Kitchener goaltender John Gibson stopped all 40 shots he faced and Tobias Rieder and Ben Thomson scored goals as the Kitchener Rangers defeated the Plymouth Whalers, 2-0, in an Ontario Hockey League playoff game played before 3,026 Friday night at .
Kitchener leads to best-four-of-seven OHL Western Conference Semifinal series, 1-game-to-0.
The game turned into a defensive, goaltending battle between John Gibson of Kitchener and Scott Wedgewood of Plymouth.
Gibson – a draft choice of the Anaheim Ducks who played for Team USA in the 2012 World Junior Championships – raised his league-leading playoff save percentage to .953 (221-for-234) while lowering his goals against average to 1.99. Gibson is 5-0 in six playoff games this season.
Wedgewood stopped 28-of-30 shots for Plymouth.
The first period was well played but scoreless. Plymouth’s Rickard Rakell rang a shot off the post in the best chance of the period.
The Whalers turned up the forecheck for much of the second period, outshooting Kitchener, 17-6, but Gibson played well and the Rangers scored the only goal of the period on a broken play and a fortuitous bounce.
With the play in the Plymouth zone, the puck bounced away from a Plymouth defender to Rieder, who scored with a shot from the left hashmark over Wedgewood's shoulder.
The Whalers seemed to gain some momentum early in the third period after killing off a 5-on-3 Kitchener power plays after penalties to Mitchell Heard at 20:00 of the second period and Dario Trutmann.at 0:15 of the third
Kitchener appeared to score at 0:26 of the period, but referees ruled that Zach Lorentz’s stick was above the cross bar in directing the puck into the goal, so the game remained, 1-0.
But Thomson scored the only goal of the third period at 9:56, redirecting Michael Catenacci's pass while on his stomach and sliding towards the Plymouth goal.
The Whalers pulled Wedgewood with 1:50 remaining in the third period, but they couldn’t score.
Plymouth outshot Kitchener, 40-30.
Here's the rest of the series:
- Game 2 - Sunday, April 8 - Plymouth at Kitchener, 7:05 p.m., Memorial Auditorium.
- Game 3 - Tuesday, April 10 - Kitchener at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Arena.
- Game 4 – Wednesday, April 11 - Plymouth at Kitchener, 7:05 p.m., Memorial Auditorium.
- (*) Game 5 - Saturday, April 14 - Kitchener at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Arena.
- (*) Game 6 - Sunday, April 15 - Plymouth at Kitchener, 7:05 p.m., Memorial Auditorium.
- (*) Game 7 - Tuesday, April 17 - Kitchener at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Arena.
- (*) if necessary.