Goaltender Spencer Martin was outstanding in the season opener, and will need to keep the offence-starved Steelheads in games this year

Kitchener spoils Mississauga Steelheads’ debut

Rangers goaltender John Gibson leads the way

MISSISSAUGA — Radek Faksa scored midway through the second period and goaltender John Gibson did the rest as the Kitchener Rangers defeated the newly renamed Mississauga Steelheads 3-0 on Friday at the Hershey Centre.

It was the first game of the season for both teams, and it showed in a sloppy, highly defensive affair.

The only players on the ice that came out sharply were the goaltenders as Kitchener’s Gibson, and Mississauga’s Spencer Martin dueled from the opening face-off.

Sloppy puck movement from the defenders created opportunities, but the two netminders seemed unbeatable.

A two-on-one at 12:12 of the first period forced a brilliant split save out of Martin off the stick of Tobias Rieder, Gibson responded by stopping Andres Kopstals point-blank just over a minute into the second.

Radek Faksa finally gave the Rangers the lead 12:16 into the middle period on a four-on-three when the Dallas Stars first rounder banged in a rebound right in front of Martin after a heavy slap shot from Evan McEneny.

Gibson stoned Riley Brace with 2:46 left in the second, as it appeared that Mississauga’s leading scorer from last year had an open net and the puck at the side.

Kitchener’s big Anaheim prospect dove across and took the sure goal away with his blocker.

Off-season acquisition Matthew Puempel found himself one-on-one with Martin nine minutes into the third, but his wrist shot aimed at the five-hole was well steered aside by Mississauga’s sophomore starter.

Faksa fed Matia Marcantuoni for another one-timer on a shorthanded two-on-one with four minutes to go in regulation, forcing Martin to make another sensational left-pad save.

Puempel and Faksa added empty-netters to pad the score-line.