Rehkopf, Rangers prevail
KITCHENER, Ont. — Carson Rehkopf scored two goals and added an assist, all in the second period, to power the Kitchener Rangers to a 5-2 victory over the North Bay Battalion in an Ontario Hockey League game Friday night.
Mitchell Martin, Tanner Lam and Cameron Mercer each provided one goal, while goaltender Jackson Parsons made 28 saves before a crowd of 6,228.
Kitchener, which lost its previous two games, including a 4-3 road setback Thursday night to the Windsor Spitfires, has a won-lost-extended record of 10-5-0 for 20 points atop the Midwest Division and Western Conference.
Ty Nelson and Carter Kostuch scored for North Bay, 6-5-4 for 16 points, third in the Central Division, two points behind the Sudbury Wolves, who defeated the visiting Niagara IceDogs 3-1.
Goaltender Mike McIvor, seeing his first action of the season, faced 29 shots as the Battalion opened a two-game road trip that ends with a 7 p.m. Saturday date with Niagara.
Kitchener, leading 4-2 after 40 minutes, scored the only goal of the third period when Mercer made contact with a puck that already was trickling across the goal line at 11:13. Hunter Brzustewicz had one of the two assists, extending his league-high points streak to 14 games.
The three-point game sent Rehkopf past defenceman Brzustewicz into first place in the OHL scoring race with 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points in 15 games.
Martin tied it 1-1 with his ninth goal of the season at 8:37 of the second period, redirecting the puck at the right side of the crease, and Lam connected from the left circle at 10:20 after a giveaway pass attempt in the corner.
Kostuch replied 56 seconds later, hoisting the puck into the top left corner of the net while falling in the goalmouth under coverage by Antonino Pugliese. Lirim Amidovski and Dylan Richter assisted on rookie Kostuch’s second goal.
Rehkopf took over for the rest of the period, converting from in front at 15:50 after Liam Arnsby was stripped of the puck in the left corner and one-timing the rubber home from the right side at 19:37 as Kitchener exerted sustained pressure.
Nelson struck first at 6:41 of the opening period for his fifth goal. Brice Cooke fed the puck to the left side to Justin Ertel on a rush, and he centred the disc to defenceman Nelson, who directed the puck home before crashing into Parsons.
Arnsby fought Matthew Andonovski at 8:32, getting the takedown against the larger opponent. Each was handed a major penalty.
The game at Niagara can be seen live in North Bay on Your TV Channels 12 and 700.
BATTALION BULLETS: The other season meeting is set Jan. 7 at North Bay … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Kitchener was 0-for-3 … Opening lines had Arnsby centring left winger Ertel and right winger Cooke, Dalyn Wakely pivoting left winger Owen Van Steensel and right winger Anthony Romani and Ethan Procyszyn centring left winger Ihnat Pazii and right winger Jacob Therrien. Richter centred left winger Kostuch and right winger Amidovski … The Battalion was without Tyson Rismond, Nolan Laird, Zach Wilson, Pasquale Zito, Stef Forgione and Dom DiVincentiis, who has an ankle injury … Charlie Robertson backed up McIvor, a fourth-rounder in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection who played two games with the Troops last season. He has been with the junior A Powassan Voodoos … Kitchener’s Jussi Ahokas is the first European head coach in OHL history. A former goaltender who coached Finland to gold in the 2019 World Junior Championship at Vancouver and Victoria, he coached the last four seasons in Finland’s Elite League … In his streak, Brzustewicz has five goals and 22 assists for 27 points. He also has a 10-game assists streak, with 17 in the span … Kitchener’s Matthew Sop saw the end of a nine-game assists streak in which he had 13 assists … Among the missing for Kitchener were Cameron Reid and Luca Romano, with Canadian entries in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I.