The Kitchener Rangers are a major junior ice hockey team based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Midwest Division of the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League. The Rangers are a publicly owned hockey team, governed by a 39-person Board of Directors made up entirely of season ticket subscribers. They are one of the most successful Canadian Hockey League teams in terms of alumni with over 180 players and coaches going on to serve in the NHL, including Mike Richards, Dale Hunter, David Clarkson, Steve Mason, Derek Roy, Steve Downie, 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, 2012 Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog, and Hockey Hall of Fame members Scott Stevens, Bill Barber, Paul Coffey, Larry Robinson and Al MacInnis.
|League||Ontario Hockey League|
|Home arena||Kitchener Memorial
|Colours||Blue, red, white
|General manager||Mike McKenzie|
|Head coach||Jay McKee|
|Affiliate(s)||Kitchener Dutchmen Georgetown Raiders|
|1947–1960||Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters|
The Kitchener Rangers franchise was inaugurated ahead of the 1947–48 Ontario Hockey Association season as the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters. Based in nearby Guelph, Ontario, the Biltmore Mad Hatters were a farm team for the National Hockey League's New York Rangers. The team enjoyed considerable success in the 1950s, winning three league championships and a Memorial Cup. However, by 1960, the team was struggling financially and was sold to new ownership. The new owners re-branded the team as the Guelph Royals to match Guelph's nickname, the "Royal City". Despite these efforts to reignite the fading brand, the team's financial struggles persisted. At the end of the 1962–63 season, Kitchener entrepreneur Eugene George was approached by the New York Rangers about moving the team to Kitchener in hopes of building a more stable junior environment.
For the start of the 1963–64 season, the team moved into the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, which had previously been home to the Kitchener Greenshirts and the Kitchener Canucks. The Rangers were successful promoting the team in the community, drawing high attendance despite a poor first season. By 1968 the Rangers had one first-place finish to their credit and had reached the league finals twice.
When the National Hockey League collectively ended sponsorship of junior teams, the New York Rangers then offered the team to Eugene George for $1.00, a token receipt to assume the financial and overall responsibility of the team from then on. There is no truth to the urban legend that the New York Rangers could re-acquire the team at any time for $1.00.
George, realizing the community importance of the Kitchener Rangers, instead turned the team over to the community; in essence, to its season ticket subscribers. The Rangers became a "publicly" owned team in that each season ticket holder is a Member of the not-for-profit corporation which owns the team and all its assets.
It is often said, incorrectly, that the team is "community owned".
George and colleagues strategically set up a volunteer Directorship, which included key Executives, which still holds true today (elected from among all eligible season ticket subscribers). The Rangers are backboned today by their unique strategy; a 40-person Board of Directors to which 9 Executive positions are elected as key duties including Finances, Policies, Charities, and a Hockey Committee among others.
The Rangers struggled their first three season in the OHA, but finished strong in 1966 despite a 7th place 16–23–9 record. The Rangers won the first two playoff rounds to make it to the OHA finals, but lost 4 games to 1, to the Oshawa Generals, featuring a young Bobby Orr. Kitchener finished in 1st place the next season, but fell to the Hamilton Red Wings in the playoffs. In 1968 the Rangers were first again in the OHA, and won their second consecutive Hamilton Spectator Trophy. Kitchener played in the finals again, losing a very close series 4 games to 3 with a tie, to the eventual Memorial Cup Champions Niagara Falls Flyers.
Kitchener struggled through the decade, posting only two winning seasons. In 1973–74, the Rangers finish 1st in the OHA due to the stellar goalkeeping of Don Edwards, with the league lowest goals against average. Kitchener however lost in the semi-finals in the playoffs. Dwight Foster set the Rangers franchise record for points in a highest during the high scoring late 1970s. Foster scored 60 goals and 83 assists totalling 143 points to be the scoring champion.
The Rangers coached by Orval Tessier finished first place in a highly contested Emms division, despite winning only half its games. The team made a remarkable turnaround from its previous dismal season. The 1981 Rangers were led by 16-year-old captain Brian Bellows, and also featured Al MacInnis, Mike Eagles, Larry Carroll and goalie Wendell Young.
Kitchener caught fire in the playoffs eliminating the Niagara Falls Flyers and the Windsor Spitfires in the Emms division playoffs, then eliminated the highly favoured Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the league finals, who finished 27 points ahead of Kitchener.
Tessier returned to the Memorial Cup for the fourth time, after playing for the 1953 Barrie Flyers, and coaching the 1972 Cornwall Royals and 1973 Quebec Remparts. Kitchener faced off against the Victoria Cougars and the defending champions, the Cornwall Royals, in the Memorial Cup played in Windsor, Ontario, and the Windsor Arena.
Kitchener lost the first two games 6–3 to Cornwall, and 7–4 to Victoria. The Rangers then posted consecutive victories, 6–4 over the Royals in which Bellows scored a hat trick, and 4–2 over the Cougars. In the finals versus Cornwall, the Rangers fell 5–2 to the Royals who would win their second consecutive Memorial Cup title. The 1981 playoffs were a breakthrough for Kitchener, who would be one of the best teams in the OHL during the 1980s.
Joe Crozier took over the coaching duties after 1981, and Kitchener picked up on the winning note from the previous season led by top players Larry Carroll, Brian Bellows and Jeff Larmer. The Rangers won the Emms division again with a much improved record and many players returning, and also added future NHL players Scott Stevens and Mike Hough.
Kitchener earned a first round bye, then eliminated the Windsor Spitfires and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the second year in a row in the Emms division playoffs. The Rangers then faced off against the Ottawa 67's coached by Brian Kilrea in the finals, winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup 9 points to 1. Kitchener faced the Portland Winter Hawks and the Sherbrooke Castors in the Memorial Cup series played at the Robert Guertin Arena in Hull, Quebec.
Kitchener received a sobering 10–4 loss in game one at the hands of Sherbrooke. The Rangers played much better in game two, defeating Portland 9–2. Brian Bellows scored 11 seconds into the game, setting a Memorial Cup record. In their third game, the Rangers shut out the Castors 4–0, atoning for the previous lopsided loss in game one. The game was very physical, and included a bench-clearing brawl in the second period. Kitchener seemed to be a bit worn out the next night, losing 4–2 to Portland.
The Rangers and the Castors made it to the finals on a better goals for and against total, after all three teams won and lost two games each in the round-robin. The final game drew 4091 spectators who saw Bellows score a hat trick, leading the Rangers to a 7–4 victory, winning its first Memorial Cup.
Kitchener finished a strong second place in the Emms division after winning the Cup the year before. Kitchener fell in the third round of the playoffs, in the division finals to their rivals, S.S.Marie Greyhounds 8 points to 2. The strong showing of the Rangers over the last three seasons earned Kitchener the right to host the Memorial Cup in 1984.
Tom Barrett took over coaching duties in 1983. Kitchener posted the best record in the OHL in 1983–84 with 106 points, proving without a doubt they were worthy being chosen to host the Memorial Cup tournament. The Rangers were led by John Tucker as the OHL's most outstanding player, Wayne Presley as the top scoring right winger, and Shawn Burr was the rookie of the year.
Kitchener earned its 3rd straight first round bye, before sweeping the London Knights in the second round. The Rangers avenged last season's loss versus Sault Ste. Marie winning the series 8 points to 6. Kitchener faced the Ottawa 67's in a rematch of the 1982 OHL finals. The Rangers were unable to pull out the victory, losing the series 8 points to 2. The Rangers and 67's would both play in the Memorial Cup, as well as the Kamloops Junior Oilers and the Laval Voisins featuring Mario Lemieux.
Kitchener defeated Laval 8–2 in game one, holding Lemieux scoreless. In game two, Kitchener had an 8–0 lead over Kamloops but narrowly held on to win the game 9–7. Ottawa had also won its first two games. The two teams met in the final game of the round robin, with Kitchener posting a 7–2 victory, to earn a berth in the finals. Ottawa won 7–2 in the semi-finals, then won 7–2 again in a rematch versus Kitchener in the finals.
The loss marked the end of the Rangers four-year run at success. Kitchener would rebuild for four seasons, before winning the Emms division regular season title in the 1988–89 season, in which Gus Morschauser was the OHL Goaltender of the Year. Kitchener was upset in the first round of the playoffs by the North Bay Centennials.
The 1989–90 Rangers finished second overall in the Emms division, but used their experience to prevail through the playoffs. Kitchener avenged the previous season's loss to North Bay, and earned the second round bye. The Rangers defeated the Niagara Falls Thunder team in the semi-finals, setting up a series against the Leyden division champion Oshawa Generals featuring Eric Lindros in the finals.
Both the Rangers and the Generals were assured a spot in the Memorial Cup as OHL finalists in 1990. The tournament was originally chosen to be hosted by the Dukes of Hamilton at Copps Coliseum before the season started, but when the Dukes finished last overall that season, the OHL chose to send both league finalists instead. The OHL championship series was a very close affair, but Kitchener lost in the seventh game in Oshawa. Kitchener would face off against Oshawa in the 1990 Memorial Cup, and also rematch against their opponents in the 1984 tournament, both of whom had new names, the Kamloops Junior Oilers were now the Kamloops Blazers, and the Laval Voisins were now the Laval Titan.
The 1990 Memorial Cup tournament opened up on May 5, 1990, with Kitchener facing the Kamloops Blazers. The rematch from six years ago was also a very high scoring game with a back-and-forth score in regulation, with Kitchener winning 8–7 in overtime. In their second game, the fourth game of the tournament, Kitchener beat Laval 5–3.
Similar to 1984, both Ontario-based team were undefeated after two games, and faced each other in the last game of the round-robin. The game was played in front of 11,134 fans, lasting 4 hours 15 minutes into double overtime, with Oshawa winning 5–4. Kitchener then played Laval in the semi-finals. It was a very close game throughout, with Kitchener pulling out a 5–4 victory.
The Rangers played the Generals in the finals, with 17, 383 fans in attendance. Much like the first game between the two teams, the championship went into double overtime. Kitchener lost again to Oshawa, 4–3.
The remainder of the decade was lacklustre for Kitchener. The team managed three winning seasons with their best season coming in 1997. Kitchener reached the third round, but lost to a familiar foe in six games to Oshawa. 1997 was also the only season in the 90s when the Rangers won their division. This feat was accomplished during the last game of the season, a 2–2 tie against the Guelph Storm, who could have overtaken the Rangers with a win. Rookie netminder Shawn Degagne had the league's best goals-against average for a freshman that season.
The Rangers have had great success at the turnstiles, and are an OHL attendance leader. The team attracted a record 162,000-plus fans in 1999–2000, an average of 4,750 per game. In 2001, Peter DeBoer came over from successful years with the Plymouth Whalers to be the coach and general manager of Kitchener.
In 2002–03 the Rangers were first place overall in the OHL, being the only team with 100 points and winning the Hamilton Spectator Trophy. Kitchener was also one of the top-ranked teams in the country. The team featured seven future NHL players, forwards Mike Richards, Petr Kanko, Gregory Campbell, David Clarkson, captain Derek Roy and defencemen Andre Benoit and Steve Eminger, who had been returned from the NHL's Washington Capitals mid-season.
The Rangers defeated S.S.Marie, Guelph and Plymouth in the western conference playoffs, then beat the Ottawa 67's in 5 games to win its third J. Ross Robertson cup, after waiting 21 years from its last. Derek Roy was named the MVP of the playoffs.
The 2003 Memorial Cup was hosted in the Quebec City at the Colisée de Québec. Kitchener faced off versus the host Quebec Remparts, QMJHL champions Hull Olympiques, and the Kelowna Rockets from the WHL.
Kitchener went through the round-robin undefeated, beating the Remparts 4–3 in game one, the Olympiques 4–1 in game two, and the Rockets 4–2 in game three. On Sunday, May 25, 2003, the Rangers won their second Memorial Cup title, defeating Hull 6–3.
Steve Bienkowski, the Rangers president & governor was the OHL Executive of the Year for the 2002–03 season.
Since 2003, the Rangers have been competitive every year. In May 2007 it was announced that the Rangers would host the 2008 Memorial Cup, giving the team an automatic entry into the tournament.
After finishing 1st in the league in the 2007–08 season, the Rangers went on to win the OHL Championship against the Belleville Bulls. Since the Rangers were also the host team, the Bulls competed as the OHL Champions, and the Rangers played as the host team.
In 2007–08 the Rangers were first place overall in the OHL, being the only team with greater than 100 points and winning the Hamilton Spectator Trophy.
The Rangers defeated Plymouth, Sarnia and Sault Ste. Marie in the western conference playoffs, then beat the Belleville Bulls in 7 games to win its fourth J. Ross Robertson cup.
Kitchener went through the round-robin with a 1 and 2 record, defeating Gatineau 6–5 (OT), losing to Spokane 1–2, and losing to Belleville 3–4 (OT). In the semi-final, Kitchener defeated Belleville 9–0, earning a place to play Spokane for the Memorial Cup. Kitchener lost to Spokane, 4–1, in front of 6,807 fans.
On October 30, 2009, defenceman Ben Fanelli received a check from Erie Otters forward Michael Liambas. As Liambas checked Fanelli into the boards behind the Rangers net, Fanelli's head hit a metal partition in the glass, breaking and knocking off his helmet. Fanelli lay unconscious while twitching and foaming at the mouth before being rushed to hospital in critical condition with skull and orbital bone fractures. Liambas was in tears on the ice reportedly after the incident and attempted to visit Fanelli in hospital, but was denied access. Fanelli was released from Hamilton General Hospital a week later on November 6.
Liambas was suspended for the remainder of the season and the playoffs by OHL commissioner David Branch, who cited the speed and distance to which Liambas skated to deliver the check, as well as the severity of Fanelli's injuries. He commented that the suspension was responding to a "need to take strong steps to ... send out the message to all our players and minor hockey players that we have to be ... more respectful of our opponent." Otters general manager Sherwood Bassin was quick to come to Liambas' defense following the suspension, expressing surprise at the severity of the penalty from Branch. Bassin asserted that Liambas was not simply a "goofball kid", citing his 95 percent average in high school, as well as volunteer work in initiating a stay-in-school program for kids and at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie. Liambas expressed regret during the hearing for his hit and commented that he did not know if he could deliver bodychecks anymore as a hockey player.
Fanelli returned to the Rangers nearly two years later, recovering from a brain injury to rejoin his old squad in September 2011.
In March, 2011, Fanelli began a charity which he called "Head Strong." It is based on Lance Armstrong's "Livestrong" campaign and raises awareness regarding brain injuries both in and outside of sport. As well, Head Strong looks to raise funds for the Brain Injury Association of Canada. Fanelli began selling T-shirts after the launch of Head Strong. He is also selling bracelets beginning on November 16, 2012.
In May, 2015, Fanelli had a tryout to become an OHL referee. The OHL confirmed in June, 2015, that Fanelli had quit officiating to pursue other opportunities.
The Kitchener Rangers have appeared in the Memorial Cup tournament six times, winning twice. Kitchener has also won the J. Ross Robertson Cup four times, won the Hamilton Spectator Trophy seven times, and have won seven division titles.
Two Kitchener Rangers coaches have won the Matt Leyden Trophy as the OHL Coach of the Year; Tom Barrett in 1983–84, and Joe McDonnell in 1988–89. Joe McDonnell was also voted the Canadian Hockey League Coach of the Year in the 1988–89 season.
List of coaches with multiple seasons in parentheses.
The Rangers do not retire numbers (except for #1 which is dedicated to the fans) but choose to honour numbers instead; hanging banners from the rafters while still having them in use for present players. Honoured numbers include:
The Rangers have 145 alumni who have played in the National Hockey League. Five alumni have been elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Bill Barber, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Larry Robinson and Scott Stevens.
Last updated September 18, 2013
Updated as of January 10, 2018
|#||Nat||Name||Pos||Date of Birth||Acquired||NHL Rights||Birthplace|
|4||Gareffa, JosephJoseph Gareffa||RW||August 9, 1999||2015 OHL Priority Selection||Undrafted||Toronto, Ontario|
|5||Gentles, KyleKyle Gentles||D||May 30, 1998||Free Agent, 2016||Undrafted||Ajax, Ontario|
|7||Hall, ConnorConnor Hall||D||February 21, 1998||2014 OHL Priority Selection||PIT, 2016||Cambridge, Ontario|
|9||York, JackJack York||D||September 17, 2000||2016 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2019||Kanata, Ontario|
|11||Vallati, GiovanniGiovanni Vallati||D||February 21, 2000||2016 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2018||Ottawa, Ontario|
|13||Damiani, RileyRiley Damiani||C||March 20, 2000||2016 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2018||Mississauga, Ontario|
|14||Liska, AdamAdam Liska||C||October 14, 1999||2017 CHL Import Draft||Eligible in 2018||Bratislava, Slovakia|
|17||Petizian, MikeMike Petizian||LW||February 20, 2001||2017 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2019||Mississauga, Ontario|
|19||Brown, LoganLogan Brown||C||March 5, 1998||Trade with WSR, 2018||OTT, 2016||Raleigh, North Carolina|
|20||Stanley, LoganLogan Stanley||D||May 26, 1998||Trade with WSR, 2017||WPG, 2016||Waterloo, Ontario|
|21||McHugh, NickNick McHugh||LW||February 13, 1999||2015 OHL Priority Selection||Undrafted||Gloucester, Ontario|
|23||Mascherin, AdamAdam Mascherin||LW||June 6, 1998||2014 OHL Priority Selection||FLA, 2016||Maple, Ontario|
|25||Peterson, AlexAlex Peterson||D||May 26, 1999||2015 OHL Priority Selection||Undrafted||Kenora, Ontario|
|32||Culina, MarioMario Culina||G||June 12, 1997||Trade with SBY, 2018||Undrafted||Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario|
|34||Richardson, LukeLuke Richardson||G||May 28, 1999||2015 OHL Priority Selection||Undrafted||Barrie, Ontario|
|35||McGonigle, ChrisChris McGonigle||G||September 18, 1998||Free Agent, 2016||Undrafted||Belmont, Ontario|
|51||Vukojevic, MichaelMichael Vukojevic||D||June 8, 2001||2017 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2019||Oakville, Ontario|
|52||McEnemy, AustinAustin McEnemy||D||April 10, 1997||Trade with WSR, 2018||Undrafted||Waterdown, Ontario|
|54||Smith, GivaniGivani Smith||RW||February 27, 1998||Trade with GUE, 2018||DET, 2016||Toronto, Ontario|
|72||Gordon, MattMatt Gordon||C||February 27, 2001||2017 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2019||Guelph, Ontario|
|74||Bunnaman, ConnorConnor Bunnaman (C)||C||April 16, 1998||2014 OHL Priority Selection||PHI, 2016||Guelph, Ontario|
|88||Meireles, GregGreg Meireles||RW||January 1, 1999||2015 OHL Priority Selection||Undrafted||Ottawa, Ontario|
|89||Guest, EricEric Guest||C||April 25, 2000||2016 OHL Priority Selection||Eligible in 2018||Kilworth, Ontario|
|92||Sherwood, KoleKole Sherwood||RW||January 22, 1997||Trade with FLI, 2017||CBJ, 2015 [Free Agent]||New Albany, Ohio|
|93||Yantsis, JonathanJonathan Yantsis||RW||April 28, 1999||Free Agent, 2017||Undrafted||Markham, Ontario|
|96||Hugg, RickardRickard Hugg||C||January 18, 1999||2017 CHL Import Draft||Undrafted||Hudiksvall, Sweden|
|Team records for a single season|
|Most goals for||418||1983–84|
|Least goals for||142||1963–64|
|Least goals against||164||1966–67|
|Most goals against||425||1979–80|
|Individual player records for a single season|
|Most goals||Wayne Presley||63||1983–84|
|Most assists||Jason Akeson||84||2010–11|
|Most points||Dwight Foster||143||1976–77|
|Most points, rookie||Brian Bellows||116||1980–81|
|Most points, defenseman||Jason Gladney||92||1993–94|
|Best GAA, goalie||Dan Turple||2.25||2005–06|
|Goalies = minimum 1500 minutes played|
Legend: OTL = Overtime loss, SL = Shootout loss
When the Rangers first appeared in Kitchener, their sweater design mimicked their NHL sponsor, the New York Rangers, with the Ranger letters set diagonally across the sweater. The Kitchener Rangers colours have always been blue, red and white.
In 1992 the Rangers incorporated a character into their uniform to boost souvenir sales. The initial design had a Texas Ranger riding a horse. In all the logo went through 3 designs for their regular jerseys involving Tex first displaying Tex riding the horse in a circular logo, then altering the circular logo into a shield and then finally removing the horse. Tex was also featured on the Rangers' third jersey in the late 1990s, with a revised-looking Tex face with a menacing look and prominent grey moustache with a western-style star behind it. The jersey actually prompted a re-model of the tex mascot from a round happy tex, to a new "Tex" with more attitude, that mascot is still in use today, though the jersey was informally retired.
For the 2000–01 OHL season the Rangers reverted to their classic style New York Rangers sweaters. The Rangers wore a third jersey from 2005–07.  It displayed horizontal red and blue bars on a white background with the Rangers shield shoulder patches. In 2010, a new third jersey was unveiled. The jersey was influenced by the Rangers' 2008 Commemorative Memorial Cup jersey with the same soldier crest. It has a red background and the Rangers' logo on blue shoulders.
The Kitchener Rangers play home games at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex. The Auditorium was built in 1951 and underwent major renovations in 2002. In 2007/2008 over 500 seats were added to accommodate larger crowds for the 2008 Memorial Cup. Over the 2012 off season the Aud was once again expanded with the addition of close to 1000 seats, as well as an upper concourse, and improvement to team dressing rooms and offices The Complex includes Centennial Stadium for football (demolished spring 2013, due to safety concerns), Jack Couch Park for baseball, the Kiwanis and Kinsmen arenas and the main Auditorium arena known as the Dom Cardillo arena.