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Rangers rip Spits to get off the schneid

Mike Petizian earns first OHL hat-trick and the Kitchener Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak
Kitchener Rangers forward Mike Petizian

It was a line shuffle that needed to work.

Losers of three in a row, the Kitchener Rangers were in Windsor to face the Spitfires, and had a familiar top line.

Mike Petizian was put on the wing with Declan McDonnell and Francesco Pinelli.

“I think they were excited to play with each other again,” said head coach Mike McKenzie. “That was a line that we had intact two years ago, kind-of like our third line. They were really good together, they had some chemistry.”

On Saturday, it combusted. 

Petizian notched his first career hat-trick, McDonnell had two of his own, and Pinelli earned four assists. The Rangers routed the Spits 6-3.

“I felt right at home,” said Petizian. “Me and [Pinelli] talked and said. 'Let's get that line back together'.” I hadn't played wing in a while, but felt like I belonged there.”

It wasn't all positive, though.

The Rangers found out defenceman Arber Xhekaj would be serving Game 1 of a five-game suspension, for a slew foot at the end of Friday's loss to the Soo.

Rookie Matt Andonovksi jumped into the line-up and earned two assists. He played more than expected after Simon Motew suffered a lower-body injury in the first period, and didn't return.

“Not really sure what the extent of it is right now, so we'll probably see in the coming days. It doesn't look great but you never know. We're hoping for the best.”

It was another sensational outing for goaltender Paval Cajan. He stopped 39 shots in the win, improving to 4-1 on the season.

His stats are among the top of the league, rocking a Goals Against Average of 2.75 and a .919 Save Percentage.

“We're running out of words and phrases to use to describe him. He's been great every game. Without him tonight, we're not in it,” said McKenzie.

The Guelph Storm visit Kitchener Tuesday for their fifth meeting of the year already. Pregame at 6:30 p.m. with Mike Farwell and Chris Pope. 

- With files from Chris Pope

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