Panic is not an enjoyable sensation.
Time seems to move slowly, but you feel frozen. It overwhelms.
Over the past week, the London Knights have seemed immune to it.
On Wednesday, London battled back from a 2-1 deficit that seemed destined to stay on the scoreboard and beat the Guelph Storm 5-2 at Budweiser Gardens.
Four goals in a span of two minutes and 56 seconds finished off London’s fourth victory in seven days.
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Evan Bouchard scored the tying goal and assisted on the game-winner as part of a four-point night that saw him record a goal and three assists to push his point total to 82 on the year. The Oakville native is well on his way to becoming the first London Knights defenceman to lead the team in scoring.
“He’s been like this all year,” says Cole Tymkin, who tipped in a Bouchard shot for the game-winner at 17:55 of the third period. “You can’t even explain the way he plays. He just goes out there and gets the job done and he did that again tonight.”
One scout has said that Bouchard plays the game like he is in a rocking chair. He makes the hard things look easy and his calm nature can be very contagious. Head coach Dale Hunter has that same effect on his team.
He showed his usual confidence in them by pulling the goalie with four minutes to go in regulation time as the Knights went to the power play.
“Dale shows faith in us like that quite a bit,” Tymkin says. “We’ve been through it a lot and it was just good to make it work.”
The win moves the Knights four points ahead of Owen Sound for fourth place in the Western Conference. London has five games remaining. The Attack have six games left.
How the goals were scored
The Storm scored the first one on a strange play that saw London goalie Joseph Raaymakers leave his net to play a puck as Keegan Stevenson came charging in after it. Stevenson was tripped up just as Raaymakers stumbled. That prevented Raaymakers from being able to get out of the way and Stevenson slid into the Chatham native and knocked him over. The puck slid around the boards where it was found by Storm forward Cedric Ralph and he had an empty net to shoot at for a 1-0 Guelph lead.
London got that goal back on a power play two minutes and 13 seconds later. Bouchard’s shot was deflected by Nathan Dunkley past Storm goalie Anthony Popovich. The goal gave Dunkley 20 on the year.
Londoner Isaac Ratcliffe put Guelph back in front with 1:23 to go in the second period as he banged in a Riley Merkley rebound and the Storm went to the third period ahead 2-1.
The score stayed that way for almost 17 minutes of the final period. With London on a power play, Billy Moskal won a faceoff and Tymkin got a puck to Bouchard and he put it through everyone, including Popovich and into the net to tie the game at 16:53.
Just one minute and two seconds later, another Bouchard shot was tipped in by Tymkin and the Knights took their first lead of the game, 3-2.
Empty net goals from Alex Formenton and Liam Foudy finished the scoring at 5-2.
Thomas takes player of the week honours
Former London captain Robert Thomas was named OHL player of the week for the week that ended on March 4. Thomas, now with the Hamilton Bulldogs, had seven assists in three games. He is a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues and with the trade of Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets, might be given a very long look with the Blues in training camp this coming fall.
Penalty kill into the top five
The Knights’ penalty kill has been on a very steady climb over the second half of the season. It held the potent Storm power play off the board and has now killed off 81.5 per cent of their opponents’ chances to sit fifth overall in the OHL. London is now just one percentage point behind the Soo Greyhounds for fourth overall. The ‘Hounds lead the league in short-handed goals with 20. The Knights are second with 14.
The London Knights have five games left on their regular season schedule. They will play their second-to-last home game on Friday against the Erie Otters. After four consecutive 50-win seasons, the Otters will miss the playoffs this year. Erie won the first meeting of the season between the teams, but the Knights have nabbed all four games since. The pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca or on the Radioplayer Canada.