Kitchener Rangers win Game 7 overtime thriller, advance in OHL Playoffs

The Kitchener Rangers pulled off the upset and are onto the second round of the OHL Playoffs, after a 4-3 overtime win over the London Knights in Game 7 on Wednesday.

Rangers’ leading scorer Mike Petizian scored the overtime winner to hand Kitchener a berth to the second round. The 21-year-old is in the midst of his final year of OHL eligibility; finishing the regular season with a team-high 34 goals and 71 points, while scoring 5 goals in the opening round of the playoffs.

"Kitchener gave it their all, pulled through, and left it out on the ice," a Rangers fan at Budweiser Gardens in London told CTV News.

Petizian’s winning goal came days after his controversial goal was called back in Kitchener’s Game 5 loss, once video review deemed the puck was kicked into the net.

Pavel Cajan continued his hot goaltending streak and helped the Rangers secure a win despite being out-shot 54-29.

"They gave it their all and you get a hot goalie on the other side and that's just the way it goes," another fan at Budweiser Gardens said.

The Rangers came into the series as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. The Knights held the No. 2 seed after finishing first in the Midwest Division.

The victory marked the Rangers’ first series win over the London Knights since 2010. Both teams have met in the playoffs four times since 2012, with London winning all four meetings.

"Rangers deserved it at the end of it," a fan said. "That goalie is a stud, he's national league bound."

This is Rangers general manager Mike McKenzie’s first trip to the OHL Playoffs since filling the head coaching position in 2019.

The 36-year-old led the team to 40 wins in 2020, before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 playoffs and entire 2020-21 season.

Wednesday’s win made McKenzie the fifth head coach to lead the Rangers to a series win since the club won the OHL Championship under former head coach Peter DeBoer in 2008.

Kitchener open the second round against the No. 1 seed Windsor Spitfires on Saturday.

The two teams split the season series 4-4.

The puck drops for Games 1 and 2 in Windsor. The Rangers host Game 3 at The Aud on May 10.