September 1, 2017 11:22 pm

London Knights kick off pre-season with a win over Sarnia Sting

Mike Stubbs/AM980

Five second period goals helped the London Knights to a pre-season opening 7-4 victory over the Sarnia Sting on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.

In the kind of game where young players look to shine with the hope of earning a full-time roster spot, London’s youth took advantage. Richard Whittaker scored a goal and added an assist, second-year forward Liam Foudy scored and so did Knights’ 2017 second-round pick, Andrew Perrott.

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The first period gave both teams power play opportunities and the Sting used the first two they were given to take a 2-0 lead. Jordan Ernst stepped off the blue line at the right point and wired a wrist shot through traffic and past Tyler Johnson to open the scoring.

Sarnia converted a 5-on-3 power play opportunity at 16:14 as Drake Rymsha found Adam Ruzicka next to the right goal post and he tapped the puck into the open side.

The teams played 46 seconds of 3-on-3 late in the first period and then the Knights found themselves on a 4-on-3 power play and subsequently on the scoreboard as Victor Mete converted a slick feed from Robert Thomas right in front of Londoner and Sting goaltender, Aiden Hughes.

That goal turned some momentum London’s way and they came out firing in the second.

Hughes made a big pad stop of Thomas early on, but the Knights broke through shortly after that on a shorthanded goal by Richard Whittaker. He stripped a puck away at the Sarnia blue line, zipped in on goal and tied the game 2-2. Whittaker spent last season with the London National in their run to the Sutherland Cup final.

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Another Whittaker steal just past the halfway mark of the second period gave the Knights their first lead as he blocked a pass in his own zone, skated down the right wing side of the ice and knifed a pass to the net where Liam Foudy tipped it into the back of the net to make it 3-2.

Billy Moskal, the GOJHL Western Conference Rookie of the Year in 16-17, made a key play on London’s fourth goal as he took a hit on the left side of the ice, but unloaded the puck to Robert Thomas, creating a two-on-one with rookie Perrott. Thomas fed Perrott and he beat Blair Coffin, who took over in the Sarnia net just past the halfway mark of the game. That gave London a fourth consecutive goal and a 4-2 advantage.

Alex Formenton made it five straight goals for the Knights as he flew up the right side of the ice, cut to the net and lifted the puck in for a 5-2 advantage.

Rymsha put an end to London’s run by knocking a puck past Jordan Kooy at 17:28, but London ended the period with a booming shot from Nic Mattinen from the blue line inside the final five seconds to send the teams off the ice with a 6-3 Knights’ lead on the scoreboard.

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The third period saw Rymsha’s second of the game get the Sting to within two, but New Jersey Devils’ draft pick, Jesper Bratt closed out the scoring on a second effort after he was stopped by Coffin on a breakaway. He was able to find the puck in the crease and force it into the net to make it 7-4 for the Knights. That goal was London’s third shorthanded goal of the game.

Kooy and Johnson combined to make 33 saves for the Knights.

Perrott and Riley Coome saw big minutes for the Knights. Perrott was named the game’s third star. Bratt took second-star honours and Whittaker was named the game’s first star.

London and the Sting will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Sarnia. You can hear the broadcast, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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