By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff
The Kitchener Rangers, battered by a string of early winter injuries for the second year in a row, host the Belleville Bulls tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The Aud.
Make sure to double check your roster card tonight, because a number of players from the junior-B Kitchener Dutchman have been called up to help fill the gaps.
KITCHENER NOTES: With injuries piling up and the world juniors around the corner, the Kitchener Rangers have again dipped into their junior-B affiliate to help bolster the roster.
Forwards Ty Learn, Keli Grant and goalie Jack Moylan were all at practice after a costly week, which saw Tobias Rieder, Justin Bailey, Eric Ming and John Gibson join top-scorer Matt Puempel on the shelf.
Even then, Kitchener — who should get forward Darby Llewellyn (concussion) back this week — managed to pull out two wins in three games, while plucking a point from Guelph in their lone loss, a 3-2 shootout defeat on Teddy Bear Toss night at The Aud.
For the record, it was Arthur’s Brent Pedersen who triggered the shower of stuffed animals — all 8,870 of them — at 6:28 of the first period.
BELLEVILLE NOTES: There are plenty of parallels between the Bulls and their hosts.
The Bulls’ Malcolm Subban is a top-five goalie in GAA and save percentage; likewise for the Rangers’ Gibson and Franky Palazzese, November’s OHL goalie of the month. Goals are also hard to come by for both teams — Belleville is No. 1 in fewest goals scored, Kitchener is No. 4 — yet find a way to win. The Bulls and Rangers both come into tonight’s game on 6-3-0-1 runs.
Meanwhile, Kitchener’s Adam Bignell is a team-high plus-seven.
POST SEZ: With their string of injuries, the Rangers will at least have a better understanding of what awaits them later this month during the world juniors.
Rieder (Germany) and Gibson (United States) were invited to their respective national team camps, while Puempel was considered a possible Team Canada invitee before injuring his shoulder. Ryan Murphy (Canada) and Radek Faksa (Czech Republic) are also competing for spots.