In a game that gave a great demonstration of the art of goaltending, the Windsor Spitfires blanked the London Knights 2-0 at the WFCU Centre on Thursday night.
Joseph Raaymakers of the Knights and Michael DiPietro of the Spitfires took turns making toe saves and denying rebound tries. DiPietro made 32 saves and was named first star. Raaymakers took second-star honours with 26 stops on the night.
The Knights pressed all game long. Liam Foudy had six shots on goal while Connor McMichael and Adam Boqvist each had five. McMichael had been off to a hot start with four goals in three games heading into Thursday.
Hunter felt at times the Knights got caught trying to make a nice play instead of the easiest play.
“I thought we were being a little too pretty and we were getting hemmed in our zone. Sometimes, you just have to rim the puck around the boards and then get after it.”
London’s power play was held quiet, but Hunter was not overly concerned.
“It’s not a flip-a-switch kind of thing. When you have new guys coming in, you have to see what positions they can play and see what works. There is no panic mode — you just go back to the drawing board and try something else.”
How the goals were scored
The first one happened in a flash. Sergei Popov of the Knights made a great defensive play, picking off a centering pass from behind the net, but as Popov tried to move the puck to safety, the long reach of six-foot-nine-inch Curtis Douglas stole it away and wrapped the puck past London goaltender Raaymakers.
The only other goal came late in the third period as Spitfires rookie Will Cuylle shifted to the right point to cover for a pinching defenceman only to have the puck come back to him. Cuylle wristed it at the net and forward Cole Purboo deflected it in for a 2-0 Windsor lead.
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First meeting of the Foudys
Liam Foudy of the London Knights and his brother Jean-Luc were born roughly two years and two months apart. Thursday marked the first of what should be quite a few meetings in the OHL. Both brothers were held off the scoresheet, but each of the brothers created offensive chances all game long using their speed. Bragging rights will be back up for grabs on Nov. 25 as London returns to Windsor.
One day, Two deals
The Knights made two trades on Tuesday. In the morning, they acquired overage defenceman Will Lochead from the Niagara Ice Dogs in exchange for a third-round pick in 2024. Lochead is attending Western University and was planning to play for the Mustangs this season. He spent three years in Niagara, appearing in 156 games. He is a player who plays with an edge and was actually part of the Ice Dogs team that went head-to-head with the Knights in the 2016 OHL Championship series.
On the same day, London traded forward Lucas Rowe to the Flint Firebirds. In return, the Knights received a conditional third-round selection. Rowe is in his draft year and much like London’s trade of Ryan Bangs to the Firebirds last week, Rowe will get an opportunity at more ice time in Flint. An injury and a veteran roster for much of the season limited the Etobicoke native to 25 games in his rookie season. He will be looking to recapture what helped him to a first-round selection by the Knights in 2017 after helping the Mississauga Reps to win the OHL Cup.
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Knights’ Kolyachonok now with Flint
A day after being waived by the London Knights, Vladislav Kolyachonok was claimed by the Flint Firebirds. It was a move London had to make in order to get back to a limit of two import players on their roster. This season wound up being completely opposite to what took place for London in 2017-18. The Knights had drafted Adam Boqvist and Jesper Bratt and had an outside shot at Olli Juolevi coming back to the OHL from Vancouver. Boqvist elected to stay in Sweden for one more year, Juolevi went to Finland and Bratt played one pre-season game in London and made the New Jersey Devils. That left the Knights with no imports all season. This year, all three who could possibly play in London wound up on their roster.
Knights sign Roger
London announced the signing of 16-year-old defenceman Ben Roger on Oct. 3. He is the sixth player to come out of the Knights’ 2018 draft class, joining Luke Evangelista, Tonio Stranges, Sahil Panwar, Gerard Keane and Sean McGurn. London general manager Mark Hunter described Rogers as, “a very exciting defensive prospect with great poise and puck-moving abilities.” He will play this season for the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL.
Kelowna to host 2020 Memorial Cup tournament
When it leaves Halifax in late May of 2019, the Memorial Cup trophy will spend some time with the latest championship team in major junior hockey and then get set for its next destination. The city of Kelowna, B.C., was selected as tournament host in 2020. Kelowna played host in 2004 with a brick wall of a defence led by Shea Weber that allowed three goals against in the four games that they played. Kamloops, B.C., and Lethbridge, Alta., also submitted bids to host.
Next up for the Knights
The London Knights headed right home from Windsor and will play the Owen Sound Attack on Friday. The game will be the first meeting between the teams since the end of their playoff series last spring. The Attack are 2-3 on the season and coming off a 5-2 victory over the Sarnia Sting on Wednesday. Kevin Hancock and Nick Suzuki each had three points in that game and helped Owen Sound outshoot the Sting 50-32.
You will be able to hear the pre-game show and play-by-play beginning at 6:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at 980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.