The week of Remembrance Day each year, the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers honour a different historical organization of the Canadian armed forces and those who have fallen in conflict. This season, the Rangers faced off against the Mississauga Steelheads as they paid tribute to the Canadian Rangers. The matchup itself pitted hotshot Montréal Canadiens prospects against one another, forward Filip Mešár and defenceman Owen Beck. It was a chance for the Rangers to dig themselves out of a hole they had dug themselves to this point in the season.
However, on a night that honoured the Canadian military’s Rangers, the hockey Rangers fell 4-1 in a game that was fairly evenly matched, despite the seemingly lopsided scoreline. They then hit the road for tilts against the Sudbury Wolves and North Bay Battalion, with mixed results.
Rangers’ Remembrance Day Ceremony Pays Tribute to Canadian Rangers
For the 2022-23 edition of the Remembrance Day ceremony, the Rangers paid homage to an oft-overlooked division of the Canadian military, the Canadian Rangers. Established in the midst of the Second World War as the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, they originally acted in defence of Canada’s west coast against the threat of Japanese invasion. After the surrender of Nazi Germany, the Rangers’ primary task was serving as a defence force in remote communities in Canada’s north against potential Soviet incursion, and they have since served those same remote communities in the delivery of medicines and medical equipment (including COVID-19 vaccines), emergency evacuations, and disaster relief.
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The commemorative jerseys worn in the game used the logo of the Canadian Rangers on an all-red jersey with a poppy placed on the left side. Members of the corps were honoured pregame and were gifted a jersey as part of the ceremony. The fans in attendance were also able to bid on a jersey, with proceeds donated to the Kitchener-Waterloo Poppy Fund and the 78th Fraser Highlanders Conestoga garrison.
Rangers Defeated Soundly Despite Even Performance
The game itself was arguably the most evenly-matched contest the Rangers have played all season. Even though the 15th-placed Rangers and the sixth-placed Steelheads seem a world apart in the standings, the game itself reflected two teams on much more even footing. They traded scoring chances well into the first period before Mississauga’s James Hardie scored his seventh of the season at 15:14, and the frame ended with the Steelheads in front on the scoreboard, but not on the shot clock.
The middle frame was much the same as the opener, as the Steelheads potted the only goal to take a 2-0 lead. Hardie scored his second of the game on a screaming one-timer off of an excellent cross-crease pass from Columbus Blue Jackets‘ hopeful Luca DelBelBelluz, beating Rangers’ goaltender Marco Costantini on the glove side.
The Rangers got on the scoreboard at 2:09 of the third period, when forward Jesse Fishman capitalized on a pass from Kitchener native Kyle Morey to cut the Steelheads’ lead in half. The Steelheads restored their two-goal lead midway through the period, and Hardie added an empty net goal to complete the hat trick. Despite losing the game 4-1, the Rangers managed a few good chances in the third, ultimately finishing even in shots at 28 each.
Rangers Split Games in Northern Ontario
The Remembrance Day game constituted the first of three games in three nights, as the Rangers hit the road for matches in Sudbury and North Bay on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, respectively. It was clear from puck drop in Sudbury that the Rangers were still feeling the effects of the previous contest. The Wolves jumped out ahead with three goals in the first 4:27 and potted the first 30 seconds after the opening draw. Ottawa Senators prospect Tomas Hamara got the boys in blue on the board, but the Wolves quickly responded.
The Rangers were only able to muster three shots on goal in the first period, and the Wolves’ dominance continued for the rest of the contest. The Pack shut down Kitchener’s power play at each opportunity, handing them a goose egg on four attempts. They scored one in the second and added an insurance marker in the third to take the game 6-1.
The next night against the Battalion was a much more well-rounded performance, and the Rangers seemed eager to put the previous night’s performance behind them. Midway through the opening frame, forward Matthew Sop found a streaking Mešár, who potted his sixth of the season in nine games. The Rangers’ dominance continued as captain Francesco Pinelli, Sop, and the aforementioned Mešár, all recorded a multi-point game. The Battalion scored early in the third to cut into what was a 4-1 Ranger lead and then again to bring the game to 4-3 midway through the final frame (from ‘Rangers Take Out Troops to End Two Game Slide,’ The Record, 13/11/2022).
Staving off a 6-on-4 Battalion advantage, the Rangers prevailed and snapped the Battalion’s seven-game winning streak in what was a marked improvement from the previous two games. Despite Sunday’s victory, they will have to mount an impressive run to find their way back to the upper echelon of the OHL’s Western Conference.
Covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and other topics for The Hockey Writers. Also a big fan of the Chicago Cubs and progressive rock music.