- Dylan Seitz sat out tonight's game with the bug that is ripping its way through the club. Meanwhile Cedric Schiemenz returned after missing one game with said bug.
- Adam Mascherin left the game midway through the second period with an upper body injury and did not return. The good news? Coach Jay McKee thinks he's going to be OK.
- That was Guelph's first win at the Aud in almost three years. The team last won March 4, 2014 - a 2-0 win with Robby Fabbri scoring the winning goal. There were 10 losses in Kitchener in between wins.
- Only Garrett McFadden and James McEwan remain from that 2013-14 roster but both didn't play in that game so tonight's win was their first at the Aud in their careers.
- The loss snaps Kitchener's three game winning streak.
- Guelph lost a tough one last night. The Storm were 24 seconds away from OT in Niagara when the IceDogs scored to win 3-2. They came in tired but held on for a big win.
- Cole Carter was promoted to the top line after Mascherin exited with the injury.
- It was a bit of a shaky start for Rangers G Luke Opilka but he settled down nicely in the final two frames. He made a game saving stop on a three-on-one Storm rush in the third.
- Ex-Rangers captains Ben Fanelli and Michael Catenacci took in the game.
- Kitchener had the edge in shots 34-27 and faceoffs 29-28.
JB's top three Rangers: Greg Meireles, Elijah Roberts, Connor Bunnaman
For the second time in five days the Rangers rallied with fewer than two minutes to go and the goalie yanked to tie the Windsor Spitfires and earn a point or more in extra time.
They lost in the shootout last Thursday but won last night 4-3 thanks to Connor Bunnaman's winner.
Big wins. Hey, the Rangers have defeated Erie and Windsor (two CHL top ten ranked clubs) in this mini three game streak and that's something to be proud of. The club has seven of a possible eight points over its past four games and has a real shot of capturing their first five game win streak of the season if they can take out Guelph on Friday and Ottawa on Sunday.
Nick McHugh. The sophomore has responded to an increase and ice time and responsibility post-trade deadline. He has two points in his past two games, had a breakaway stopped last night and is an effective member of the team's shutdown line.
Luke Opilka. For as great as Michael DiPietro was last night - and he was great - Opilka made more saves. He has looked especially sharp in the past two wins over Windsor and Erie.
Booing. Not a fan of it. Jeremy Bracco has only been gone for nine days and was welcomed back with a chorus of boos in the shootout in his first trip back to the Aud since the trade.
Power play. It's has struck once in the past 15 tries. Bracco ran the PP and an adjustment period is expected but cashing while a man up is critical for Kitchener's success.
Western conference. Only in the west can you get points in four straight games but gain little ground. Despite the run, the Rangers remain in sixth place.
- Cedric Schiemenz missed the game due to an illness.
- Adam Mascherin extended his point scoring streak to nine games by scoring the game-tying goal with 1:11 left.
- Kitchener native Nic Hague (Mississauga Steelheads) has been named an alternate captain for Team Orr at the Top Prospects game Jan. 30 in Quebec City.
- The Rangers had a quick start but Windsor took over the second half of the first period - scored twice and had 10 consecutive unanswered shots.
- But boy did the Rangers show some resiliency. Spits keeper Michael DiPietro was robbing them blind but the Blueshirts kept pounding away and rallied for three third period goals before Connor Bunnaman's no doubter to cap the shootout.
- The Rangers are on an impressive run with seven of a possible eight points in their past four games. That stretch includes wins over Mem Cup hosts Windsor and the Erie Otters.
- Another stellar game by the shutdown line of Llewellyn, McHugh and Henderson who kept Windsor's top unit off the score sheet.
- If you're lining up playoff opponents and you're the Rangers I think you want Windsor in the first round.
- Adam Mascherin and Connor Bunnaman combined for 17 shots.
JB's top three Rangers: Connor Bunnaman, Luke Opilka, Frank Hora
I've been inundated with correspondence since the OHL trade deadline.
The general consensus among Rangers fans is that they are happy (for the most part) with the returns GM Murray Hiebert got for the three players he moved - Jeremy Bracco, Mason Kohn and Jacob Cascagnette.
But many are left frustrated at the thought of another rebuild.
The Rangers have produced winning teams in the regular season but playoff success has been fleeting during Hiebert's reign (one playoff series victory in three years). And it will be even tougher this season after the team stripped away some of its veterans.
The reality is that the team is probably two years away from contention. But for those who can't wait that long here are some ways the team can take big steps forward as early as next season.
"I kind of expected to have a season like this. I thought I had a good year last year, and showed why I was the second overall (OHL) pick in 2014. Every year I'm improving, and I think I'm going to keep doing it."
- Connor Bunnaman (lower body) returned after missing one game.
- Kitchener's magic number to clinch is a playoff spot is 18 (Saginaw regulation losses and/or Rangers wins).
- The Rangers played an ideal first period and went right after a tired looking Erie squad. They didn't have any goals to show for it but outworked their opponents.
- First goal in 10 games for Nick McHugh, who scored in the second period.
- Adam Mascherin had two assists and maintains his two point lead over Alex DeBrincat in the OHL scoring race.
- Nice to see Luke Opilka get a win. He has been the victim of some tough losses lately - games in which he made key saves but took the loss. Made 34 saves today.
- Erie looked tired but woke up in the third to outshoot the Rangers 15-3.
- That's only the fourth time this season that Erie has been held to one goal or less.
- Hats off to Kitchener's PK units and the shut down line of McHugh, Llewellyn and Henderson who had the task of guarding Erie's big boys.
- Kitchener has now defeated Erie twice this year (the Rangers beat the Otters 5-2 on New Year's Day).
- One of the bonuses since the trade deadline has been the play of new defensive pairing Andrew Burns and Frank Hora. They eat minutes, play against top players and look like they've been D partners for years.
JB's top three Rangers: Luke Opilka, Greg Meireles, Darby Llewellyn
- Connnor Bunnaman is out with a lower body injury and is listed as day to day.
- Jonathan Yantsis makes his debut for the Rangers. The winger signed as a free agent Tuesday.
- The Rangers snapped a four game losing streak which was their longest of the season. Kitchener took the lead in the second and never relinquished it.
- Luke Richardson is now 3-0 and looked strong. Two of Barrie's goals were scored on odd-man rushes in which he had little chance.
- Yeah it's a busy schedule for the Rangers but every team in the OHL is going through the exact same thing.
- Some changes are starting to emerge in the wake of the trades this past week. The young guys are getting more ice time and responsibility.
- Cedric Schiemenz had a goal and an assist and played perhaps his best game of the season. That's two consecutive good games for the German. He scored his first goal against Saginaw earlier this season like fellow countryman Tobias Rieder. And he almost followed him again. Rieder scored his third ever goal against Barrie. For Schiemenz it was his second career tally.
- Joseph Garreffa continues wielding a hot stick. He has six goals and six assists in his past seven games.
- Nick McHugh really stood out tonight. When he uses his speed and forechecks he's very effective. Barely missed out on being one of my stars.
- Schiemenz is also beginning to see some PP time.
- Ex-Rangers continue to thrive elsewhere. Mason Kohn had an assist on Oshawa's lone goal while Jacob Cascagnette had a goal and an assist in Mississauga's 6-2 win against the Soo tonight.
- Faceoffs: 38-23 Barrie.
JB's top three Rangers: Cedric Schiemenz, Adam Mascherin, Joseph Garreffa
- Spits forward Jeremy Bracco has been battling the flu and a foot injury but has been cleared to play. He's first in team scoring with 51 points. Aaron Luchuk is next with 32.
- New forward Jonathan Yantsis is not in Windsor with the team. The club is hoping to have him at the Aud on Friday but not sure if he'll dress or not yet.
- Rangers D Andrew Burns had an 'A' on his sweater.
- So you just watched the world juniors and thought you'd give junior hockey another try. You tune into tonight's game and get a rough opening 20 minutes. Not the most exciting hockey we've seen this season. But those who stuck with it were rewarded by a fantastic finish.
- Ex-Ranger Jacob Cascagnette scored the game-winning goal for the Steelheads in their 2-1 win over North Bay while Mason Kohn scored the game tying marker for Oshawa in its 5-4 OT loss to Peterborough. Cascagnette is No. 26 for his new team while Kohn has No. 67 on his back.
- Crazy chances in overtime, none better than Adam Mascherin falling at the blue line and turning the puck over to former roommate Jeremy Bracco who breaks in all alone but is denied by Luke Opilka. Oh the drama.
- Two goals for Connor Bunnaman gives him 21 on the season and his first 20-goal campaign of his OHL career. The Rangers had the goalie yanked for CB's game tying goal.
- Gabe Vilardi scored the shootout winner. Bracco, Julius Nattinen and Aaron Luchuk all missed for the Spits. Bunnaman, Mascherin, Cedric Schiemenz and Cole Carter took the shootout and did not convert for the Rangers.
- The Rangers outshot the Spits 12-3 in the third period and 38-20 in the game.
JB's top three Rangers: Connor Bunnaman, Luke Opilka, Dylan Di Perna
At this point home ice advantage in the playoffs is going to be tough. In fact, the Rangers might have to start watching the race behind them though I have confidence they'll still make the playoffs.
But it's going to be a difficult first round matchup no matter what team they draw.
A few readers have asked for a roundup of the moves so here you go:
Goalie Dawson Carty Forward Mason Kohn Forward Jeremy Bracco Forward Jacob Cascagnette 8th round pick 2017 13th round pick 2018
F Cole Carter D Andrew Burns F Jonathan Yantsis 2nd round pick 2019 2nd round pick 2023 2nd round pick 2024 2nd round pick 2025 (conditional, may move up to earlier year) 3rd round pick 2020 3rd round pick 2021 3rd round pick 2022 (conditional on Kohn returning for OA season) 4th round pick 2020 (conditional on Cascagnette returning for OA season) 5th round pick 2018
It has been a busy few days and the Rangers play a ton this week/weekend.
I'll have more breaking down where the team goes from here likely next week.
It’s a challenge weeding through all the information as it breaks, especially with social media involved. But it’s also an absolute blast.
Here are some thoughts now that the deal has had time to marinate.
* Jeremy Bracco had a no-trade clause in his contract. So he could veto any deal he wanted to. He admitted that he had a say in where he landed and that Windsor was his first choice. Could the Rangers have received more from another team? Probably, but there isn’t much you can do when the player has the final say. Most players have no trade clauses for what it's worth.
* The 2025 second round draft pick acquired by the Rangers in the deal is theirs no matter what. When they get that pick may change, but they’ll get it.
* Windsor is short on second rounders in the immediate future and that’s why the ones the Rangers received are so far down the road. I doubt the Rangers will even have them by those drafts. They’ll probably be used in other deals before then.
* Cole Carter is coming off a shoulder injury. GM Murray Hiebert thought he may be good to go this week but the team won’t find out until he gets here. It doesn’t appear to be long term.
* The thought is that Carter will be a top six forward and could line up with Adam Mascherin and Connor Bunnaman next season on an all-19-year-old line.
* Andrew Burns was a must add. The Rangers liked his game regardless but he gives the defence some relief. The team is playing three rookies and a second year guy right now in the back end. That’s thin.
* Murray Hiebert said the phones are still ringing and that the team is still listening to offers. The heavy lifting is likely done but he’s not ruling out another swap.
* The Rangers still have three four second round picks in the next three OHL drafts.
* Bracco is still battling the flu and has a sore ankle from blocking a shot at the worlds but plans to play Thursday against the Rangers.
* Bracco on lining up against former roommate and linemate Adam Mascherin on Thursday: "I think Adam and I will laugh a little bit at the faceoff."
The Kitchener Rangers have dealt one of their biggest offensive weapons.
The Ontario Hockey League club sent world junior hockey championship gold medalist Jeremy Bracco to the Windsor Spitfires Monday evening.
In return the Rangers received defenceman Andrew Burns, forward Cole Carter, second round draft picks in 2023 and 2024 and a conditional second in 2025.
Windsor also received an 8th round pick in 2017 and a 13th in 2018.
Bracco has 17 goals and 34 assists in 27 games and was second in team scoring. The Freeport, N.Y. native won a gold medal with the United States in a thrilling 5-4 shootout victory against Canada Thursday night.
The Rangers selected the 19-year-old in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Bracco was committed to the U.S. national team development program at the time and played for both the American U17 and U18 squads. He attended Boston College briefly on a scholarship before leaving the program to join the Rangers about a year and a half ago.
The Toronto Maple Leafs second round draft pick had 64 points in 49 games last season and led the team in playoff scoring with 14 points in nine games.
Bracco has been used on the Rangers’ top line and top power play unit for most of the season.
Carter, 18, was Windsor's fourth round pick in the 2015 OHL draft. He has 19 points in 28 games this season.
Burns, 19, is in his fourth season with the Spits and gives the Rangers' back end a much needed lift after the team lost Doug Blaisdell and Connor Hall to season ending injuries. He has four assists in 36 games this season.
Kitchener plays Windsor Thursday at the WFCU Centre. It's unclear if Bracco will play as he's still battling the flu and a sore foot.
Carter and Burns are en route to Kitchener and may play in Erie Tuesday.
Jacob Cascagnette has been traded to the Mississauga Steelheads.
The Kitchener Rangers dealt the local boy to the Fish today for a third round draft pick in 2020 and a conditional fourth.
The Blueshirts selected Cascagnette in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.
The 19-year-old was in his fourth season with the Rangers and has primarily played as the team’s third line centre.
Cascagnette has six goals and seven assists in 35 games and has been the team’s most reliable faceoff man this season.
The trade reunites him with former Kitchener Jr. Rangers teammates Nathan Bastian and Stephen Gibson.
It’s a good destination for Cascagnette who should see an increase in minutes. The Fish started slow but are considered contenders for the eastern conference crown.
Mississauga is in second place in the east with a record of 15-16-5-3.
It’s also a savvy move by Rangers general manager Murray Hiebert since it helps clear up a crowded overage situation brewing for next season. The team can only dress three of F Mason Kohn, F Jake Henderson, D Doug Blaisdell, F Jeremy Bracco (unlikely to return) and G Luke Opilka in 2017-18.
It's OHL Christmas for fans - at least those wanting to see their respective clubs shed talent for the future or acquire big names to make a run at the championship.
And the rumours are already flying.
The Rangers have been playing well recently and have picked up some wins against some premier clubs (Windsor, Erie). But the west is so top heavy that making a move will be a challenge.
So that means Kitchener is better suited as a seller. Of course, that doesn't mean they will be. The team has long been a big believer in building through the draft.
That said, the club has several intriguing pieces.
Jeremy Bracco leads the way. He won't be back next season and was top five in OHL scoring before leaving for the world junior hockey championships where he only upped his stock by winning gold, collecting five points in seven games and by scoring on the shootout in the semifinal win against the Russians.
He's an instant top three addition to any club looking to go far.
Jake Henderson is another player that has value. He'd cost considerably less and provides depth for a club looking for secondary support. He has received a lot of attention of late from scouts from other OHL clubs and has the added bonus of being able to return next season (either to play or to be used in another deal).
Frank Hora is also one to watch. I'm not sure the Rangers want to trade their captain but there are teams out there looking for veteran back end help. Kingston rearguard Stephen Desrocher was the hot name but GM Doug Gilmour said the club will not trade the OA blueliner. That will force some clubs to shift to a Plan B that could include Hora.
- Jeremy Bracco is back in town but got the night off. Tonight's game would be three games in three days for the winger. Blake Speers also sat out for the Soo.
- D Doug Blaisdell is out for the season. He left a game in Windsor on Dec. 29th with a knee injury. He had already missed about a month with a shoulder injury earlier this season. He joins Connor Hall and d-men gone for the season.
- It wasn't the cleanest game but the Rangers at least snagged a point. And credit the lads for rallying four times in the game.
- It's one game, but the Soo defence that was on display tonight is not winning an OHL title or a Mem Cup. That said, the 'Hound sure make the most of their opportunities in the o-zone.
- The Rangers capitalized on their chances too and went 3-for-5 on the power play.
- Captain Frank Hora has no goals in 20 games and then collects three in two games. His career high is four in one season.
- Fitting that Waterloo native Boris Katchouk scored the winner 11 seconds into overtime. He had a good group of supporters in the stands.
JB's top three Rangers: Frank Hora, Adam Mascherin, Greg Meireles