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London Knights win ninth straight with a 5-3 victory in Mississauga

Denver Barkey’s 20th goal of the season allowed the London Knights to breathe on their way to a 5-3 win over the Steelheads in Mississauga on Jan. 6, 2023.

Barkey stole a puck while killing a penalty in the third period and raced down the ice to snap his OHL leading sixth short-handed goal past Ryerson Leenders, into the Steelheads net. The goal put the Knights back in front by two and London held on from there.

Barkey now has more short-handed goals than 13 teams in the Ontario Hockey League.

It was the Knights second win in less than 24 hours after London knocked off Barrie 6-2 on Jan. 5 at Budweiser Gardens and it moved them into a tie with the Soo Greyhounds for second overall in the OHL standings and with the evening slate still to come in the league it had the Knights just one point behind the Kitchener Rangers for first place overall.

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The first period featured seven different power plays opportunities between the teams and no power play goals.

Go figure.

The clubs exchanged even strength goals during the first 20 minutes as Sam O’Reilly scored at 5:52 on a spin-around wrist shot. O’Reilly now has points in 10 of his last 11 games.

Jack Van Volsen tied the game 1-1 as he banged in a rebound at 13:28 of the opening period.

London jumped in front just under six minutes into the second period on a dump-in by Jacob Julien that popped in the air off the end boards, hit Steelheads goaltender Ryerson Leenders and dropped into the Mississauga net.

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The Knights made it 3-1 at 10:31 of the middle period as Oliver Bonk got the puck to the Steelheads crease where Leenders was able to make a save but Easton Cowan swooped in to extend his point streak to seven games with his 14th goal of the season.

Less than 90 seconds later Ridgetown, Ont.’s Zander Vecchia tightened the score to 3-2 as zipped a Luke Misa pass past Owen Willmore and into the Knight net.

The teams traded goals once more before the end of the period as first London defenceman Sam Dickinson whacked a knuckler of a shot into the Mississauga net only to have Porter Martone respond with his 28th goal of the year for the Steelheads  with under two minutes remaining.

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Barkey’s goal was the only goal of the final 20 minutes.

Max McCue returned to the London lienup after serving a three-game suspension but the Knights were without veteran defenceman Jackson Edward (illness), Ruslan Gazizov (injury) and Michael Simpson (injury).

McCue saw his goal streak come to an end at nine games and London’s power play streak was ended at 17 consecutive games as the Steelheads went 5-for-5 on the penalty.

The Knights were 5-for-5 as well.

London outshot Mississauga 36-28 as

The rise of O’Reilly

Knights forward Sam O’Reilly and Brantford Bulldogs forward Jake O’Brien are beginning to leave everyone else behind in the rookie scoring race. O’Reilly’s 11 goals and 33 points in 37 games has him out front of O’Brien by three points. Everyone else is six or more points behind.

O’Reilly came into his first full OHL season this year after a dynamite performance with the London Nationals as a 16-year old rookie in 2022-23. O’Reilly had seven points in his first 12 games and then ten points in his next 12. He has followed that up with 17 points in 14 games in the months of December and January.

The former Vaughan King will play in the 2024 Top prospects game on Jan. 24 in Moncton, N.B., along with Knights defenceman Sam Dickinson and Londoner Jett Luchanko who is a member of the Guelph Storm.

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Head east young men

Two trades that were completed on Saturday in the Ontario Hockey League strengthened teams in the Eastern Conference. First the Sarnia Sting sent the trip of Sandis Vilmanis, Jacob LeBlanc and Andrew LeBlance to the North Bay Battalion for 16-year old forward Carter Kostuch, 18-year old defenceman Alex Cajkovic, a 2nd round pick, a 3rd round pick, two 4th round picks and two 5th round picks.

Later in the day the Flint Firebirds traded overage forward and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Braeden Kressler, a 3rd round pick and a 10th rounder to the Ottawa 67’s for a 2nd rounder, three 3rd round picks and a 9th round draft pick.

North Bay currently sits fourth overall in the Eastern Conference and the 67’s are fifth overall.

Up next

The Knights and Sting will meet for the fifth time this season on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. at Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont.

A win or a point would clinch the 402 Rivalry Series for London for the second year in a row.

Coverage will start at 6:30 p.m., on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

 

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