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Rangers eliminate Knights in thriller

Five-year forward Mike Petizian scored in overtime for the seventh seeded Rangers to book a date with the West's best, the Windsor Spitfires
Rangers May 4 2022
Credit: Jim Van Horne, London

You know what they say about karma, right?

Kitchener Rangers forward Mike Petizian was robbed of a goal in Game 5, thanks to a botched video review in London.

In Game 7, also in London, he informed The Forrest City of karma's repercussions.

The five-year forward slapped home a Jack Harper shot 11:35 into overtime, and eliminated the London Knights. 

Kitchener clipped their rivals 4-3 in the game, and the series.

“It's an absolute blur,” said the Mississauga native. “That's the biggest goal of my hockey career. Since I've been here, the London Knights have run our show (..) For us to come in, and step up to the plate and beat these guys, it's unreal.”

The fifth goal of the series for the former OHL Cup MVP didn't come as a shock to Rangers brass. 

“He's the heart and soul of the team,” said head coach Mike McKenzie. “He didn't want his career to end. He's been clutch for us all year.”

“[Assistant Coach] Brennan Menard said in between periods, 'If anyone is getting it, it's going to be Petizian.' So, we had a feeling he might be the guy. I'm happy for him. He's a great kid. He works his butt off. It's really fitting he gets it done for us."

The Rangers don't make it to overtime though, if not for goaltender Paval Cajan.

He was incredible, especially late in the third period and into the first ten minutes of overtime.

The Czechia native made 51 stops in the second game of the back-to-back. 

“He's always giving us a chance,” said Petizian of his 19-year-old goalie. “Pav stayed composed and calm. He made some huge saves for us. A lot of this win goes to him.”

Joseph Serpa and Reid Valade elevated their game, as well, for Game 7. They were a part of every Rangers goal in regulation, registering three points each.

Mitch Martin was the other goal scorer for Kitchener, and he added an assist.

Knights forward Antonio Stranges made his return to the line-up – far from 100 percent – after missing Game 6 and was able to beat Cajan for one of the Knights goals.

But, again, Kitchener kept London leading scorer Luke Evangelista from scoring. After burying 55 goals in 62 games this year, the Nashville Predators prospect finished the series with just two tallies.

The tremendous game was the perfect cherry on top of a classic seven-game series between the two Midwestern Division Rivals.

“That's what Junior hockey is all about,” said McKenzie. “Two great teams, two rivals going at it; going seven games, going to overtime. It's great for the league. It's great for fans. We're just happy to pull through in the end.”

The win means the Rangers take their first playoff series against the Knights in five tries.

It also means a date with the Western Conference Champion Windsor Spitfires in Round 2. 

They'll start the series on Saturday, in the border city. 

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