London Knights stung in shootout against Sarnia
The Sarnia Sting handed the London Knights their first shootout loss of the season in a 5-4 victory in Sarnia on Wednesday night.
London had been 3-0 in shootouts entering the game, while Sarnia was 0-2.
It was a game in which both teams found it tough to get a lead — and even tougher to keep it.
The Knights and the Sting represent two of the top four offences in the Ontario Hockey League, and they flashed what they could do throughout the final 40 minutes after both teams came through the first period scoreless.
“A point is better than no points,” said London defenceman Jacob Golden. “But when you are up 3-1 and 4-3, you can’t lose those games if you want to be the best team in the league. We weren’t able to win tonight, but hopefully we can bounce back on Friday.”
Sarnia outshot the Knights 42 to 28.
Both power plays were blanked. London went zero for three, while Sarnia was zero for six.
London played the game without captain Evan Bouchard and forwards Alex Formenton and Liam Foudy, who are at Team Canada’s final selection camp ahead of the World Junior Hockey Championship.
The Knights were also missing Matvey Guskov, who is playing for Russia at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta.
READ MORE: Around the OHL: 2 coaches and a major trade
How the goals were scored
After a scoreless first period, the offences ignited early in the second. Hugo Leufvenius scored just 1:16 after the opening faceoff as he set up in front of the London net and re-directed a shot over Joseph Raaymakers for a 1-0 Sting lead.
The Knights got that back and then some seven minutes later as Josh Nelson snapped a puck into the top corner past Sting goalie Ethan Langevin to tie the game. Then, 26 seconds later, Gerard Keane beat Langevin with a low shot along the ice, and London had a 2-1 lead.
Connor McMichael’s 20th of the season at 11:43 made it 3-1 for the Knights, but Sarnia battled back on goals by Jamieson Rees and Alexandre Hogue to tie the game 3-3 through 40 minutes.
With just under six minutes left, London forward Paul Cotter split the Sting defence and put the Knights up 4-3, but the Sting came back again.
Calgary Flames prospect Adam Ruzicka banged in his own rebound with 2:40 to go and sent the game to overtime and a shootout.
Leufvenius scored the only shootout goal as he came across the blue line on the left side and seemed to lose control of the puck momentarily, only to control it and send a high backhand into the London net.
Boqvist looking to follow in his brother’s footsteps
Last year, Adam Boqvist and his parents had a big reason to pay close attention to the World Junior Hockey Championship. Boqvist’s brother, Jesper, was a part of Team Sweden, which went into the final two minutes of the gold-medal game against Canada tied 1-1. Jesper is a second-round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils and is currently playing for Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League. This year, it’s Boqvist who is hoping to be on World Junior Ice with Jesper and his parents looking on.
“We watch every World Juniors at home every year,” he said. “If I can make the last cut, it will be an honour to play.”
Two Londoners traded
Former London Junior Knight Aidan Hughes missed the latest instalment of the Knights versus the Sting and may never play in one again. Hughes was traded to the Oshawa Generals on Dec. 10 for a ninth-round pick in 2021. On the weekend, the Barrie Colts moved their captain and another former Junior Knight, Justin Murray, to Saginaw for Ryan Stepien and a fifth-round pick. The Colts then traded Stepien to Kitchener for defenceman Jack York. The Sting added another goaltender on Wednesday night as they acquired Cameron Lamour from Saginaw for a fourth-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick.
A near-record Teddy Bear Toss
Nick McHugh scored the goal that brought down the bears in Kitchener for the annual Teddy Bear Toss. Kitchener fans tossed 10,630 stuffed toys that were collected by the Salvation Army. The number fell just 41 shy of the Ontario Hockey League record set by the London Knights in 2012. That year, a Seth Griffith goal saw London fans throw 10,671 stuffed toys onto the ice. The Hershey Bears broke the World Record on Dec. 2 when they collected 34,798 in a game against the Binghamton Devils. Perhaps more amazing than the number of bears is the fact that the Giants Center, where the Bears play, only holds 10,500 fans.
The Knights are sticking close to home for the rest of 2018. They will play four home games and make one trip to Sarnia before ringing in the new year. The Niagara IceDogs are up first; they arrive at Budweiser Gardens on Friday, Dec. 14.
The Knights will host Erie on Dec. 16 and then get a 12-day break before hosting the Windsor Spitfires on Dec. 28. London has beaten the Otters twice this season by a combined 14-4.
All games can be heard on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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