You don’t have to get a lot of shots on goal to win a hockey game — you just need to find a way to get at least one of those shots into the net.
As the London Knights were playing their third game in 46 hours against a hungry, soon-to-be-desperate team in the Owen Sound Attack, they bought into that philosophy on their way to a 1-0 victory.
London had two shots in the first period. They had 10 shots in the second period. They had two shots in the third period.
Combine that with 32 saves from Joseph Raaymakers and a bend-but-don’t-break approach all over the ice and the Knights showed that even with the speed and skill in today’s game, defence is still a main ingredient to winning.
“It was a good road win,” said Knights assistant coach, Dylan Hunter. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was a character victory by our guys.”
London did a very good job all day staying with the speedy and elusive forwards like Nick Suzuki and Aiden Dudas, who came at them all afternoon.
Markus Phillips blasted away from the blue line. He recorded seven shots on goal and hit the post twice, but couldn’t squeeze one past Raaymakers who looked as zoned-in as ever despite making a 24th-consecutive start.
The Knights will deserve credit for doing the little things that do not show up on the stats sheet, but help to be successful.
With time winding down in the third period and the Owen Sound net empty, London got the puck out of their zone and down the ice for what would have been an icing call had Liam Foudy not raced after the puck and managed to zip ahead of two Attack players going back to get it.
Dylan Hunter admitted even though that play came late, it was key.
“That was excellent. All of the guys were cheering from the bench. That was a huge thing for him to do and it just shows what type of game we did have today.”
Doing what it takes is something the Knights teams pride themselves on.
The Knights hit the halfway mark with a record of 18-14-2. Take away a difficult 10-game beginning and London is 17-6-1, which ranks as one of the top records in the league over the past 24 games.
How the goal was scored
With the Knights on a power play in the second period, an Evan Bouchard shot was stopped by Attack goalie, Olivier Lafreniere and the rebound trickled around in the slot for seconds with players reaching and whacking for it. An Owen Sound stick managed to knock the puck away from immediate harm, but it travelled back to the middle of the blue line where Bouchard wound up and hammered an unassisted goal into the back of the Attack net for a 1-0 lead that stood up the rest of the way.
Playing straight time
The Knights and the Attack played the first 10 minutes and 12 seconds of the third period without hearing a single whistle. The teams fell just shy of the 11:53 of straight time that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins combined to play on March 27, 2013.
More killer penalty killing
After a 5-for-5 effort killing penalties against the likes of Owen Tippett, Ryan McLeod and Nic Hague on Saturday night, the Knights tackled the best power play unit in the Ontario Hockey League on Sunday afternoon and went 3-for-3.
Invasion of the Knights
After the first 10 games of the OHL’s regular season schedule, there wasn’t a single London Knight in the top 20 in scoring. That has changed considerably. There are now four Knights in the top 20. Robert Thomas sits fourth, but stands to slip a bit while he is away at the World Junior Hockey championship in Buffalo. Cliff Pu, Evan Bouchard and Sam Miletic are all inside the top 15. All have topped the 40-point mark through one half of the season. Last year, Cliff Pu was the only Knight to record more than 80 points. He led London with 85. He could be on pace to do that again, but with some company this time.
Next hockey at Budweiser Gardens
Team Canada will play a pre-tournament game against the Czech Republic on Wed., Dec. 20 in London. The game will feature Robert Thomas and Alex Formenton of the Knights and Victor Mete of the Montreal Canadiens. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
Next up for the Knights
A 10-day break from games. The Knights will not be back in action until Dec. 28 when they will visit the Firebirds in Flint. London will visit the Sarnia Sting on New Year’s Eve and then play their next home game on New Year’s Day at Budweiser Gardens.