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Kitchener Rangers routed on home ice by Highway 7 rivals

Last Updated Oct 31, 2018 at 1:18 pm EDT

Kitchener Rangers defenseman Arber Xhekaj (8) tries to fight off Guelph Storm forward Tag Bertuzzi (24) in front of goalie Luke Richardson. Mark Pare/570NEWS

On the night before Halloween, the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium was a house of horrors for a depleted Rangers line up.

The first didn’t go according to plan, as Guelph stormed out to a 4-1 lead through 20 minutes and they never looked back in a 6-2 steaming of the Blueshirts Tuesday night.

Keep in mind, the Rangers were without seven regulars in the lineup: Kyle Gentles (lower body), Connor Hall (shoulder), Carter Tresoor (suspension), Nick McHugh (dental), Reid Valade (Team Canada U17s), Donovan Sebrango (Team Canada U17s), Matt Gordon (undisclosed injury).

Liam Hawel opened the scoring with 5:30 gone, and Storm captain Isaac Ratcliffe extended the lead on the power play a couple moments later.

Mike Vukojevic delivered a backhand with 7:34 left to slice the lead in half.  But Keegan Stevenson’s shorthanded marker and an even strength tally from Cam Hillis in the latter stages of the first gave the visitors some breathing room.

Ratcliffe and Stevenson each scored their second of the night in the second period to make it 6-1, a pair of awful defensive showings by the home team.

Both were left alone: Ratcliffe in front on a power play at 14:23 and Stevenson collecting a rebound on the rush with 20 seconds on the clock.

Jonathan Yantsis scores his 12th of the year with about six minutes gone in the third to wake up the crowd, but that would be all she wrote for this one.

Kitchener starter Luke Richardson was pulled after 40 minutes, stopping 21 of 27 shots and saddled with the loss. Lucas Pfeil made 12 saves in a third period relief effort.

Anthony Popovich stopped 37 of 39 to get the victory for Guelph.

The Rangers welcome the Windsor Spitfires to The Aud for the first time this season Friday night.