No luck for the Knights in Erie
Very few things in life come easily.
Even tying your shoes takes some practice at first.
Right now, nothing feels easy for the London Knights. After falling 4-1 to Sault Ste. Marie at Budweiser Gardens on Friday, the Knights were beaten 5-2 by the Otters in Erie on Saturday.
The two teams have lived parallel lives through the past four seasons. Winning has seemed to be easy. Almost automatic.
In a four-year span, London and the Otters have posted a combined winning percentage of .743.
That is unheard of in junior hockey. In a very cyclical league where you only tend to have players for three or four seasons, sustaining that kind of a stretch is a lot like hanging in through a marathon of “Pets do the darndest things”. It gets hard after a while.
But the Knights and Otters have done it. London won the OHL championship two seasons ago and went on the win the Memorial Cup.
Erie came within a period of the Ontario Hockey League trifecta last year: regular season champions, OHL champions and Memorial Cup champions.
In 2017-18, the teams have been in a similar spot — one where the wins and chances haven’t been plentiful. The Otters win ended a five-game winless streak for them, dating back to their first game of the season. It handed London their fifth consecutive defeat.
How the pucks went in
With the Knights on a power play, late in the first period, Kyle Maksimovich caused a turnover in the London zone and set up Jordan Sambrook, who rifled a shot past Jordan Kooy for a 1-0 Erie lead.
Sam Miletic got that back for the London Knights in the second period, thanks to some hard work on the forecheck from Tyler Rollo, who recorded his first point as a Knight on Miletic’s first goal of the season. Rollo fed Tim Fallowfield from the right side and his shot was blocked, but bounced right to Miletic and he banged the puck past Troy Timpano from in close, and the game was tied 1-1.
Maksimovich gave Erie the lead a second time as he went hard into the London zone after a dump in and got a fortunate bounce off the end boards that came right to him on the left side of the zone. The Hamilton native wound up and slapped it past Kooy to make it 2-1 for the Otters.
London got two early power plays in the third period, but it was Erie who got their third goal of the game as Ivan Lodnia scored short-handed to make it 3-1.
Second-year Otters forward Gera Poddubnyi made it 4-1 at 11:18 on his third goal of the season.
Just 46 seconds later, Knights’ second-year man Liam Foudy, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with an injury, cut the Erie lead in half, but London was unable to get closer than that.
Taylor Raddysh skated around the Knights’ zone, took a shot and the rebound popped to Puddubnyi and he flipped it in for his second of the game.
The finer points
London goaltender Jordan Kooy finished with 31 saves. Troy Timpano stopped 19 for the Otters. Neither team scored on the power play as the Knights went 0-for-5 and Erie went 0-for-4. Miletic and Max Jones led the Knights with four shots apiece. Evan Bouchard was held without a point for just the second time in seven games. He leads London with seven points.
The Knights will play a home-and-home against the Spitfires, beginning on Thursday, Oct. 12 in Windsor. The teams will meet in London on Friday the 13th at Budweiser Gardens at 7:30 p.m. Both games are available on AM980, at am980.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
The guys in the National Hockey League
Jesper Bratt might have the shortest tenure in a Knights’ uniform. He was selected in this year’s CHL Import Draft by London and played in one pre-season game before heading for New Jersey. He debuted for the Devils on Saturday afternoon with a goal and an assist in sixteen minutes of action and a nod as the game’s second star. New Jersey beat Colorado 4-1.
As Alex Formenton stepped onto NHL ice for the first time, he instantly became the youngest player playing in the league this season. He played for the Senators in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
Victor Mete was in the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup for the second straight game, but the story was Alexander Ovechkin. He had four goals in Washington’s 6-1 win over Montreal.
Janne Kuokkanen has no chance of returning to the Knights this season, but he played his first game in the NHL on Saturday. His Hurricanes beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 in a shootout. Kuokkanen had two shots in just under ten minutes of ice time.
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