ref] didn't seem to question that. He said he saw it live, so that's all I got."

It didn't cost Kitchener the game, but it certainly didn't help them. The Sting scored on the ensuing man advantage, and twice more in the period, and smacked Kitchener 5-1.

The score looks lopsided, but it isn't a true reflection of the game.

"I loved our first two periods. I thought it was a great hockey game. I thought we had our chances. I thought we really carried the play," said Dennis, of his team who opened the scoring just 53 seconds into the game.

"A penalty really turned the game in the third."

Not only did it turn the game, it also drew the ire of Kitchener general manager Mike McKenzie. Not because of what happened after, but the inconsistency is what bothers him.

"It's not about the five-minute major for cross check," said McKenzie. "It's more about if that's going to be a penalty and that's going to be something you want out of the game, to protect players' heads - which I completely agree with - I'd just like to see some consistency."

He's pointing to Sunday, January 22nd, in London. Adrian Misaljevic was on the receiving end of a check, in open ice. He left the game, and hasn't played since.

Like the Pinelli penalty, the officials took time to look at the iPad. Unlike the Pinelli penalty, they determined there was no head contact, and London was not assessed a penalty.

"I just think it's important to make sure we're protecting our players," said McKenzie. "It's concerning we have a player sitting at home, he can't play hockey, can't do school work, because he has headaches, he's dizzy; all the symptoms of having a concussion."

"I feel like we've failed a player on our team, and I'm always going to stick-up for our guys."

The Rangers host the Guelph Storm Friday at The Aud. The pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with Mike Farwell and Chris Pope.

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