London Knights outlast Owen Sound Attack in Saturday night shootout
Tonio Stranges scored the only goal of the shootout as the London Knights edged the Attack 6-5 in Owen Sound on Saturday night.
The game had some wildness to it, like living for a week in a thick forest without a tent. Wild.
There were four breakaway saves in the second period alone. One of them, by Jordan Kooy, was a two-on-zero, featuring Nick Suzuki and Kevin Hancock who just happen to be the top two scorers Owen Sound has to offer. They’re also two of the top 13-point getters in the Ontario Hockey League. Kooy stopped that one and two others.
Kooy made 39 saves in total. He and Mack Guzda did their best impressions of Grant Fuhr as fire-wagon hockey flowed in front of them for most of the night. Guzda stopped 30 shots on the night.
The Knights found themselves down by two goals twice and came back to take an early second-period lead, only to have the Attack tie things up in the final minute of period two. The Knights had to come back again in the final minute of the third period, when they scored the tying goal with 13.6 seconds left.
London will do their best to make use of the end of Daylight Saving Tme, grab that extra hour of sleep and head for Kitchener to complete three games in 46 hours. Both Evan Bouchard and Alex Formenton are expected to make their season debuts for the Knights on Sunday, after being returned to London by their NHL teams this past week.
The Knights also played without defenceman Adam Boqvist, who has not played in the last three games. He is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
London is now 5-0-1 in their last six games.
How the goals were scored
With the Knights on a power play in the first period, Londoner Nick Suzuki picked off a pass at the blue line and raced down the ice on a short-handed two-on-one. Suzuki got the puck to Kevin Hancock and he scored to give the Attack a 1-0 lead.
Aiden Dudas put Owen Sound ahead 2-0 when he stole a puck in the Knights zone, found some space in the high slot and snapped a shot off the post and in at the 5:49 mark.
Jacob Golden’s first goal of the season got them on the board at 11:40 of the first as he took a feed from Matthew Timms and wired a shot past Mack Guzda and into the Owen Sound net.
Almost immediately, Hancock got that back with his second short-handed goal of the game. Just 58 seconds after Golden’s goal, Hancock got a second crack at a puck after being stopped on a breakaway and put it in for a 3-1 Owen Sound lead.
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Before the first 20 minutes ended, Cole Tymkin got the Knights back to within one with his third goal in two nights, as he batted a puck out of the air for the second time.
The 3-2 Owen Sound lead did not last long as the second period began. London got goals 14 seconds apart from Josh Nelson and Dalton Duhart to take their first lead, 4-3.
Nelson was set up beautifully by Tonio Stranges, who left the second-year Knight a tap-in at the side of the Attack net.
Sergey Popov knocked a loose puck to Duhart at about the left hashmark and he ripped a wrist shot high over Guzda on the stick side.
The score stayed that way until the last minute of the second period, when Daylon Groulz got his stick on a puck in a scrum at the side of the net and put it behind Jordan Kooy.
Maksim Susko scored on a breakaway at 12:11 of the third period to give the Attack a 5-4 lead that looked as though it was going to last.
With Kooy on the bench in the final two minutes, Owen Sound had a couple of cracks at the open net, but could not score. The Knights fought the puck to the front of the net inside the final 20 seconds and almost willed it across the goal to make it 5-5 with 13.6 seconds left in regulation time.
Overtime produced chances, but no goals were scored and the teams went to a shootout, where Tonio Stranges scored the only goal and Jordan Kooy made a final save on Sushko to seal the win.
OHL Players of the month
With 26 points in 10 games, big Justin Brazeau made it fairly simple to select an OHL Player of the Month for October.
The 6’6″, 20-year old forward from New Liskeard tied a North Bay Battalion record with seven points in a single game against the Kingston Frontenacas. Toronto Maple Leafs’ draft pick Mac Hollowell of the Soo Greyhounds was named defenceman of the month. Marco Rossi’s 16 points and OHL leading plus-18 rating earned him rookie of the month honours.
Rossi’s Ottawa 67s teammate, Cedrick Andree, was named goaltender of the month, going a perfect 8-0 with a 1.72 GAA and a .935 save percentage.
Varone still rolling
Phil Varone is currently fifth in American Hockey League scoring. He played his OHL career between the London Knights, the Kitchener Rangers and the Erie Otters and will turn 28 in December. Varone is currently playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after signing a two-year deal with Philadelphia in July, 2017, and is still trying to show he deserves another shot in the NHL.
To this point in his career, Varone has played 50 NHL games for Buffalo and Ottawa, accumulating five goals and five assists. He finished second to Chris Terry in AHL scoring in 2017-18.
The London Knights finish three games in three days in three different cities with a trip to Kitchener on Sunday afternoon. The teams have met once this year. The Knights won 6-2 on October 20 at Budweiser Gardens and that kicked off a tough stretch for the Rangers who have now lost five of their last six games. Kitchener was blanked 3-0 on Friday by Kari Piiroinen and the Windsor Spitfires.
The pre-game show gets underway at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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