January 12, 2018 12:13 am
Updated: January 12, 2018 2:08 pm

Kitchener defeats London in first of back-to-back games for the Knights

Alex Formenton #80 of the London Knights skates with the puck against during an OHL game at Budweiser Gardens.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Claus Andersen/Getty Images

There is a reason Malcolm Gladwell has received such major recognition for his book, “The Outliers.”

In it he talks about a ten thousand hour rule that states that in order to be world class at something, you need ten thousand hours of “deliberate practice.”

That kind of experience made the difference for the Kitchener Rangers on Thursday night in a 5-1 victory over the London Knights at Budweiser Gardens.

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Coming off a week that saw the Knights’ become younger through trades aimed at bettering the team with an eye on the near future, the veterans of the Rangers took advantage of some opportunities they were given.

“We always say when you do video with guys, they have to see something a thousand times before they get it,” said London assistant coach, Rick Steadman. “Some of these guys are at one time and some are at 500 times, so we’re just working our way through. Older guys can be tricky. You saw it. (The Rangers) were going round and round in the offensive zone and they made it hard for our young guys to keep up with them.”

The Knights had breakaway chances and other opportunities in tight, but came away with just one goal. At the other end of the ice, Kitchener made London pay when chances came their way.

“We made a couple of gaffes defensively where they got some goals early on us, but I thought we showed some pretty good composure and our new guys looked good,” observed Steadman.

The win was the second straight by Kitchener over London after a string of 14-consecutive victories by the Knights over the Rangers.

After Kitchener built a 3-1 lead to end the first period, London pushed back early in the second, only to be denied on three separate scoring opportunities by new Kitchener goaltender, Mario Culina, who made 20 stops in his first start for the Rangers. Joseph Raaymakers was back in the London net for his first appearance of 2018 following a brief injury rehab.

Life does not get easier for the Knights. The schedule coming off the OHL trade deadline is about as friendly as a junkyard dog who missed his last meal. From Midwest Division leading Kitchener, London moves on to host Eastern Conference leading Hamilton who bring more veteran savvy and a very emotional element as former captain Robert Thomas returns to play his first game for the Bulldogs against his former team.

“I think it is going to be emotional to start,” admitted Steadman on the return of Thomas. “The fans will love seeing him back and the guys will love seeing him… but then it’s just a hockey game.”

READ MORE: Mike Stubbs: London Knights at the 2018 trade deadline

How the goals were scored

Logan Stanley opened the scoring with two goals that came 3:38 apart. The Jets prospect took a pass in the London end, wound up his 6’8 frame and slapped a puck off the post and in to make it 1-0. The Stanley snuck that large body off to the right side of the London net and converted a feed from Adam Liska to put the Rangers ahead by two.

Cole Tymkin put the Knights on the board at 10:53 as he snagged a puck just outside the Kitchener crease and slid it past new Ranger goalie, Mario Culina. Billy Moskal picked up the lone assist on the play for London.

Before the first period ended, the Rangers restored their two-goal advantage as Panthers’ prospect Adam Mascherin found Red Wings prospect, Givani Smith in front for his first in a Kitchener uniform and the Rangers led 3-1 through 20 minutes.

After a few close-calls at the Kitchener end of the ice to begin the second period, Adam Mascherin buried his 29th of the season as he set up for a one-timer from the right side of the Knight net for the only goal of the second period and a 4-1 Kitchener lead.

Off a faceoff inside the final 20 seconds of the game, Evan Bouchard blocked a shot in front only to have the puck deflect right to Ranger rookie, Mike Petizian and he fired a shot high and in with 16.1 seconds to go in the game to complete the scoring.

READ MORE: Curling’s Continental Cup is kicking off in London, drawing the world’s best curlers

The return of Raaymakers

Joseph Raaymakers made 25 consecutive starts for the London Knights before suffering a minor injury in Flint on December 28. Raaymakers was held out of the London lineup largely for precautionary reasons. Jordan Kooy made the next five starts for the Knights and won four of them, giving up just seven goals in those victories. Raaymakers made 27 saves for London.

READ MORE: New London Knights ready for their home-ice debuts

New leadership group for the Knights

Before the game, London named Evan Bouchard team captain. Veterans Alex Formenton, Tyler Rollo and Shane Collins will serve as alternates.

Miletic with a two-point debut for the Ice Dogs

Sam Miletic put on a Niagara uniform for the first time and wound up with a goal and an assist in regulation and then scored one of two Ice Dogs’ goals in the shootout in a 5-4 Niagara win over the visiting Erie Otters.

Up next

The London Knights will host the Hamilton on Friday, January 12 at Budweiser Gardens. Robert Thomas will be honoured before the game alongside his Team Canada teammate, Alex Formenton for their gold medal victory at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo.

Broadcast time is 6:30 on 980 CFPL and the Radioplayer Canada app.

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