Kitchener Rangers knock off London Knights in Game 7 thriller

Kitchener Rangers veteran Mike Petizian fired home a rebound at the 11:35 mark of overtime to end a series that had all the entertainment value that you could pack into a best-of-7.

The Rangers survived wild flurries around their net as OT began. They watched a 2-on-1 by the Knights end with a shot that just glanced off the side of the net off the stick of Tonio Stranges. They watched Camaryn Baber zoom in on their net on a breakaway. They saw Sean McGurn wire a shot at their net that just went wide and they witnessed London rookie Denver Barkey baseball bat a puck out of the air and right on goal.

All of those things happened in the first ten minutes of overtime but none of them found the back of the net for the Knights.

Mike Petizian of the Kitchener Rangers celebrates his series winning overtime goal.

Jim Van Horne / 980 CFPL

Pavel Cajan made 51 saves in goal for the Rangers. He and Jackson Parsons combined to make 224 saves in the seven game series and will headline any future looks back at what happened between Apr. 21 and May 4 of 2022.

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Kitchener started the scoring in the game when Mitchell Martin won a battle for a puck behind the London net and used his long reach to wrap it around the net and over the goal line at 11:21 of the first period.

Camaryn Baber was sent in on a breakaway a little over five minutes into the second period and he made good with a deke to his right and scored his first of the playoffs to tie the game.

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With London on a power less than three minutes later London captain Luke Evangelista fed a cross-ice pass to Gerard Keane and he blasted a shot into an open side past Pavel Cajan and the Knights had their first lead.

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It didn’t last long as Kitchener went to the man advantage and Reid Valade converted a centering feed to knot things up 2-2.

Tonio Stranges missed Game 6 with a non-COVID illness but returned for Game 7 and put London back in front with a hard wrister from the right side of the Ranger zone.

Again the lead was short-lived. It lasted one minute and 48 seconds before Joseph Serpa deflected a puck into the London net at 4:47 of the third period.

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The teams went back and forth from there until the seconds ticked down to end regulation.

London outshot Kitchener 54-29.

Kitchener will take on the Windsor Spitfires in a Western Conference semi-final series that gets going on Saturday, May 7.

The London Knights celebrate a goal by Gerard Keane.

Jim Van Horne / 980 CFPL

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All time in Game 7

The Knights now have a record of 9-9 in Game 7s played over their franchise history. Best-of-7 series were not introduced in the Ontario Hockey League until the 1986-87 season. Before that series were decided on the first team to reach eight points. That’s how London played their famous Game 8 against the St. Catherine’s Fincups in 1977. It was needed to reach eight points.

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The Knights have played both Windsor and Kitchener three times in a Game 7. London is 2-1 against the Spitfires. Kitchener now has the upper hand against London with a record of 2-1.

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Looking for new homes

Ex-Knights Chris Tierney and Victor Mete will not be back with the Ottawa Senators for 2022-23. Tierney is an unrestricted free agent and Mete is a restricted free agent who will become unrestricted now that Ottawa has let it be known that Mete will not be given a qualifying offer. Tierney has spent the past four seasons with the Senators after the beginning of his career with the San Jose Sharks. Tierney won back-to-back OHL championships with the Knights in 2012 and 2013 and was London’s captain in 2013-14. Mete won the 2016 Memorial Cup with the Knights and started his career the next year as an 18-year old with the Montreal Canadiens. He was claimed off waivers by Ottawa in April of 2021.

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