New Team, New Mindset: What to expect from the 2015/2016 Kitchener Rangers


As we quickly approach the 2015/2016 season, many questions remain unanswered as the season is just before us. Excited Ranger fans have had their countdowns on since March and we are just about three days away from the beginning of exhibition hockey. 21 days away from the home opener to be exact. Many questions loom surrounding different players and situations. One thing we can promise to see this year, as we do every year, is a “never quit” team who will always show effort to their fans and give us some riveting hockey to watch. Wherever they go our loyal fans will follow them- showing support like no other team in the Canadian Hockey League. This makes for a fun year, an exciting post season, and a great town that our players love to play in. Here is a quick look at our 2015/2016 players and what to expect for the next 7 months from our boys in blue.

Tough Losses:

  • Liam Maaskant: a veteran defenceman of the 2014/2015 season. Has moved on to pursue his dream of getting a great education under his belt. He will be missed for his offensive confidence and poise. He displayed great skating ability and an above average sense to jump into the rush (not to mention a toothy grin that can be seen from a mile away). We will miss his character, toughness and grit on the blueline in the 2015/2016 season.
  • Max Iafrate: Although his antics sometimes got old with many ranger fans, he was a fun player to watch and had a heavy shot that he inherited from his father. Great skating abilities and never afraid to be as offensive as he seemed fit. He displayed a toughness on the ice that opponents hated playing against. His offensive talent and willingness to do anything for his teammates will be missed this upcoming season. He has definitely not given up his dream to be a professional hockey player, signing a contract this off season with the Providence Bruins in the AHL (five years later, have we ever seen a smile?).
  • Jake Paterson: a veteran goaltender of the OHL, he had a way of relaxing his teammates in any situation. He was highly trusted by teammates and was one of the most elite talents we have ever seen in this hockey club. He made saves a fan would only dream of, and he gave us a very entertaining game to watch. His overall calmness and patience in net was what he was known for and for that, he will be missed.

“Key Additions”:

  • Joseph Garreffa: A centre from Toronto, will be counted on for his speed and agility. Tallied 39 points in 32 GP for the Toronto Titans. Coming in at 5’5 156 pounds, it’s a little scary to think he will be playing against players in the league well over 6 feet. One of the smallest players the Rangers have seen since Mike Catenacci. This 16 year old is expected to have a great season and an awesome addition to the future.
  • Brian Brosnan: The closest we will have to Liam Maaskant and Max Iafrate. At 6’3 211 pounds, Brian will be counted on for his big bodied presence and experience in the league. Acquired from the Niagara IceDogs, he had 12 points in 53 GP last year. He is twenty years old and will set a great examples for the younger guys on the team with his “defense first” mindset.
  • Elijah Roberts: Played last year with the Toronto Marlboros, he displayed 33 points in 54 GP. Generates offense and is known as an offensive defenseman. Standing at 5’7 158 pounds, he will have to try extra hard against tougher and larger opponents. (Sound familiar???) Similar style of play to a fan favourite for many years to come, Ryan Murphy.
  • Jake Henderson: Saint Louis, Missouri native. This right winger will be counted on for his size up front, comes in at 6’2 203 pounds. 18 years old and is one of the older guys on the team. Had 20 points last year with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL. Displays a great mental toughness and good skating ability.
  • Luke Opilka: Our new goalie this year, coming in with a positive mindset and wanting to prove himself. Also from Saint Louis, this American goaltender will be counted on this year for his poise in net at key moments. There is indeed room for improvement- he recorded a 3.01 GAA and a .818 SV% this year at U18 for Team USA. Drafted in the fifth round in 2015 by the Saint Louis Blues, #146 overall. Luke is a great addition down the road.

“The Core Forwards”:

  • Gustaf Franzen: a fan favourite from Sweden. He will be counted on for his above average vision of the ice. One of the smaller forwards this year, he displays shifty skating ability and great puck movement/ protection. Gustaf is coming off a 34 point season in 2014/2015, in 65 GP.
  • Mason Kohn: Never quite found his groove last year. Expect Mason to come back with a vengeance this year, he has a lot to prove to many people and most importantly himself. Many teammates describe him as the heart and soul of the team, and provides a lot of spark when times are tough. Expect to see Mason on the penalty kill. He is most likely to be in the corners, and is very hard to knock off the puck. Expect a big season from him, fingers crossed he stays injury clear.
  • Brandon Robinson: Recently coming off a hip surgery in the off season. He is expected to return mid-October. He is one of the most key pieces this season for the Kitchener Rangers. He displays a skill and a mental toughness of a true veteran. He is coming off a record season last year, tallying 54 points in 62 GP.
  • Nick Magyar: a fan favourite in Kitchener. This avalanche prospect has had plenty of experience at NHL camp. He is known for his wrist shot and his puck protection skills. Expect an explosive season from Nick, as he is expected to be a front runner this season for the scoring title. Ranger fans love his ability to get into the open areas and take control.
  • Adam Mascherin: his small frame does not stop him from anything. He displays an elite level shot and is the hardest to knock off the puck. As we saw from Adam last year, he gained more confidence as the season went on, and the more ice time he received. He recorded 29 points last season with the Rangers. His hockey sense will be appreciated up front this season. An exciting player to watch.
  • Darby Llewellyn: the most talented shorthanded player on this year’s team. He is known best for scoring key goals at key times. That being said, he is definitely subject of trade rumours this upcoming season. Regardless of what happens, he had a big season last year and recorded 41 points in 68 GP. Darby is a big player in the shootout and as mentioned, shorthanded. Very talented on breakaways. Can find open areas easily.
  • David Miller: a small but mighty player. Known as the “playmaker”. Acquired in a trade last year from the 2014/2015 cup contending Soo Greyhounds. Has lots of experience in different moments, but must improve in his +/- this year. He finished last season at -10. He is known for his elite level passing and quick feet.
  • Ryan Macinnis: Son of NHL great Al Macinnis, is subject to a lot of hype. Is a big bodied centreman and not afraid to hit when needed. Debatably the most offensive talent on this team. Lots of room for improvement though, would like to see Ryan improve on his skating and puck movement compared to last year. Hopefully will improve with lots of ice time this year. Coming off a very successful season, 62 points in 67 GP. His offensive mind will be appreciated in big moments this year.
  • Connor Bunnaman: great rookie year last year. Known for always being in the right spot at the perfect moment. Very exciting to watch. Although only recording 15 points in 67 GP last year, his effort every night is always there and will always give 100%. Connor is known for his strength and size.

The Defensive Core

  • Brian Brosnan: as previously mentioned, will be a veteran presence in replacement of Max Iafrate and Liam Maaskant. Hopefully will see improvement this year with the Rangers. Would love to see him find his groove this year as a top defenceman in the OHL.
  • Frank Hora: reads the ice very well and not afraid to jump into the rush. Learns from mistakes and keeps it simple. He will be counted on this year for his leadership among teammates. Frank is a defensive minded player who has great passing ability.
  • Doug Blaisdell: Has added a lot of size this year. His positive attitude and confidence on the ice will be needed this year among the rookies on the team. Always count on Doug to give 100%, no matter the score or situation. Learned from key veterans last year.
  • Dylan DiPerna: Dylan struggled last year with his on ice confidence and never quite found his comfortable spot in the lineup. Displays a great shot and vision, although needs to improve on decision making and his skating. He is an effective 2 way defenseman, but this year needs to keep his nerves in check in key moments. Dylan will be counted on as a defensive staple this season.
  • Dmitrii Sergeev: has adjusted well to the North American style of play. From Russia, he loves to jump into the play and play his style of game. Displays a great confidence on the powerplay and has a heavy shot. His decision making this year will be counted on in key situations.


  • Dawson Carty: a clear front runner for the starting position this year. Was a backup to Jake Paterson in the 2014/2015 season. He displays great patience in net and eases his teammates in tricky situations. This being said, he needs to come up bigger in pivotal moments. Dawson will be counted on this year in net to display solid goaltending abilities and live up to the hype that has been created by fans and coaching staff.
  • Luke Opilka: Another player from Saint Louis. Coming in wanting to prove himself to the coaching staff, fans, and more importantly himself. Had a somewhat disappointing U18 for Team USA. He performed in the tournament in a couple games, ending with a .818 SV% and a 3.01 GAA. A talented goaltender who will be counted on not only this year but in the future years.

“The Question Marks”:

  • Jacob Cascagnette: Gave it all he had last year. Did not get much ice time. Lays some of the most exciting hits you will ever see. Only tallied 1 point in 33 GP last year. Hoping that Jacob will get his chance with more ice time and will find his groove on the third or fourth line.
  • Mike Davies: never quite fit in last year on any line. Hopefully can find his fit this year. Mike needed to improve on his skating and passing in the off season. He displays a great shot, and gives 100% effort night in and night out. Will be interesting to see if he eventually finds his correct spot on this years roster.
  • Mark Bzowey: one of the feistiest hearts on the team. Is not afraid of any component. Is known for his quick feet and his ability with puck protection. Did not receive a lot of ice time last year. Would like to see Mark improve on his personal gameplay                                                                                       this year and finding the open ice.
  • Brandon Robinson: the offensive talent is definitely there. It is always tough coming off an injury, let alone hip surgery in the off season. Brandon will need to find his groove quickly with new players and hopefully he will perform at top level come October when he returns to the lineup.

Kitchener Rangers hockey has been a staple in this town for more than 50 years. Regardless of the outcome, know that your local Kitchener Rangers will give it their all this season and maybe even have better luck in the post season this year. We have a talented young group, whose “never quit” attitude will be counted on by a new era of coaches, fans, and teammates. Hockey is a tough sport, but the Kitchener Rangers are entering a “new age” mindset and regardless we will have great hockey to watch for the next seven months. As for you ranger fans, keep on cheering for our boys at home and on the road! Let’s prove once again that we do indeed have the best fanbase in the CHL. Go Rangers Go!