Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters led the OHL with 65 goals in 63 games during the regular season.
The London Knights held him quiet through the first two games of their Western Conference semi-final against Erie, but he managed two of three Otters goals in a 3-1 victory in Game 3.
The Otters came out hard and the Knights held firm.
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Erie put ten pucks at the London net in the first nine minutes and were denied by Tyler Parsons all ten times. Their best chance came after the mid-way mark of the opening period as a puck was pushed to Ivan Lodnia just outside the Knights’ blue line.
Lodnia found a way behind everyone, went in alone and put the puck off the inside of the goal post.
Not long after that, Janne Kuokkanen found himself alone on the right side of the Otters’ end.
He fired a wrist shot at the net and found an open side for the opening goal of the game. It was Kuokkanen’s tenth point in ten games and it ran his point streak to eight games.
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The teams had incredible chances at either end in a span of about 20 seconds before the horn sounded.
Dylan Strome feathered a pass in front of the net to DeBrincat and Parsons kicked out his left pad and stopped him. The Knights came down the ice immediately and Mitchell Stephens put a puck wide off the side of the Otter net and both Erie defencemen watched and waited for it to carom around the boards, only it didn’t.
The puck took a funny bounce and landed behind the net and Stephens was right there to grab it. He zipped around the net all alone, came out right in front and waited and waited and had Erie goalie Troy Timpano down and out. Stephens took a shot from the right side and a desperation glove swat by Timpano knocked the puck away to keep the score 1-0 through 20 minutes.
The Knights came very close early in the second period when Robert Thomas made a highlight reel moev, putting the puck through his legs from behind his body, only to be denied by Timpano. The puck came off Timpano’s body and went right to Erie forward Anthony Cirelli. He skated down the ice, crossed the London blue line and put a shot off a stick past Parsons to tie the game 1-1.
London was one second away from killing a second Erie man advantage when DeBrincat tried to pass the puck into the slot. The puck hit a body and deflected into the London net to make it 2-1.
DeBrincat scored again at 6:34 of the third period as he cradled a hard pass from Darren Raddysh to the left of the London net and slung it in for a 3-1 Otter lead.
Time ticked down under three minutes remaining. The Knights pulled the goalie, but Erie held them off and took a 2-1 series lead.
London outshot the Otters 10-7 in the final period. Timpano was named the game’s first star, making 35 saves. Parsons ended the game with 31 stops for the Knights.
Game 4 will be on Thursday at Budweiser Gardens at 7 p.m.. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on AM 980. Tickets can be purchased at 519-681-0800 x 1, at the Knights’ Armoury or online at www.londonknights.com