Three third-period goals helped the Hamilton Bulldogs pull away for a 5-1 win over the London Knights at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night.
Former Knights captain Robert Thomas was making his debut in a Hamilton uniform and had to do it against the team he spent two and a half seasons with. Thomas ended the game with two assists but admitted that walking into the building as a visitor was a very odd feeling.
“It definitely didn’t feel normal. I’ve only been in Hamilton a couple of days, but I’m starting to get the feel for it. I think I drove through it a couple of times when I was younger, but have never really spent much time there.”
That will change as Thomas and the Bulldogs look to make a long run into the playoffs this season. Hamilton made six separate deals from the end of November to the trade deadline. A deal to acquire Thomas from London for Connor McMichael and four high draft picks was the fifth of those six.
Another brought some more familiarity to the Bulldogs for Thomas as former Knight and Maple Leafs prospect, Nic Mattinen, was picked up in a trade with Flint.
Add in Ben Gleason, who began his OHL career in London, and there is a good chunk of London flavour on the Hamilton roster.
The Knights played an excellent second period, outshooting the Bulldogs 17-8 as Hamilton surrendered four power plays. London cashed in on one of them as Nathan Dunkley scored his second goal in five games with the Knights. London went 1-for-8 on the man advantage. The Bulldogs went 1-for-4.
Joseph Raaymakers started for London. Jordan Kooy played the final 14 minutes of the third period.
How the goals were scored
Thomas took six minutes to record his first point as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs. He fed a pass back to Riley Stillman at the left point and Stillman’s rebound was knocked in by Matthew Strome for his 25th goal of the season, and that gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Ryan Moore hacked and whacked Hamilton to a 2-0 lead as he got his stick on a puck during a big scrum in front of the London net at 4:26.
The Knights began to gain some momentum as the period moved along and were rewarded on a power play as Dunkley put home an Evan Bouchard rebound for his 15th goal of the season, and second goal in five games in a London uniform.
The score stayed that way until the 2:41 mark of the third period when Hamilton captain, Justin Lemcke, wristed a puck through a screen to put the Bulldogs ahead by two goals.
Arthur Kaliyev made it 4-1 on a shot from the right side of the London zone and then Nicholas Caamano took a feed from Thomas and lasered a shot into the Knight net on a power play at 14:00 to close out the scoring.
The Soo Greyhounds defeated Owen Sound 5-2 in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. The Greyhounds have now gone 28 games without losing in regulation. The longest unbeaten streak in OHL history belongs to the London Knights and was set in the 2004-05 season when London started the year with a record of 29-0-2. It was not just the longest unbeaten streak from the start of a season, but longest outright. The Greyhounds now sit second in that category in the OHL. The Kitchener Rangers’ 25-0-0 mark from 1983-84 is now the third-longest unbeaten streak.
Former Knights goalie, Tyler Parsons, started in goal for the Stockton Heat on Friday night in their game with the Texas Stars. The game was Parsons’ first start in the American Hockey League after being recalled from the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL where he had a 3.08 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 19 appearances.
The London Knights will head to Kitchener on Sunday evening for a game against the Rangers. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app. It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. So far, the Rangers have won two of the first three. The first of those victories put an end to a streak of 14 consecutive wins by the Knights over Kitchener.