Goalies put on a show in London Knights victory over Sudbury Wolves
Scoring goals at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night was about as difficult as finding someone to put on your winter tires after the first snowfall of the season.
Joseph Raaymakers of the London Knights and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of the Sudbury Wolves put on a show, combining to make 65 saves in a 2-1 shootout win by the Knights that saw them stretch their unbeaten-in-regulation streak to 7-0-1.
Knights forward Connor McMichael scored in the first period for London, while Blake Murray scored in the third period for the Wolves.
Knights rookie Antonio Stranges had the only goal in the shootout.
In and around those goals were kick saves, glove saves, blocker saves and close calls that were stopped because both goalies brought the old Ken Dryden line back to life and “got something in front of the puck.”
London had the edge in shots 41-26, allowing Luukkonen to show why he has been instrumental in Sudbury’s 10-win start to the season.
Raaymakers’ work in the two games prior to Friday night saw him named CHL Goaltender of the Week, and he wound up stretching a shutout streak to 133 minutes. Raaymakers was named the game’s first star, stopping all three shots he faced in the shootout. Luukkonen was named the game’s second star.
The Wolves are now 2-0-2 in their past four games.
How the goals were scored
There seems to be some kind of cosmic connection between McMichael and the Mac Attack promotion at Budweiser Gardens. At some point during a London Knights game, two minutes is put up on the board and an announcement rings through the building that if the Knights score before the two minutes ends, everyone in attendance at Budweiser Gardens gets a Big Mac. McMichael did it twice early in the season, but with the Knights on the road in six of their past eight games, he hadn’t had many chances to try for a third Mac Attack goal. The two minutes popped up on the scoreboard as the Knights began a five-on-three power play in the first period. With two seconds remaining in a five-on-four man advantage, Matthew Timms found McMichael, got to the slot and ripped a shot past Luukkonen for a 1-0 London lead that had the elated crowd all set to chow down after the game.
That nearly stood up as the only goal of the game. The Wolves were denied by Raaymakers again and again on quality chances but managed to tie the game at 11:26 of the third period as Murray got his stick on a puck in front and got it over the goal line to make it 1-1.
The best chance of overtime came with 22.6 seconds remaining as Liam Foudy was awarded a penalty shot, only to be stopped by Luukkonen.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stops Liam Foudy on a penalty shot with 22.6 seconds to go in overtime to send the Knights and Wolves to a shootout. pic.twitter.com/AjGtqyw1nb
— Mike Stubbs (@stubbs980) November 10, 2018
Stranges scored on the first shot of the shootout to give the Knights the victory.
Knights announce leadership group
The return of Evan Bouchard to the Knights also means the return of the “C” to his sweater. Bouchard began last season halfway expecting to be fourth on the depth chart behind names like Victor Mete, Olli Juolevi and Brandon Crawley. When Mete made the Montreal Canadiens, Crawley made the Hartford Wolf Pack and Juolevi was placed in Finland by the Vancouver Canucks, Bouchard rose up to take on number one minutes on the Knights’ defence. When former London Knights captain Robert Thomas was moved to Hamilton at the trade deadline, Bouchard was made captain and excelled through every step, posting 87 points. Opposing players always pointed to him as being one of the toughest players to face in the OHL. He is joined for 2018-19 by Foudy, Cole Tymkin, Will Lochead and Alex Formenton. Foudy and Tymkin will wear “As” when London puts on their white sweaters, and Formenton and Lochead will wear “As” when the Knights don their green sweaters.
Thomas plays his tenth
Thomas may still be waiting to hear the words every NHL rookie hopes for, but the statistics show he is very likely sticking with the St. Louis Blues this season. The words are: “Go get yourself a place.” That short sentence is the guarantee that a team wants to keep any players with junior eligibility on their club for the season. It usually comes as a player plays his tenth game in a National Hockey League season, which allows a year of his entry-level contract to kick in. For Thomas, Game 10 came Friday night against the San Jose Sharks.
Raaymakers named CHL Goaltender of the Week
Raaymakers stopped 55 of 57 shots in games against Flint and Kitchener and picked up his first shutout of the season, earning him Goaltender of the Week honours, not just in the OHL but across the entire Canadian Hockey League. His shutout streak nearly lasted through Friday’s game as well before Murray broke it with 8:34 to go in the third period, giving the Chatham native 133 straight minutes without allowing a goal. Raaymakers attended training camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets and appeared in an NHL exhibition game. He began his career in Sault Ste. Marie before being acquired by the Knights in 2017-18.
Flint wins again
Give a team a shot of confidence and get out of the way. Two and a half days after picking up their first victory in 18 tries in 2018-19, the Flint Firebirds defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-2 at home on Friday. The Greyhounds had come into the game on a 9-0-3-1 roll. Jake Durham, who had a hat trick in Flint’s 7-4 win over Sarnia on Oct. 7, had two goals and an assist against the Hounds.
The Knights will play their annual Remembrance Day game on Nov. 11 at home against the Kitchener Rangers. A ceremony to honour veterans will take place before the drop of the puck. London and the Rangers met on Nov. 4 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium as Formenton and Bouchard returned to the Knights’ lineup. Both scored a goal in a 3-0 London win. The Knights beat Kitchener 6-2 in October in the first meeting between the teams.
Coverage will begin at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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