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Rangers rout Sarnia to stay perfect

All top-six forwards earned a multi-point night in the most dominant win of the young season

It's still early. It's still early. It's still early.

That being said, the Kitchener Rangers played their most complete game of the, again, young OHL season.

“We showed a little more consistency throughout the game,” said head coach Mike McKenzie. “We were tighter defensively, made better decisions, and started clicking offensively a little more.”

You can say that, again. All top-six forwards had a multi-point night and the Rangers routed the Sarnia Sting 5-1, in front of over 4,300 fans.  

Joseph Serpa had two assists.

Declan McDonnell, Mike Petizian, and newly named captain, Francesco Pinelli all had a goal and a helper.

Reid Valade earned first-star honours, with two goals and an assist, while rookie Cameron Mercer tallied three assists.

“[Mercer] 's a young guy, but he's really responsible. He's really smart,” said McKenzie. “He can play centre. He can play wing. You can throw him on the PK, he can play anywhere you need him too. It's nice having a guy like that. He's getting rewarded for playing hard and practicing hard.”

The Rangers certainly tightened-up their defensive game, as well. They held the Sting to just four shots in the third period, and 25 total.

Pavel Cajan made 24 saves, and was one shot away from the shutout.

“He was unbelievable,” said McKenzie. “It really kept us going when it was 1-0, and 2-0, when the game was still real close. He was exceptional. It's huge, to us, to have two guys back there that are so steady.”

Valade was a beast all night. He came close to scoring another goal, but the referees deemed the puck didn't cross the line. The former first-rounder was named to the team's leadership group a few hours before puck-drop.

Pinelli, the LA Kings first-rounder, becomes the team's new captain and will be flanked by McDonnell, Petizian, Valade, and Arber Xhekaj as rotating alternates.

“I still sometimes come to the rink feeling like I'm a younger guy,” said Valade.

“Some of the young guys are asking me, 'What's Sarnia like? What's Guelph like?' I have to tell them, 'Honestly, I don't really know, the league is so new this year'.''

At least he'll be able to answer those questions ahead of Tuesday night. The Rangers return to The Aud when they host the Guelph Storm.

Kitchener took four points from their Highway 7 rivals to kick off the season last weekend.

Pregame begins at 6:30, with Mike Farwell and Chris Pope. 

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