London Knights finish perfect weekend with win over Kitchener Rangers
Nathan Dunkley scored twice and Kevin Hancock added two assists as the London Knights won for the third time in less than 48 hours, beating the Rangers 5-2 in Kitchener.
As far as their schedule goes, the Knights might not find another three-game stretch to rival what they went through this weekend, as London faced the hottest team in the league on Friday, the top team in the league on Saturday afternoon and a feisty Ranger club in front of a boisterous Kitchener crowd on Sunday.
“We lost that game [to Guelph] on Tuesday and we knew, coming into Friday, that we needed to have a big weekend,” said Dunkley.
After beating the Spirit 4-1 and the 67’s 5-3, London had to battle after the first period in their contest against the Rangers had them down 1-0 despite outshooting Kitchener 14-4.
“We came out flying and we got a lot of chances right away, and they were going in the net,” admitted Dunkley. “I think when we came into the locker room after the first period, we all decided we needed to step it up, and I think that’s what we did.”
Kitchener had not played since Friday when they edged the Guelph Storm 4-3.
The Knights outshot Kitchener 39-27 in the game and pushed themselves hard against the rested Rangers. A minor injury to London goaltender Jordan Kooy forced Joseph Raaymakers to make his fourth straight start, and the win over Kitchener leaves him one away from 20 on the year.
Dunkley and Hancock both hit milestones in the afternoon. Dunkley is now at 20 goals, while Hancock has 70 points.
This game was the first of five in a row away from home. London will head north next weekend, beginning with a game in Barrie on Friday night.
How the goals were scored
Jonathan Yantsis hit 30 goals on the year on a Kitchener power play at 5:03 of the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
Before the end of the first, the London Knights put the puck past Kitchener goalie Lucas Pfeil, but the play was reviewed and the goal was disallowed after it was determined that London had entered the Ranger zone offside.
When he was with Owen Sound, Hancock was known to produce big moments against Kitchener for the Attack, and he rose up in green and gold early in the second period. The Knights forward centred a puck to Tonio Stranges, and he scored for London to tie the game 1-1.
Dunkley put the Knights ahead 2-1 on a rebound in front at 5:59 of the second period.
Billy Moskal made it 3-1 for London as he fought for the puck in centre ice while killing a penalty and turned it into a breakaway. Moskal shot high and beat Pfeil for his ninth goal of the season.
Riley Damiani got Kitchener to within one a little over four minutes later as he found a loose puck in front of the London net and smacked it over the goal line.
Dunkley responded with his 20th goal of the year to restore the Knights’ two-goal advantage at 14:42 of the second period. The goal was assisted by Hancock, and that point gave the overage forward 70 points. He sits third in league scoring behind Justin Brazeau and Tye Felhaber.
Liam Foudy matched his sweater number with his 18th goal this season on a third-period power play to give the Knights their largest lead of the game and complete the scoring.
Kooy day-to-day with minor injury
Even in the disguise of their eggplant and teal throwback uniforms on Saturday afternoon at Budweiser Gardens, it didn’t take London fans long to realize that Jordan Kooy was not on the ice for warmup. Team officials say the Vegas Golden Knights draft pick suffered a minor injury prior to warmup and was not able to dress. He is listed as day-to-day.
Kole Sherwood recalled
No Columbus, Ohio, native had ever managed to make it all the way to the Columbus Blue Jackets roster until the Jackets recalled former Knight Kole Sherwood on Sunday. Sherwood was the first locally born and raised hockey player to ever sign with the Blue Jackets. Not long after that, he joined the London Knights and was part of the 2016 Memorial Cup championship team. He finished out his Ontario Hockey League career with the Flint Firebirds and the Kitchener Rangers.
Londoners on the move
Minor hockey programs in London do a very good job of producing hockey talent. This year has seen a great deal of London’s OHL talent traded. It all started back in early October when the London Knights acquired Will Lochead from the Niagara IceDogs. Lochead was attending Western University and took advantage of an opportunity to play one more season of major junior. In December, the Barrie Colts sent their captain and one of Lochead’s old minor hockey teammates, Justin Murray, to the Saginaw Spirit. Sarnia then traded goaltender Aiden Hughes to Oshawa, and Aidan Prueter joined the Spirit in the deal that brought Owen Tippett to Saginaw. Finally, Nick Suzuki joined his old Junior Knights teammate, Isaac Ratcliffe, in Guelph. That deal also saw Mark Woolley of St. Thomas moved to Owen Sound.
READ MORE: London Knights take down Ottawa 67’s
The Knights continue five straight games on the road with a trek north, as London tries to stay hot in spots where the temperature doesn’t help out. The low for Saturday in Sudbury is -31 C, and that doesn’t include whatever the wind chill value is going to be.
London will go to Barrie on Thursday to face a Colts team that flew out of the starting blocks this season only to fall back through the pack. Barrie currently sits outside a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Knights will experience a Sudbury Friday night against the Wolves on Jan. 18. The teams went to a shootout in their only other meeting this year, in which Stranges scored the winner against World Junior gold medallist Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
London will finish three games in four days in North Bay against the Battalion on Sunday. North Bay has been one of the best teams in the OHL through December and January.
Coverage on 980 CFPL will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. You can also hear the games at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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