It was the first back-to-back losses this season for the Kitchener Rangers.
They dropped their first meeting with an Eastern Conference foe Saturday. The Oshawa Generals grounded the Blueshirts 2-1.
Despite the mild temperatures outdoors for October, the Rangers offence has been ice cold. They only mustered 19 shots on goal in The ‘Shwa and their power play is stuck in a 1-for-20 tailspin over the last five games, including a handful Saturday.
“Our power play is costing us hockey games, and we have to figure it out,” said Rangers Head Coach Jay McKee. “We have a long week of practice this week and we’ll be putting a lot of time in to figure out how to score some goals.”
The struggles come after the team added Kole Sherwood this week, a top-10 scorer last season, without giving up a player on their roster.
“I wouldn’t say I was uncomfortable [in the first two games] but there’s obviously some stuff I need to be better at and be more familiar with,” said Sherwood. “A full week [of practice] will be better for the whole team.”
“We have the offensive ability. We have good depth,” said McKee post game Saturday. “We have to find some line chemistry and get guys clicking. It usually takes a couple games where they really connect and have a flow. We’re not finding the back of the net. Its getting a little bit frustrating for our players.”
On the flip side, the penalty kill was good again. It went 5-for-5, including running down a five-minute major, after defenceman Giovanni Vallati was shown the gate for a head check. The Kitchener penalty kill has only allowed two goals on its last 25 kills.
The Rangers defence took another hit Saturday though, when Connor Hall was benched in the third period after taking an unsportsmanlike penalty for yelling at the referee from the bench. His coach wasn’t shy with words post game.
“He’s hurting our hockey club. I told him that after last game,” said McKee, speaking about Friday when Hall took four stick infraction penalties. “He’s a guy that has the ability to make us a better team. When we have a young defensive lineup and we lose Vallati, he has to be smart. He’s simply just going to lose his ice time.”
Hall leads the Ontario Hockey League with 43 penalty minutes. Logan Stanley is third with 27 minutes.
The loss was the first game Kitchener has played against the Eastern Conference this year. The Rangers went 16-4 in each of the last two seasons against the East.
The team is back at home on Friday, when they face the Owen Sound Attack for the third time this season already.
The pregame gets underway at 7:00 p.m.