Knights begin long weekend with big win
There are nine days in fairly early February and they are revered by racing fans and referred to as Speedweeks.
They kick off the racing season, leading right to the Daytona 500.
The London Knights won’t be lining up on Sunday’s grid in Florida, but they showed all of the NASCAR drivers who will be what all-out speed can mean as London defeated the Kitchener Rangers 6-2 on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.
The Knights scored twice on breakaways and once on a race to the net to pick up two very important points in the battle for fourth place in the Western Conference and home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Liam Foudy and Josh Nelson provided the breakaway goals. Evan Bouchard won the race to tip in a picture perfect pass from Connor McMichael. Bouchard later got to 20 goals on the season on a backhand from his own zone into an empty net.
Kitchener leads the Midwest Division by 12 points and came out firing in the first period, putting 14 pucks at London goalie, Joseph Raaymakers in the first 10 minutes of the game, but Raaymakers came up large several times, making 32 stops in all for his 23rd victory of the season.
The Knights came into the game leading a cluster of four teams separated by three points. Even with the two points that London picked up, spots four through seven in the West are now four points apart.
How the goals were scored
Billy Moskal threaded a perfect pass to Foudy just under four minutes into the first period and Foudy zipped behind the Kitchener defence, went in alone and deked Mario Culina to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Moskal and Alec Regula picked up the assists.
Kyle Gentles tied the game on a shot from the blue line that found its way through a screen at 5:07 of the second period.
Alex Formenton of London drew a penalty just 10 seconds into the third period and then scored on the ensuing power play to put the Knights ahead 2-1.
Logan Brown of the Rangers knotted things up 2-2 at the 5:54 mark of the third.
After that, it was all London.
Jacob Golden ripped a wrist shot inside the post one minute and 21 seconds after Brown’s goal to restore the Knights’ lead and then Bouchard tipped Connor McMichael’s pass past Kitchener goaltender Culina to make it 4-2.
Josh Nelson outraced everyone for his seventh goal of the season as he flew past the Ranger defence, went in alone and beat Culina for a 5-2 lead.
Bouchard finished it with his 20th goal of the year into an empty net with 3:05 remaining in regulation to complete the 6-2 score on the scoreboard.
The Arkells would like this guy
The rock stars from Hamilton bring fans out of their seats with the first few chords of 11:11. Foudy has had that same effect with the puck on his stick. He scored his 11th goal in 11 games on a first-period breakaway to give the Scarborough native 17 goals on the year. Foudy is garnering more and more attention heading toward the 2018 NHL Entry Draft which will take place June 22-23 in Dallas, Texas.
Killer penalty kill
The London Knights have been killing off penalties like we have been shoveling driveways this winter: in large numbers. London has killed off 19 of the past 20 opposition power plays with a collection of different faces doing the work. Knights’ assistant coach Rick Steadman credits cohesion, saying, “They are really working as a four-man unit and communicating. They are doing the little things and keeping the shots down and really sacrificing. It’s something guys can really take pride in.”
The Knights travel to Erie for a Saturday night game against the Otters. London is 3-1 against Erie this season. The Otters currently hold down ninth place in the Western Conference and sit 14 points back of the Windsor Spitfires for the final playoff spot with 14 games remaining on their schedule. The pre-game show begins at 6:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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