September 15, 2017 10:58 pm

Tyler Johnson backstops Knights to pre-season win over Erie

Mike Stubbs/AM980
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One of the biggest jobs up for grabs on the London Knights for 2017-18 is the one between the pipes.

On Friday night as London got back to work after a 13-day break between games, Tyler Johnson made his case with 37 saves in a 3-1 Knights’ win over the Erie Otters.

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Johnson used great positioning all night, he battled through traffic when it existed and flashed his glove, blocker and quick feet to kick pucks away and was named the game’s second star. The man he backed up last year, Tyler Parsons, would have been impressed by Johnson’s concentration. Focus was one of those key abilities that Parsons exhibited every time he put on his pads and Johnson was able to witness that first hand a season ago.

The Knights were missing ten players who are away at NHL training camps and that doesn’t even count players like Parsons, who are eligible to play in the American Hockey League.

When you look around a dressing room and see empty stalls, you always have an opportunity to rise up.

READ MORE: Coome’s climb: London Knights’ defenceman on a new path

Ryan Bangs was the first player to do that. He followed a puck into the high slot of the Erie zone, controlled it off a bounce and fired it past Otters’ goalie Anand Oberoi to give London a 1-0 lead at 4:44 of the first period.

Ten minutes later, Otters’ veteran forward Patrick Fellows followed the puck toward the side of the Knight net and as a centering pass bounced off a stick, Fellows pounced and chipped it past Johnson to tie the game.

That was the only goal Johnson allowed.

Just 1:58 into the second period, Knights’ second-year forward, Josh Nelson used a spin-o-rama to snare a pass from Lucas Rowe at the Erie blue line and spun himself in alone on the Otter net and beat Oberoi on a backhand deke to put London in front 2-1.

The teams traded a couple of power-play opportunities without anything finding the back of the net until the third period.

READ MORE: The lasting legacy of former London Knight and Western alum, Chris McCauley

Evan Bouchard, who is heading into his NHL draft year, got a chance to show off the power of his shot as he unleashed a blast on a five-on-three man advantage that hit Oberoi up high on his left shoulder and rolled over the Erie goalie and in at 1:49 of the third period. That increased the London lead to 3-1 and that is where the scoring stopped.

The Knights killed off two more Erie power plays and sealed their second win of the pre-season, going a perfect 2-0 on home ice.

Alec Regula played in his first game for the Knights after joining the team a week ago. The Michigan native was a fourth-round pick of London’s in 2016 and won a Clark Cup championship with the Chicago Steel of the USHL last year.

READ MORE: Alec Regula has joined the London Knights

London and the Otters will meet on Saturday in Komoka to complete the Knights’ pre-season schedule. The puck drops at 7:00. You can hear the pre-game show at 6:30 at AM980.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

The Knights will play their first regular season game on Fridays, September 22 at home to the Windsor Spitfires in a matchup that brings together the two most recent Memorial Cup champions.

Please don’t forget to allow yourself a little extra time to get through the doors and the metal detectors at Budweiser Gardens.

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