In the lone game on the OHL schedule this evening is a Midwest Division matchup between the Guelph Storm and Kitchener Rangers, who lie just one point apart in the standings. Tonight’s game features two goaltenders named to the USA World Juniors preliminary roster, John Gibson and Garret Sparks.
A preview of tonight’s OHL action between Kitchener and Guelph:
• Kitchener: 18-8-1-1; 38 points, 28 games played — 79 GF, 63 GA – 7-3-0-0 in last 10
• Guelph: 17-9-0-3; 37 points in 29 games played — 115 GF, 97 GA – 5-3-0-2 in last 10
The Rangers are on a two-game winning streak, having won on Saturday against Plymouth and winning against Windsor a night prior to that. Ben Thomson, Matia Marcantuoni, Radek Faksa and Justin Bailey scored for Kitchener in the victory over the Whalers.
The team has won four of its last five games dating back to November 23, scoring 18 goals in that stretch of time.
Center Matt Puempel leads the Rangers with 21 goals in 26 games. Combined with seven assists, his 28 points and plus-8 are also best on the team, while center Radek Faksa and defenseman Ryan Murphy are tied for the team lead in assists (17).
Puempel’s eight power-play goals are among the best in the OHL.
Goaltender John Gibson is second-best in GAA in the Ontario Hockey League this season, with a 2.20 GAA in 18 games played (1,065 minutes.) He’s allowed 39 goals on 574 shots faced and holds a .932 save percentage and 12-6-0-2 record.
Meanwhile, Guelph is coming off a 3-1 loss to the London Knights on December 1. Justin Auger scored the lone goal for the Storm in the loss. The team’s last win came in a 7-5 victory over Ottawa on November 24.
Left winger Tanner Richard has just two goals on the season, but his 31 helpers are best on the team and third-best in the league. His 33 points are also a Storm best. Right winger Scott Kosmachuk has 18 goals in 29 games, and defenseman Daniel Poliziani leads the team with a plus-11.
Kosmachuk’s seven power-play goals puts him in the top 10 league-wide.
Goaltender Garret Sparks is tenth-best in the league with a 2.91 GAA in 1,568 minutes played. Sparks has allowed 76 goals on 906 shots faced and has a 15-7-0-3 record with the Storm this season.
Tonight’s game is the first of eight meetings between the Storm and the Rangers this season. They’ll meet again on January 8 and 27 before meeting three times in February and twice more in March.
Last season, Kitchener and Guelph split the season series, each taking the first games on the road and the final three on their respective home ice.