It only took 14 seconds for the Kitchener Jr. Rangers to score their first goal of the season and they were able to ride that momentum to a 4-1 victory over the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs to get their Minor Midget season started on the right track.
It was an incredibly quick start for Kitchener. With top Alliance forward Justin McCombs starting the game at centre, his speed and quick movements opened up the defence of the Chiefs and a quick feed over to newcomer Brendan Bauer who put the fans in a frenzy early. While the scoring got underway early in this game, things settled down fairly quickly afterwards.
Both the Chiefs and the Jr. Rangers really did play neutral zone hockey for the remainder of the first period and the first half of the 2nd. It became apparent pretty early in the game that these teams were still adjusting to new coaching staffs and to each other to be honest.
Midway through the 2nd period, the Alliance was alerted of the presence of Cole MacKay. MacKay, a Sault Ste. Marie native who played with the Bantam Greyhounds last season, joined Kitchener this year and made an immediate impact. After some penalty trouble put Kitchener up on a 5-on-3, MacKay scored his first Alliance goal to put Kitchener up 2-0.
Elgin fought back late in the 2nd period with a powerplay goal of their own. A nice deflection by Dylan Vandersleen cut the Kitchener lead in half going into the 3rd period. The 3rd period started just like the first as it took just 32 seconds for MacKay to put in his 2nd of the game and regain Kitchener’s two goal advantage.
The 3rd period featured more neutral zone play but also a lot of special teams play. Elgin got into some penalty trouble, but did play solid on the penalty kill. The exception came late in a powerplay for Kitchener when MacKay completed the hat trick. 4-1 was the final and Kitchener was able to get off to a much better start this year than they did last year.
Elgin-Middlesex 3 Standouts:
- Carter McIlwain – While McIlwain did not register his name on the score sheet this afternoon, his presence on the ice was certainly felt. He will certainly be a catalyst for this offense this season.
- Mark Woolley – Woolley will show his physical play throughout the season, but it was his play on the point in this game that stood out. A powerful, low shot that will do wonders on the PP.
- Noah Kim – In a game contested heavily in the neutral zone, Kim provided lots of pressure on the forecheck for the Chiefs. Kim made Kitchener make lots of quick decisions, not all of them the best ones.
Kitchener 3 Standouts:
- Cole MacKay – A hat trick in your Alliance debut will get you that top spot in the standout department. MacKay put up great numbers last year in the Soo and will be a great scoring threat on this team along with McCombs.
- Justin McCombs – Speaking of McCombs, he showed why he is considered a top forward in the league. His speed and quick thinking brings lots of defensive pressure, which leads to some slick passes to his open teammates.
- Corson Marit – While not facing a plethora of shots on the afternoon, Marit made some big saves in net for Kitchener in his first start for the Jr. Rangers after coming over from Guelph over the off season.