November 23, 2017 7:57 am

Sarnia Sting take down the London Knights

Courtesy of the London Knights
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The Sarnia Sting got the best of the London Knights in the first meeting of the season between the teams. Sarnia winger, Hugo Leufvenius scored a hat trick in a 4-1 Sting victory in Sarnia in front of 3,610 fans on Wednesday night.

The Knights opened the scoring early, on a power play goal by Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Player of the Week Cliff Pu, but the No. 1 team in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) standings and the CHL Rankings battled back to win.

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“I thought we had some missed opportunities early in the game,” said assistant coach Dylan Hunter. “They could have changed the flow. (Justin) Fazio played very well. Once the third period rolled around, we had to open up a little bit and they scored an early one on us.”

That early goal came off the stick of Leufvenius just 37 seconds into period three and turned a one goal Sarnia lead into a two-goal advantage.

“That changes the dynamic,” pointed out Hunter. “When you are down by one you can push and they can be on their heels. When they got up but two, we had to get more aggressive and that can create more chances against.”

If the teams proved one thing through their first 60 minutes against one another this season, it’s that the competitive fire at either end of Highway 402 is alive and well. Both teams played physical and at times, things got a little chippy, which is fairly rare in the OHL.

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Hunter expects to see more of that style when the Knights and the Sting meet at Budweiser Gardens on Friday, Dec. 15.

“The rivalry is strong. Usually (hockey) isn’t like that anymore. Games feature a lot of rub-outs and stick-on-stick (plays), so it was exciting and I think the fans had a good time.”

In the end, it was Sarnia who walked away with the win as London lost for just the third time in regulation in their last 14 games.

How the goals were scored

With the Knights on a power play early in the first period, Robert Thomas fed Sam Miletic in the slot and he fired a shot off the pad of Sting goalie, Justin Fazio. The rebound bounced to Pu, but instead of taking a whack at the puck, Pu corralled it, took a look and wristed the puck into the Sarnia net to put London ahead 1-0 at 3:26 of the opening period.

Hugo Leufvenius tied the game with less than three minutes remaining in the first period as he blocked a clearing attempt at the right point and then walked into the top of the right circle where the Stockholm, Sweden native wristed a puck through traffic past Joseph Raaymakers in the Knight net.

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Only one goal was scored in the second period as Sting defenceman Theo Calvas carried deep into the London zone and then threaded a puck across the crease to Sean Josling and he scored to make it 2-1 Sarnia.

After close calls by the Knights over the second half of the second period, Leufvenius put the Sting ahead 3-1 in the first minute of the third period, knocking a second rebound out of the air and into the London net.

Leufvenius completed his first OHL hat trick on a man advantage at 13:13 of the third to complete the scoring. Jordan Kyrou recorded his league-leading 30th assist on the play. The St. Louis Blues prospect now has 48 points overall, which gives him eight more points than any other OHL player.

Close calls

The Knights had a few of them in the game. Pu had the puck slip off his stick as he tried to go back to the forehand on a penalty shot. Sam Miletic knocked a puck out of the air and into the Sarnia net, but it was ruled that his stick made contact with the puck above the crossbar, so the goal was disallowed. Knights’ captain, Robert Thomas had a point-blank chance in the third period, but slapped a rolling puck into the midsection of Fazio. Pu, Miletic and Thomas have combined for 51 points in the last eight Knights’ games. Pu and Miletic have points in each of those eight games.

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No Jones

Max Jones missed the game to be with his family. Jones tweeted on Wednesday about the unfortunate passing of his uncle.

Next up

After playing five games in eight days, the Knights have just one day off before going up against the Owen Sound Attack on Friday at 7:30 at Budweiser Gardens. The Knights and Attack have met twice this season. Owen Sound won 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 15. That game saw the Knights’ play one of their best periods of a young season in the third to force OT, only to have Sean Durzi win the game for the Attack, but it seemed to mark a turning point for London. They ended a 1-8-1 start and went on a four game winning streak and have been playing at a new level ever since.

The Knights were in Owen Sound on Nov. 4 and won 4-1.

Friday’s game can be heard on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and the Radioplayer Canada app beginning at 6:30.

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