(WINDSOR, ON) – The Kitchener Rangers have taken a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven preliminary round playoff series against the Windsor Spitfires after holding on for a 2-1 win Monday night.
The Rangers Jeremy Bracco opened the scoring with just 35 seconds remaining in the opening period, from Ryan MacInnis and Darby Llewellyn. Bracco’s goal came from just to the left of Spitfire net minder Mike DiPietro, as he was allowed to park himself in the low slot.
The goal stood up throughout the 2nd period and into the 3rd when Brandon Robinson was whistled down for a 2 minute slashing penalty. A minute into the power play Aaron Luchuk netted his second of the series, from Connor Chatham and Cristiano DiGiacinto.
Robinson made amends for his transgression when he scored the winner with less than a minute 30 on the clock. MacInnis and Bracco assisted Kitchener’s leading scorer.
The clubs will faceoff in Game 4 tonight, starting at 7:05pm. Brendan Lemieux will make his return to the line up after sitting two games after being suspended by the OHL for slew-footing defenseman Frank Hora.
There’s only been a difference of 4 goals scored between Windsor and Kitchener, so the Spitfires could use Lemieux’s scoring prowess to stave off elimination. The Arizona native scored 23 goals and 48 points in 34 games for Windsor, since coming over from Barrie. So far, in his single game this series, Lemieux has 1 assist.
The Spitfires also need defenseman Logan Stanley to stay out of the sin bin. The sophomore from Waterloo has 10 penalty minutes in the 3 games thus far, and is sitting with a –2 +/- rating.
Playing well this series has been rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. During the regular season, Sergachev scored 17 goals from the blue line in 67 games, or 1 goal every 4 games. In the 3 games against Kitchener, the young Russian has co-lead on the Spitfires with 2 goals; a goal every 1.5 games. Sergachev is –3, however.
Around the league, Erie and Kingston each have 3-0 leads in their respective series, while Mississauga, Peterborough, and Ottawa in the East and Sault Ste Marie and London in the West hold 2-1 advantages.