Josh Nelson has lived two extremes in just over a week.
The London Knights forward has gone through the discomfort of a double root canal and the elation of a go-ahead goal that gave his team a big 5-3 victory over the Sudbury Wolves on Saturday night at Budweiser Gardens.
Nelson took a puck to the face in practice that required some fairly extensive repairs. They were made on Wednesday and Thursday and then the Lockport, Ill. native was right back in the London lineup.
With the game tied 3-3 in the third period, Nelson took a pass from Connor McMichael, lunged into the slot and wired a shot into the Sudbury net.
The Knights held on from there as they survived two late power plays from the Wolves to win their second game in as many nights and move back into sole possession of fourth place in a very tight Western Conference.
London now has 60 points on the year. The Saginaw Spirit have 59, the Guelph Storm have 58 and the Owen Sound Attack have 57.
Nelson and Liam Foudy each had a goal and an assist against the Wolves. Foudy scored his second empty-netter in as many nights. Evan Bouchard had two assists to widen his lead atop the OHL defenceman scoring race to six points.
Jordan Kooy made 22 saves and each one saw a tree donated to ReForest London’s Million Tree Program as part of the “Budweiser Gardens Goes Green” campaign. Budweiser Gardens secured contributions from London Transit, who offered free rides to and from the game for anyone with a valid ticket, and from London Hydro, who handed out energy-saving bulbs to fans on the concourse.
How the goals were scored
After a goal and two assists against the Erie Otters on Friday, Nathan Dunkley got the scoring going on Saturday against Sudbury as he got a stick on an Evan Bouchard wrist shot and deflected the puck past Jake McGrath in the Sudbury Wolves’ net for a 1-0 London lead.
It didn’t take long for the Wolves to answer back as Peter Stratis kept a puck in at the right point of the London zone, swooped to the high slot and put a high shot past Jordan Kooy, 2:23 after the Knights goal, to make it 1-1.
London went ahead 2-1 at 5:28 of the second period as Dalton Duhart showed off all kinds of perseverance, battling his way through two Wolves defenders to get to a puck and chip it through McGrath for his second goal of his rookie season.
Sudbury answered quickly again as Kirill Nizhnikov scored 1:18 later. The Moscow native caused a turnover at his own blue line, went streaking down the ice on a breakaway and scored his tenth goal of the season and the teams sat tied a second time.
David Levin gave Sudbury the lead with under five minutes remaining in the second period as he rifled a wrist shot inside the post just seconds after Kooy had robbed Nizhnikov in front.
The Knights clicked on the power play in the final minute, converting a pass from Alex Formenton at the edge of the Sudbury crease and the teams went to the dressing room knotted at 3-3 through 40 minutes.
With Shane Bulitka on a breakaway, Jacob Golden got his feet moving and made up a whole lot of ground. He reached Bulitka as the Ilderton native was making a move on Kooy at the hashmarks and was able to tie up Bulitka and prevent him from getting a scoring chance without taking a penalty.
Dental work during the week, hockey on the weekend
Josh Nelson took a puck to the face in practice. On a routine drill, a deflection off a stick caught Nelson right in the mouth and did a fair bit of damage. Watch Nelson relive a few painful moments below that were made much easier to take thanks to his goal on Saturday.
Marner hits milestone
Former Knight, Mitch Marner has become the sixth member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to record his 100th point before the age of 21 and he is the tenth player in Maple Leafs’ history to score thirty goals before his 21st birthday. Marner had two goals and three assists in Toronto’s 6-3 victory over Ottawa on Saturday.
The Knights will finish three games in under 48 hours in Guelph on Sunday against a Storm team that they are battling with for fourth place in the Western Conference. The teams have split the four games they have played against each other so far this season and both have won home and road games against the other in that four-game set. Coverage gets going at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.