The London Knights doubled up the Sarnia Sting 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia.
Playing their third game in two and a half days, London willed themselves to stay with the Sting offensively early on and got 36 saves from overage goalie Joseph Raaymakers at the other end of the ice to earn their second straight victory and an important two points against a Western Conference opponent.
“It’s a character win for us,” said London assistant coach Dylan Hunter. “The first period wasn’t what we wanted, and the guys regrouped and came back and had a good second and third (period).”
Sarnia peppered the Knights net with 21 shots in the opening 20 minutes, but thanks to the work of Raaymakers in the crease, the score stayed tied at 2-2.
Hunter said Raaymakers was great.
“It could have been three or four to nothing after the first, and you would have no chance at all. That’s all you can ask from your goalie is to give you the opportunity to win, and he did,” Hunter said.
The weekend yielded two wins and a loss for London, but even the loss added new wrinkles to their game. Down 3-0 to the Generals, Knights head coach Dale Hunter pulled the goalie with 7:18 to go in the third, and London came back to make it 3-2 before a puck flipped from inside the Oshawa blue line finally found its way into the empty net. The move seemed to create momentum for the Knights, and they carried it through to a 6-2 victory over Kitchener at home on Saturday and then into the game against the Sting.
Assistant coach Hunter pointed to some differences in the two wins.
“It gives the guys a little bit of swagger on the ice. They are starting to have the belief that they can recover if they miss a play or miss a pass. They are communicating and up on the bench getting each other going,” he said.
The Knights will play their next two games away in Ottawa on Friday and Kingston on Saturday.
How the goals were scored
Mitch Eliot started the scoring 31 seconds into the game. He took a drop pass just inside the Knights blue line and wired a shot off the post past Raaymakers.
The Knights got that back on a delayed penalty call that saw them keep possession of the puck for almost an entire minute. The puck came around to the right side of the Sting zone, and Dalton Duhart made a move, skating into the slot and beating Londoner Aidan Hughes — in goal for Sarnia — to tie the score at 1-1.
Hugo Leufvenius gave the Sting the lead again at 15:51 of the first period on a power play as he chipped a puck into the top corner to make it 2-1.
Cole Tymkin’s sixth of the year tied the game on a Knights man advantage less than two minutes later, and the teams ended the first 40 minutes even at two goals.
Josh Nelson scored the only goal of the second period to give London a lead that they would not relinquish as he batted in a rebound to the right of the Sting net.
With Sarnia pressing late in the third period, Billy Moskal scored the final goal of the game on a solo effort as he pushed the puck to the Sting blue line, then poked it past a defender and deposited it through the legs of Ethan Langevin, who played the final two periods in goal for Sarnia.
Boqvist and Foudy make Top 100 under 21
The Hockey News put together a list of the top 100 players in the game under the age of 21. Liam Foudy of the Knights comes in at number 95 with a nod to his speed and his play-making ability. Adam Boqvist is all the way up at 58 with his ability to rush the puck. The list is littered with London connections. Mitch Marner is the highest ex-Knight at number 13, while Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine are one, two and three. Marner is joined by a few Memorial Cup-winning teammates in Robert Thomas (24), Matthew Tkachuk (32), Evan Bouchard (59) and Victor Mete (64). The Suzuki brothers from London also made it. Little brother Ryan (75) gets the bragging rights over big brother Nick (79). Knights draft picks Brady Tkachuk (35) and Jack Roslovic (62) are also on there, although neither one has ever worn green and gold.
Knights defenceman Boqvist admits he is feeling more comfortable on a 200 x 85-foot sheet of ice, and his stats are backing that up. Boqvist is a six-foot, 181-pound bundle of creativity who has had to adjust his game from international-sized ice to North American-sized ice. It’s kind of like selling your three-bedroom home and moving into a two-bedroom condo. Everything is basically the same, but it still takes some getting used to. Boqvist now has ten assists in his last seven games. The Chicago Blackhawks selected him with the tenth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
The London Knights head east to Ottawa for a game on Friday against the 67s. Ottawa racked up six straight victories before losing in overtime in Erie on Saturday. They rebounded with a 3-1 win in Mississauga on Sunday. Austen Keating and Tye Felhaber have been a dangerous combination to defend against. Ottawa is a team that will try to outscore you as opposed to lock you down defensively. After that, the Knights will be in Kingston on Saturday night.
You will be able to hear both games on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app. The pre-game show will begin at 6:30 both Friday and Saturday. London will return home on Nov. 2 to meet the Flint Firebirds at 7:30 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens.