KITCHENER, Ont. - The Kitchener Rangers won Wednesday night's opening of the Ontario Hockey League final 5-2 over Belleville, and that was just the beginning of the damage they inflicted on the Bulls.
Belleville's OHL goalie of the year Mike Murphy got hurt in mid-game, and their No. 5 blue-liner Nick Pageau was also lost to injury. Even the Bulls bench door gave out in the third period and needed repair.
Meanwhile, top Bulls forward Shawn Matthias has yet to return from mono. The Rangers, with their speed and tenacity, caused and fed off the Bulls misery Wednesday night.
The Bulls will hope for better fortune at home with Game 2 in the best-of-seven series set for Friday night at 7:15 at Yardmen Arena.
Kitchener's Mikkel Boedker snapped a goal past the blocker of Murphy five minutes into Wednesday's opener, to the delight of the 6,471 fans at the Kitchener Auditorium.
Yannick Weber hit the post to Murphy's right three minutes later.
After that, Rangers winger Brandon Mashinter crunched Pageau with a brutal hit and the Rangers had all the early momentum.
Pageau, who recently returned from a high-ankle sprain, may have re-injured it. He didn't return to the game.
But on Belleville's first true shot of the game, P.K. Subban blasted a blue-line snapshot off of Rangers goalie Josh Unice to tie it up.
Oddly, after allowing that softy, Unice shone by making the next 15 saves as the Bulls surged.
Unice's best series of stops came as A.J. Perry, Matt Beleskey and Subban swarmed the Rangers net. Later, Geoff Killing broke in alone on Unice, who shut down Killing's five-hold bid.
The Rangers took over in the second, outshooting the Bulls 13-8 and scoring three times to make it 4-1.
First, Nazem Kadri picked off a Shawn Lalonde pass en route to a marvellous short-handed goal. Kadri undressed Bulls defender Nigel Williams and beat Murphy blocker side.
A minute later, Rangers captain Matt Pepe jumped into the rush with a five-hole goal.
With five minutes left in the period, Nick Spaling swept a power-play goal home. Murphy stretched out awkwardly along the ice in a bid to make the save and appeared to pull something. He left the game and was replaced by veteran Parker VanBuskirk.
Spaling scored again in the third.
Williams replied for Belleville.
Game 3 is Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Aud.