The hockey season continues for three London Knights
Three London Knights will not be putting their equipment away anytime soon.
Not so fresh off two gruelling seven-game OHL playoff series, Victor Mete, Janne Kuokkanen and Tyler Parsons have moved onto the American Hockey League for the Calder Cup playoffs.
All three are just weeks removed from signing their first NHL entry-level contracts.
Mete was the first to get the call. The Montreal Canadiens have assigned him to the St. John’s IceCaps. Mete is only 18 and is expected back with the Knights for a final season next year that should include a key role on Team Canada’s blue line at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo.
Mete has attended Canada’s final selection camp twice.
The Canadiens’ fourth-round pick in 2016 had his season interrupted in January after he took a deflected puck off the side of his head, and missed a little over a month.
Mete ended the season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He was also a plus-36.
When the Woodbridge, Ont., native entered the Ontario Hockey League as a 16-year old, he instantly became one of the league’s best skaters. Mete is the sort of player who can lead a rush up the ice, create a scoring chance and then be back in time to break up a rush at his own blue line, going the other way.
He has taken on challenges from the start, going head-to-head with Connor McDavid in the playoffs in his rookie season. Now Mete hopes to get a chance to prove what he can do at the next level with St. John’s, who had the second-lowest point total of any playoff team this season.
Kuokkanen learned all about the NHL watching highlights on Finnish television at a very young age. He can’t really remember how old he was when he was able to watch a game in its entirety, but it didn’t matter. He was hooked.
Kuokkanen’s dream was then and still is, to play in the National Hockey League. He was raised in the Karpat system and was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft last June.
The London Knights selected him four days later in the CHL Import Draft and Kuokkanen was on his way from Oulunsalo to Ontario by the end of the summer.
Kuokkanen’s year in the OHL was highlighted by a tremendous start and an exceptional post-season.
He had 32 points in his first 21 games and then led the Knights with 10 goals and 16 points in the two playoff series they played, coming up huge. Like Mete and Parsons, Kuokkanen signed his first contract right before the start of the post-season. Sometimes, that makes a player’s mind wander. Kuokkanen just became more focused. He combined with Robert Thomas and Mitchell Stephens on London’s most potent offensive trio. They scored virtually all of the Knights’ big goals in the second round against Erie.
That series ended in overtime in Game 7 after Kuokkanen helped to set up a game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation and nearly won the game and the series for London on a 2-on-1 not long before the game winner went in.
Now the playoffs begin again for Kuokkanen in Charlotte, the city where 2017-18 may very well begin for him next year.
Parsons could have won an OHL Championship this spring and somehow, it would have paled in comparison to the rest of his Ontario Hockey League career.
He will be remembered as one of the best junior goalies ever. And he was a free-agent signing by the Knights.
Parsons could still technically return for an overage year, but realistically, that has almost no chance of happening.
He owns a Memorial Cup ring. He owns a World Junior gold medal.
He led the OHL in save percentage this season, despite battling through two separate injuries and a bout with the flu that cost him two starts.
READ MORE: Tyler Parsons: From a spark to a flame
Parsons is a second-round pick of the Calgary Flames who performed so well in training camp that the team gave him his first taste of the National Hockey League in the third period of a pre-season game against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Chesterfield, Mich., native is headed west to join the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, who meet the San Diego Gulls in round one of the Calder Cup playoffs.
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