London Knights battle back from 3-0 deficit in Erie but lose in shootout for 2nd straight night

Malcolm Spence scored the shootout winner for the Otters as Erie edged the London Knights 5-4 on Jan. 27.

It was London’s second consecutive defeat in the skills competition and may have given Knights players a sense of deja vu as for the second night in a row a young goalie without much experience in an Ontario Hockey League crease had a big night.

At Budweiser Gardens just 24 hours earlier Easton Rye stopped 46 shots and all three in a shootout in just his sixth OHL appearance.

Against the Otters it was Charlie Burns, in his fifth OHL game, who turned aside 35 shots in regulation and overtime before making two more during the shootout.

Inspired by a sold-out Saturday night crowd on Star Wars night at the Erie Insurance Arena in Pennsylvania, the home-town Otters seemed to summon the force to their side early in the game.

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Erie scored three times in the opening 20 minutes as Alexis Daviault, Spencer Sova and Sam Alfano each found the back of the London net.

The Knights worked their way back in the second period as Jacob Julien batted in his own rebound after hitting the post on a power play at the 5:30 mark. That seemed to give London a spark and they pushed the play to the Erie end only to have Spence restore the Otters’ three-goal advantage at 16:26.

Just 12 seconds later Max McCue banked a shot past the rookie Erie goalie for his 20th goal of the year and the Knights were back within a pair.

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With London killing a penalty late in the second period, Sam O’Reilly stripped a puck away in the slot and used a slow-motion deke to get the puck around Burns where O’Reilly tapped it across the goal line to get the Knights to within one goal heading into the final period.

The tying goal took some perseverance from London. They hit a crossbar, a post and fired a shot high in tight before finally finding pay dirt with 1:19 left in regulation time. Julien slid a pass to Oliver Bonk from the right Corner to the left side of the Otters’ net and Bonk buried his 15th goal of the season.

London outshot Erie 37-25.

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The Knights were 1-for-5 on the man advantage while the Otters were o-for-3.

Special, special teams

The Knights have the best power play percentage in the OHL and the second-best overall penalty-killing percentage.

They also own the distinction of leading the league on the other side of things in each of those disciplines.

London is the most dangerous team in the OHL when down a man as they lead the league with 19 short-handed goals. The closest team to them is Sault Ste. Marie with 13.

When they are on the man advantage the Knights have given up just three short-handed goals to their opponent. That is also tops in the league.

Four ex-Knights pushing for perfection

The UNB Reds have had quite the season in U Sports. A 3-2 victory over the St. Mary’s Huskies on Jan. 26 and then a win over Acadia on Jan. 27 pushed their record to a perfect 26-0 this season. There are four former Knights players on the team among all kinds of ex-Ontario Hockey League players. Sean McGurn, Camaryn Baber, Jason Willms and Cody Morgan are now four games away from a perfect regular season. All four have been key contributors for the club.

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Up next

London heads back to Kitchener, Ont., to play the Rangers on Tuesday, Jan. 30 in the first game since the Knights swept Kitchener in a home-and-home series Jan. 19-20.

London outscored the Rangers 14-5 in those two games and the second saw a third period full of extra-curricular activities that took one hour and three minutes to play.

Coverage will start at 6:30 p.m., on 980 CFPL, at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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