Kitchener Rangers race past London Knights in holiday return

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Six second-period goals by the Kitchener Rangers led them to a 7-2 victory over the London Knights on Saturday afternoon as both teams returned from their holiday break.

The Knights shook off any turkey-flavoured rust right away as they scored on their first two shots of the game. Matvey Guskov deflected a point shot past Jacob Ingham just 1:43 into the opening period and then Billy Moskal fired home his fifth goal of the year just under five minutes later.

The middle period belonged to the Rangers, though, as their veterans went to work offensively. Dallas Stars draft pick Riley Damiani scored twice and assisted on two others and Jonathan Yantsis kept pace on a second consecutive 50-goal season by scoring goals 20 and 21 of this year. Overager Greg Meireles and defenceman Arber Xhekaj scored 28 seconds apart to make it 6-2 through 40 minutes.

Kitchener got the only goal of the third period as Liam Hawel stripped a puck free in the Knights zone and fed Mike Petizian to finish the scoring. Petizian put the puck past Dylan Myskiw, who replaced Brett Brochu in the third period.

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The Rangers penalty kill turned in a big performance against London’s power play as they killed off all nine Knights opportunities. Kitchener went 2-for-7 with the man advantage.

The Rangers outshot London 30-24.

The Knights will await word from the OHL on two penalties handed out during the game. London forward Cole Tymkin received a match penalty for blindsiding as he hit Rangers forward Isaac Langdon at centre ice just past the midway mark of the opening period. Langdon did not return to the game.

Knights defenceman Gerard Keane was also ejected from the game in the second period when he was assessed a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Decisions on those incidents may have to be made quickly as London heads for Sarnia on Sunday afternoon.

READ MORE: Around the OHL — Preparing for the worst, and hoping it never happens

Russia blanks Canada at world juniors

Team Canada and Team Russia are now 1-1 at the 2020 world junior hockey championship. Russia blanked Canada 6-0 on Day 3 as Grigori Denisenko, Alexander Khovanov and Nikita Alexandrov all scored once and added an assist and Amir Miftakhov made 23 saves in goal. Russia opened the scoring 1:44 into the game and led 3-0 after 20 minutes. Russia will play Team USA on Sunday. The Americans are also 1-1 so far after an opening-game loss to Team Canada and then a victory over Germany on Day 2. Canada will face Germany on December 30 at 9 a.m. eastern time.

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READ MORE: Russia sticks it to Canada with 6-0 win at world juniors

Merkley sitting top-three yet again

According to stat-master Geoffrey Brandow, Ryan Merkley of the London Knights will finish the decade with a distinction only he can claim. Merkley once again sits in the top three in scoring among Ontario Hockey League defencemen. This is the third year in a row that the San Jose Sharks prospect has been in that position and as long as he stays ahead of Mississauga Steelheads defender Thomas Harley through New Year’s Eve, Merkley will be the only OHL defenceman in the 2010s to rank that highly on offence for that long.

READ MORE: Around the OHL — Captains share their thoughts on leadership

Up next

The Knights will begin their annual home-and-home with the Sarnia Sting that sometimes ends one calendar year and begins another or leads into a new decade, as it will do this time around.

London and Sarnia made it through most of the first half of the season only seeing each other once. The game didn’t happen until Friday, Dec. 13 at Budweiser Gardens. Sting goaltender Ethan Langevin made 35 saves and Sarnia won 5-3.

Both games of the back-to-back will be 4 p.m. starts. They will play Dec. 29 in Sarnia and New Year’s Eve in London.

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Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.