Knights complete pre-season in Komoka
It can be hard to make the pre-season memorable.
You don’t reward winners with points in the standings.
You don’t keep track of any statistics.
By the time the regular season is a few minutes old, the pre-season tends to already be a distant memory.
But, as the London Knights completed their exhibition schedule with a 4-2 loss to the Erie Otters at the Komoka Community Centre on Saturday night, a couple of things will likely stand out for a long time.
OHL hockey in the Komoka community for starters.
And the Whittaker brothers’ ability to take something they used to do on the driveway and make it happen on the ice as Ontario Hockey League players.
Richard Whittaker was a fourth round pick for the Knights in 2016. This past spring, London selected his brother Liam in the fifth round of the 2017 OHL Priority selection.
Being just over a year apart in age, the Whittakers grew up playing a whole lot of hockey together. A great deal of it took place off the ice. Driveways, basements, video games.
Sometimes they were on different sides and sometimes they were on the same side.
On Saturday, they were sent out on either side of Liam Foudy in the third period when London was looking for a spark, trailing 3-1.
Less than a minute after the puck dropped, Liam and Richard were digging down low in the Erie zone. Richard came up with a puck, looked up, and sent a sizzler of a pass right onto his brother’s stick to the left of the Erie net and Liam beat Troy Timpano to close the gap to 3-2.
The hug the brothers shared looked like one you might see in May, when the goals you score bring you closer to championships.
But, it was fitting of what the two have achieved already, even though they have combined to play exactly 11 games in the OHL.
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Richard spent most of last season with the London Nationals, but impressed in the GOJHL. Liam was a long shot to get much of a look as a 16-year old, only he had his older brother to share some advice on how to prepare for training camp and what to expect early on and Liam did his own impressing and signed a Standard Player’s Agreement with the Knights this past week.
Richard is bidding for full-time status with London of the OHL this season. Liam has already started the GOJHL season with Strathroy, but both have a great deal to look forward to and maybe even a great deal of Whittaker to Whittaker combinations to look forward to as well.
They certainly made the end of the pre-season memorable for the Knights and the fans in Komoka who put a sell-out crowd into a beautiful building and stayed loud throughout the game.
Erie got goals from Gera Poddubnyi, Cade Robinson, Maxim Golod and and empty-netter from Alex Gritz.
Liam Whittaker and Liam Foudy scored for London.
The Knights outshot the Otters 29-24 and were in tough to get pucks past Timpano all night. He made a sensational save in the second period off Harrison Cottam, on a feed from Foudy.
Jordan Kooy played the entire game for the Knights.
The regular season opens on Thursday in the Ontario Hockey League. London will play their home opener on Friday against the Windsor Spitfires. The puck drops at 7:30. AM980 has coverage starting at 6:30.
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