Zach Springer stopped every shot he faced in the London Knight net as London blanked the Erie Otters 5-0 at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night.
With Joseph Raaymakers away at training camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jordan Kooy receiving treatment for an injury that he suffered while at rookie camp with the Vegas Golden Knights, Springer was next man up for London and did everything he was asked to do.
“Playing at Budweiser Gardens, there is such a storied history here with this organization, it was really great to be able to have this opportunity,” Spring explained after the game.
The Kingston native spent last season with the London Nationals, backing up with the Knights on a couple of occasions, but against the Otters he had centre stage.
Springer faced 16 shots in total and will have one of them etched in his memory for a long time. With London up by five goals late in the third period, Erie went to the power play and worked the puck around well. With less than 10 seconds left on the clock, Springer was forced to make a reflex save on a shot from the slot.
“It was a broken play so it was a bit awkward. The puck came to one of their sticks in the slot and I went down into the butterfly and luckily it stayed out.”
The 20-year old plans to play this season with the Nationals and is hoping to extend his stay in the city of London after that.
“I’m a full-time student at Western right now, so we’ll see if I could potentially join [the Mustangs] next year.”
How the goals were scored
The Erie Otters came very close to opening the scoring early in the first when a steal at the side of the net resulted in the ringing of a crossbar and a goal post within a three-second span, but the puck stayed out of the London goal and the game sat scoreless at the end of the opening 20 minutes.
Like they did in their second pre-season game, the Knights used the second period to rev up their offence. Cole Tymkin dumped a puck into Erie territory and then raced through two defenders to puck up a ricochet off the end boards. The Rainy River native swooped in front, deked and scored to make it 1-0 Knights at the 3:28 mark.
Later in the period, Matvey Guskov and Dalton Duhart combined to set up Liam Whittaker who walked in from the left point and snapped a shot past Daniel Murphy in the Erie net and the Knights led by two.
Exactly one minute later, Josh Nelson put the Knights ahead by three as he found a puck in a scrum and banged it into the Otters’ net.
In the third period, Tonio Stranges intercepted a pass inside the Erie blue line, raced in and scored his second goal of the pre-season to put London up 4-0.
Nelson finished the scoring with his second goal of the night at 10:08 from Tymkin and Sahil Panwar.
Dalton Duhart had two assists for the Knights, giving him three points in three pre-season games.
The 50/50 draw at London Knights games will look a little different beginning with the final pre-season game against Erie. Fans can look for sellers in yellow on the concourse and purchase their tickets from them. An electronic tally will be displayed throughout the game and the hope is that the money raised for organizations and charities running the 50/50 will grow. The electronic system has been in use for several years at other venues and events and has proven to be very successful.
The return of Moskal and Kooy
Ten members of the Knights attended NHL training camps this year. Eight of them are still with those NHL teams and two have returned. Billy Moskal is back from Columbus and Jorday Kooy suffered a minor injury while at Rookie camp with the Vegas Golden Knights and he is being treated in London.
The players still away with NHL clubs are: Evan Bouchard (Edmonton), Liam Foudy (Columbus), Joseph Raaymakers (Columbus), Adam Boqvist (Chicago), Jacob Golden (Minnesota), Alec Regula (Detroit), Nathan Dunkley (L.A. Kings), Alex Formenton (Ottawa).
London content in the Karlsson deal
Two of the six players swapped when the Ottawa Senators sent Erik Karlsson to San Jose had London connections. Former Knights’ captain Chris Tierney and London native Dylan DeMelo were key pieces headed to Ottawa as both have NHL experience and are only 24 and 25 years old respectively. Tierney helped London to win back-to-back OHL championships during his major junior career and is coming off a year with the Sharks that saw him put up 40 points and play in all 82 games, seeing a great-deal of time against top lines on other teams. DeMelo came up through the London Jr. Knights system and played his OHL career in Mississauga, playing for them in the 2011 Memorial Cup. DeMelo has cracked the San Jose lineup full-time in 2016-17 and has already appeared in 133 NHL games. The Sharks also received Francis Perron in the deal. He was a member of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies team that the Knights faced in the 2016 Memorial Cup final.
Former Knight now a Star
Ben Gleason has had a pretty successful four months. On May 13, he and his Hamilton Bulldog teammates won the OHL Championship. On Sept. 13, the Dallas Stars offered the Ortonville, MI native a three-year entry-level contract after seeing his performance during their rookie camp. Gleason was a 2nd round pick of the Knights in 2014 and finished 9th in scoring among all OHL defencemen in 2017-18.
Whittaker in white and blue
The Knights sent winger Richard Whittaker to the Mississauga Steelheads on September 10 for a 5th round pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection that originally belonged to the Flint Firebirds. Whittaker split his first OHL season between the Knights and the London Nationals before sticking in London as a 17-year old. Whittaker scored six goals and had 16 points as a member of the Knights. He joins a Mississauga team whose roster does not project to be as deep as London’s will be.
Season ticket holder appreciation
Knights season ticket holders are invited to Budweiser Gardens from 1-4 on Sunday, September 16 for an appreciation day which will feature a skate with the team and all kinds of other games and activities. Season ticket holders are asked to enter through Gate 1.
The London Knights play Erie again in Komoka on Saturday at 7 p.m. That polishes off the Knights’ pre-season. The broadcast can be heard beginning at 6:30 p.m. at www.980cfpl.ca. They will play their home opener and season opener on Friday, Sept. 21 against the Windsor Spitfires. It will be the second year in a row that the teams have kicked off the season against one another.
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