The site of this one was the Activa Sportsplex and those in attendance saw the first regular season action for the Sun County Panthers as they took on a Kitchener team still searching for their first win of the season. It was a game that shifted period to period as the Panthers came out strong with lots of pressure in the first period. The second period saw the Rangers battle back and shore up some of their weaknesses on defense while the third period was complete domination for Kitchener en route to a 6-1 victory.
For Kitchener, it was a much needed win while for Sun County it was a learning experience early in the season.
Giveaways, Giveaways, Giveaways
The story of the first period for both teams, and the entire game for Sun County was the excessive amount of turnovers in the defensive zone. The first period saw Kitchener with an abnormal amount. Outlet passes that were picked off or attempts to clear that didn’t have enough steam on them led to a few chances and the Jake Nimmo goal for Sun County.
While Kitchener improved on their lapses in defense, Sun County’s continued throughout the game. Catalin Morin, who was the only goalie dressed for the Panthers with Kody Williams out, was hung out to dry on several occasions and a few big saves made this score closer than it could have been.
The Panthers defense really struggled with the forechecking of the Jr. Rangers and saw many of their passes intercepted or just completely fanned on. Puck control in their own zone definitely one of the more important things the Panthers will be working on in upcoming practices.
Kitchener once again gets under the skin
It was yet another game in which the Jr. Rangers were the much bigger team but the Panthers were up to the task physically, even landing some of the biggest hits on the day. The one thing the Jr. Rangers seemed to do at ease was get under the skin of the Panther players.
Kitchener capitalized with three powerplay goals on the day and the majority of the penalties taken by Sun County were either out of frustration or a form of retaliation. At least three penalties were caused because a Panther retaliated against a Jr. Ranger and this was something that was a factor last week when Kitchener played Cambridge.
Teams will or may have already figured out the gameplan of Kitchener, but the Jr. Rangers can poke the bear a bit and gain valuable powerplay time, I’m sure they will take it.
Justin McCombs shines bright
As many of you reading this already know, Justin McCombs is the only 2001 born player who is in the starting lineup for a Minor Midget team. It was on Saturday that we finally saw the potential that the Kitchener coaching staff saw to bring McCombs up to play with the big boys.
McCombs was all over the ice against Sun County. Coming up the middle on the rush, digging deep along the boards behind the net and pressuring the defense on the forecheck. He was a player everyone noticed yesterday afternoon. When he had the puck, his stick handling and sharp cuts were leaving Panthers in their tracks.
McCombs scored twice and assisted on another goal. McCombs is going to be a fun player to watch develop over the next couple of seasons.
Kitchener Jr. Rangers 3 Stars:
- Justin McCombs
- Carter Lennon
- Josh Helgerman
Sun County Panthers 3 Stars:
- Jake Nimmo
- Jeremy Oriet
- Jack Bowler