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Rangers and Greyhounds battle for West crown in Game 7

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

(2) Kitchener Rangers at (1) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Series tied 3-3

A battle of two Western Conference contenders not willing to cede an inch to the opposition has come down to a seventh and deciding matchup tonight in Sault Ste. Marie as the host Greyhounds look to rebound against the Kitchener Rangers.

Kole Sherwood’s overtime heroics on Sunday afternoon kept Kitchener alive as the Rangers prevailed 4-3 despite surrendering a two-goal lead in the third period.

The home team has won all six games in the series thus far and the Greyhounds look to continue that trend before what’s sure to be an engaged Essar Centre crowd.

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Taylor Raddysh scored twice in Game 6 and sits tied with Kitchener’s Logan Brown for the OHL Playoff scoring lead. He says the Hounds look forward to getting back in front of their home fans.

“We’re pretty confident,” Raddysh said following Sunday’s overtime loss. “We’ve got a good crowd there in the Soo. We really rally off them. Since I’ve been in the Soo we’ve only lost maybe two or three games at home. We’re comfortable there and we’ll be ready to go.”

The Greyhounds have a recent Game 7 victory in their rearview mirror, defeating the Owen Sound Attack in a wild 9-7 victory on April 17th to advance to the Western Conference Championship Series.

The Rangers meanwhile haven’t played in a Game 7 since 2012 when they eliminated the Plymouth Whalers to advance to the West Final. The Blueshirts face the Greyhounds in a Game 7 scenario for the first time since 1992 when Sault Ste. Marie took a 7-1 win at the Sault Memorial Gardens, advancing past the second round enroute to a second straight OHL Championship.

Sunday’s OT hero Kole Sherwood enters action on a four-game point streak, leading the OHL Playoffs in goal-scoring with 14. Rangers goaltender Mario Culina has also been steady, turning aside 45 shots to earn second star honours on Sunday.

“This is the opportunity that we’ve been hoping for,” said Rangers head coach Jay McKee in anticipation of puck drop Monday night. “In a Game 7 anything can happen. It can come down to bounces. Obviously the intensity is going to be very high. It’s a moment that these players all want to play for.”

While the Rangers are 0-5 at the Essar Centre this season, the chance to play spoiler in an intense series full of physicality is something McKee’s Rangers relish.

“It’s an opportunity for us to go into their arena and spoil what has been an exceptional season for them,” he continued. “For them it’s an opportunity to win at home and feel great. It’s going to be an exciting game.

“It’s one of those nights you get up for.”

Fans won’t want to miss the OHL’s first Conference Final Game 7 since 2013 tonight when the puck drops in Sault Ste. Marie at 7:07pm. Catch all the action at OHLLIVE.com.

The Series so far:
Game 1: KIT 2 vs. SSM 3 (Highlights/Game Centre)
Game 2: KIT 2 @ SSM 4 (Highlights/Game Centre)
Game 3: SSM 0 @ KIT 3 (Highlights/Game Centre)
Game 4: SSM 4 @ KIT 7 (Highlights/Game Centre)
Game 5: KIT 3 @ SSM 7 (Highlights/Game Centre)
Game 6: SSM 3 @ KIT 4 OT (Highlights/Game Centre)

Sault Ste. Marie Game 7 history (9-5):
2018 – defeated Owen Sound in 2nd round / 2016 – defeated Sarnia in 1st round / 2007 – lost to London in 2nd round / 2005 – lost to Windsor in 1st round / 2000 – defeated Erie in 2nd round / 1992 – defeated North Bay in OHL Championship Series / 1992 – defeated Kitchener in 2nd round / 1985 – defeated Peterborough in OHL Championship Series / 1984 – lost to Kitchener in OHL Semi-Final / 1983 – defeated Kitchener in OHL Semi-Final / 1982 – defeated Brantford in 2nd round / 1981 – defeated Kingston in OHL Semi-Final / 1978 – lost to Ottawa in 2nd round / 1976 – lost to Sudbury in 2nd round

Kitchener Game 7 history (10-8):
2012 – defeated Plymouth in 2nd round / 2011 – lost to Plymouth in 1st round / 2010 – lost to Windsor in West Final / 2010 – defeated London in 2nd round / 2008 – defeated Belleville in OHL Championship Series / 2003 – defeated Plymouth in West Final / 1997 – defeated Sarnia in 2nd round / 1996 – defeated Barrie in 1st round / 1993 – lost to London in 1st round / 1992 – lost to Sault Ste. Marie in 2nd round / 1992 – defeated Windsor in 1st round / 1990 – lost to Oshawa in OHL Championship Series / 1984 – defeated Sault Ste. Marie in OHL Semi-Final / 1981 – defeated Niagara Falls in 1st round / 1979 – lost to Niagara Falls in 2nd round / 1968 – lost to Niagara Falls in league final / 1967 – lost to Toronto in 2nd round / 1966 – defeated Toronto in 2nd round

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