Alex Formenton picked up his first Ontario Hockey League hat trick as the London Knights knocked off the Owen Sound Attack 7-4 at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night.
It was a game filled with wild numbers. Formenton also had an assist, making him one of three Knights who records four points in the game.
Tyler Rollo had a goal and three assists playing alongside Formenton and Evan Bouchard chipped in his second four-assist game in two nights. (Bouchard had four assists as a part of Team Cherry in Thursday’s Top Prospects game) Bouchard was also a plus-5 against Owen Sound.
London scored their seven goals on 24 shots and got 38 saves from Joseph Raaymakers at their end of the ice.
The Knights scored two short-handed goals, 24 seconds apart in the second period, courtesy of Rollo and Liam Foudy.
Foudy then scored 12 seconds after Formenton’s empty-netter in the third period.
London has now picked up nine of a possible 10 points in their last five games.
How the goals were scored
The first one came courtesy of a designed play and a whole lot of veteran savvy. Bouchard stepped into centre ice and wired the puck down the ice and off the end boards at the exact moment that Formenton took off after it. Formenton beat out the icing, cradled the puck on his stick, glided across the front of the Owen Sound net and lifted the puck into the net to make it 1-0 Knights.
Jackson Doherty tied the game 92 seconds later on a snapshot that went low and off the post on London goaltender, Joseph Raaymakers.
The score stayed 1-1 into the second period when an Owen Sound power play gave them their first lead of the game. Londoner Nick Suzuki fed a cross-ice pass to Aidan Dudas and he rifled a shot high and just under the cross-bar to make it 2-1.
The Attack lead lasted just over five minutes and then a whole lot of wildness began.
With the Knights killing a penalty, Formenton created a short-handed, 2-on-0 breakaway with a steal at the London blue line. He and Rollo zoomed down the ice and Formenton set up Rollo to tie the game 2-2.
Just 24 seconds after that, and with the Knights still killing the same penalty, Foudy stepped into the slot and wristed a low shot through the legs of Guzda, and London climbed back into the lead, 3-2.
Twelve seconds later and still on the same power play, Owen Sound tied the game again as Brett McKenzie fired a puck into the Knight net from the left side of the zone.
Connor McMichael showed off his shooting skills at 15:22 as he walked down the left side of the Attack zone and put the puck through a tiny space over the right shoulder of Guzda to put London up 4-3 and end the night for Guzda.
Before the second period ended, Bouchard recorded his fourth assist of the game as he hammered a shot at the Owen Sound goal that hit Formenton, went off Olivier Lafreniere in the Attack net and rolled over the goal line, and London took a 5-3 advantage to the dressing room through 40 minutes.
Suzuki tightened the Knights’ lead to a goal early in period three as he grabbed a loose puck at the Owen Sound blue line, skated down the right wing side of the ice and scored his 24th goal of the season, and London’s lead was 5-4.
The Attack pulled their goalie with just under two minutes remaining and Formenton finished off his hat trick into the empty net to restore London’s two-goal lead at 6-4.
Foudy added a final goal just 12 seconds after the face-off at centre as he went blazing across the Attack blue line and beat Lafreniere with a deke to close the scoring at 7-4
The consistency of Formenton
Formenton had one goal and at least four shots in each of his last three games, before his four-point explosion against Owen Sound. He has been using his elite speed to get in behind defenders as he did on his goal against the Attack. Since returning from the World Junior Hockey Championship, where he helped Team Canada to win a gold medal, the King City native has been one of the Knights’ most dangerous offensive weapons.
No nights off
Friday night saw all 20 teams in the Ontario Hockey League in action. There were four all-western conference matchups, four all-eastern conference matchups and two games featuring east vs. west. The east got the best of the west in both of those contests. Niagara edged Sarnia 6-5 in overtime, erasing a 5-1 Sting lead and ending Sarnia’s seven-game winning streak. Former Knight, Sam Miletic, recorded a hat trick and an assist and had the game-winner for the Ice Dogs as well. In the other east-west game, Hamilton held on through two third-period goals by the Erie Otters to beat Erie 4-3.
The Knights continue their five-game homestand on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. against the Guelph Storm. The teams have met three times this year and have three more meetings to go before the regular season finishes. Guelph won the first game 4-0. Since then, London has reeled off 7-4 and 5-1 wins.
Coverage gets going at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.