Both the Plymouth Whalers and Kitchener Rangers sport identical 7-2-0-1 records in their past 10 games.
The Whalers sit second in the western conference by virtue of being first in the west division but actually trail the Rangers by four points in the standings.
No matter. It's tight up and down the conference with only eight points separating third seeded Kitchener from seventh place.
The Rangers are on a roll thanks in part to Josh Leivo and Tobias Rieder. Both forwards own the OHL's longest current point scoring streak at 12 games.
It's Leivo's second run this season. In Sudbury, he found success with another German centre.
Speaking of Rieder, he's out of tonight's lineup. Turns out the centre was in a minor car accident Thursday night and suffered minor injuries.
Matt Puempel-Matia Marcantuoni-Josh Leivo
Brend Pedersen-Josh Sterk-Justin Bailey
Ben Thomson-Domenic Alberga-Derek Schoenmakers
Darby Llewellyn-Curtis Meighan-Eric Ming
Ben Fanelli-Frank Corrado
Ryan Murphy-Evan McEneny
Max Iafrate-Jared Gilbert
Joel Vienneau (23-13-2-6) starts.
Ryan Hartman-Vincent Trocheck-Tom Wilson
Stefan Noesen-Rickard Rakell-Garrett Meurs
Matthew Mistele-Mitchell Heard-Sebastian Uvira
Danny Vanderwiel-Zach Lorentz-Cody Payne
Austin Levi-Colin MacDonald
Nick Malysa-Gianluca Curcuruto
Alex Peters-Connor Carrick
Alex Nedeljkovic (8-1-1-1) starts.
- Kitchener Rangers draft pick Danylo Znaczko took in tonight's game. The blueliner was selected in the 12th round in last year's OHL draft. Fellow prospect Frank Hora (8th round, 2012) was at the Aud earlier this month.
- Update on Rieder. He is day to day with bruises and bumps. He will not play this weekend. Was told that includes Monday's game vs. Guelph. Injuries are not expected to keep him away long term.
- I don't have a say in the game's three stars but for those as confused as me, it seems Plymouth goalie Alex Niedeljkovic was the first star, even though he was announced as the third star. And a worthy honour it was after stopping 52 shots.
- Kitchener's power play was 1-for-9. Why not throw Max Iafrate out for a shift or two? He has a big shot from the point and it's not like anything else is working.
- These late finishes are killer. The game didn't end until after 10 p.m. tonight.
- If it feels like Kitchener goes to the shootout often, it's because it does. The Rangers have been to the saw-off 13 times this season, or about every four games.
- Depth scoring is beginning to hurt the Rangers yet again. That's three straight games where the same guys are hitting the score sheet.
- Not that it's an excuse, but Plymouth arrived an hour before puck drop. Also, expect more from Rickard Rakell, who was playing his first game in a while after sitting for the past seven while with the Anaheim Ducks.
- Nice to see all Kitchener's scouts in attendance tonight. These guys put in tons of hours at rinks across Canada and the U.S. throughout the year and don't get to the Aud that often.
- Erie beat London 4-3 tonight and should be fired up to face the Rangers Saturday after losing 11-4 to Kitchener last time around.
- I think it's safe to say Matt Puempel has rediscovered his game. He has three goals in the past two games.
- Josh Leivo added an assist to extend his point scoring streak to 13 games.
JB's top three Rangers: Matt Puempel, Matia Marcantuoni, Josh Leivo