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Kitchener Rangers advance to Western final

Adam Mascherin of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

For the first time in six years, the Kitchener Rangers are in the Western Conference Final.

The Rangers shellacked the Sarnia Sting 6-2 Sunday to win the series in six games.

With the series on the line, Kitchener’s big names came to play. Adam Mascherin led the way, getting off the schneid with two goals and an assist.

“I’ve been playing well I think every game. I think you guys, not to be rude, pay attention to that more than I do,” said Mascherin. “Obviously I’d like to score, but I think I’ve been playing well all series, but it obviously felt nice for sure.”

“Mascherin has been battling the flu,” said Kitchener head coach Jay McKee. “He’s been a little bit off. He came up with two big goals tonight after a pretty quiet series.”

As for how the 40-goal scorer was feeling post-game, “Like crap,” said Mascherin.

For the fourth time in the series, the Sting got the scoring started but Mascherin’s first of the game, and fifth of the playoffs came just 36 seconds later.

“You can see, when he does find that goal, he gets that extra step, and that was huge for us,” said McKee.

Givani Smith, Kole Sherwood and Logan Brown each added two points in the series-clinching win.

Brown leads all scorers in the post-season with 21 points. Mascherin and Sherwood are tied for third with 17.

“I think I’m probably the happiest guy in the room,” said the Rangers’ second-overall pick in 2014, Mascherin. “Myself and [Bunnaman] are the only guys that have been here for the whole time, so it’s a pretty cool feeling. I can’t stop smiling since the buzzer went.”

It wasn’t all smiles though.

Overage defenceman Austin McEneny left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

“We have to see how he is tomorrow. I’m not going to judge anything here. He’s hurting,” said McKee.

Mario Culina was fantastic again for the Rangers. He stopped 37 shots. He earned a .927 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.40 in the second round.

The Rangers now wait for the winner of the Owen Sound Attack and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds series. They’re playing Game 7 Tuesday night.

“This city is going to get going,” said Waterloo native Logan Stanley, who remembers watching the last time the Rangers franchise made the Western Conference, in 2012. “There’s a buzz around the city already, and it’s just going to pick up.”

“I’m excited to get into the Aud for that first game at home.”