PLYMOUTH, Mich. - The timing of Tyler Randell's return to the Kitchener Rangers' line up couldn't have been any better.
In his first game back from a 10-game suspension, the 20-year-old forward scored four goals as Kitchener eliminated the host Plymouth Whalers 6-3 on Tuesday in Ontario Hockey League playoff action.
"He's been through a lot to get to this point and I hope tonight was a coming-out party for Ty Randell because we can see how important he is to our hockey club," said Rangers head coach Steve Spott.
The Game 7 victory means the Rangers advance to the Western Conference Championship where they will face the top-seeded London Knights.
Randell, who was credited with his first career post-season hat trick, had scored only three goals in 47 career playoff games before exploding for four in Game 7.
"We have a great group of guys and everyone gave it their all tonight," Randell said. "The adrenaline has been flying all day and it’s a great feeling knowing these guys played hard to get us to this point so I could get back out there. I really took it to heart and wanted to pay them back."
Forward Tom Wilson added two assists for Plymouth to finish the series with five goals and nine points.
Kitchener went 2 for 4 on the power play as Plymouth failed to score on their only opportunity with the man advantage.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Championship will take place on Thursday in London at the John Labatt Centre.
Randell opened the scoring for Kitchener on a power play at 10:20 of the opening period before Plymouth rookie Mistele tied the game at 12:09.
Ming scored at 17:15 to give the Rangers a one-goal lead after 20 minutes of play.
Heard made it 2-2 just 2:36 into the second period but Randell added two more goals less than three minutes apart making it 4-2 Kitchener heading into the final period.
Randell extended the lead 4:23 into the third period before Levi scored for the Whalers at 14:13.
Rieder added an empty-net goal at 18:39 to secure a victory for Kitchener.
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