By Jeff Hicks
Cody Sol yelled for blueline partner Jesse Young to pass him the puck.
Was Sol crazy?
Young -- a Kitchener Rangers rookie from nearby Walled Lake, Mich – had a chance to shoot with friends and family watching at Compuware Sports Arena.
So the 16-year-old blasted the puck and scored his first Ontario Hockey League goal in the Rangers’ 3-2 victory over the Plymouth Whalers on Saturday night.
Young’s third-period goal was also the winner as the Rangers took their sixth straight victory before 3,969.
“I knew Soly was calling for it, but it was a home crowd and I just wanted to take the shot and it went in.” said Young, who joked he may never pass it to Sol again.
“He can keep calling, I’m not passing.”
It’s not like Young picked the top corner. His wide shot hit the stick of Whalers defender Max Iafrate, son of former Maple Leaf Al Iafrate, and deflected into the net.
Flukey goal or not, it was a genuine win for the Rangers, who were out-chanced by the Whalers.
But Rangers goalie Brandon Maxwell, with 29 saves, was sturdy.
“Our goalie was simply better than their goaltender,” Spott said.
“I was really disappointed in our play. We didn’t get off the bus.”
Still, the Rangers got goals from Gabriel Landeskog and Waterloo’s Zach Lorentz.
Lorentz flipped the puck into the air and bunted it past Plymouth’s Scott Wedgewood from the slot. Shades of the baseball-swing goal the Whalers got from Andrew Fournier in OT here during the 2007 playoffs.
“Just got the stick on it,” Lorentz said.
The Whalers got goals from Robbie Czarnik and Tyler Brown but were thwarted by Maxwell on a number of good chances. Ex-Ranger Alex Aleardi was a late victim.
“We had way more chances than they did,” Aleardi said. “They just got a couple lucky extra bounces.”
Rangers blueliner Ryan Murphy also hip-checked a rushing Aleardi into a full tumble. It was an Old School moment from the OHL’s top scoring defender, who didn’t have a point.
“We needed some momentum,” said Murphy, who figured he’d land a big hit if he wasn’t scoring any big goals.
Matt Tipoff’s 14-game points streak came to an end.
The Rangers host the struggling Guelph Storm on Tuesday.
Rangers 3 at Whalers 2
1. Plymouth, Czarnik 4 (Schmitz, Brown) 4:58
2. Kitchener, Landeskog 16 (Akeson) 5:22
3. Kitchener, Lorentz 2 (unassisted) 15:50
Penalties – Czarnik, Ply (holding) :25; Devane, Ply (boarding) 7:53; Heard, Ply (tripping) 12:50; Catenacci, Kit (holding opponent’s stick) 17:46
Penalties – R.J. Mahalak, Ply (checking from behind) 6:37; Thomson, Kit (hooking) 18:13
4. Kitchener, Young 1 (MacLean) 3:08
5. Plymouth, Brown 8 (Livingston, Heard) 14:38
Penalties – None.
Shots on goal:
Kit 10-5-4 19
Ply 7-14-10 31
Goaltenders: Brandon Maxwell, Kit. Scott Wedgewood, Ply.
Power plays: Kit (0-4), Ply (0-2)
Referees: Brad Beer, Scott Hoberg
Linesmen: Scott Thornton, Matt Prozaki