London Knights come up short to begin northern road trip in Barrie
The London Knights began their northern road trip coming up one goal short in Barrie in a 3-2 loss to the Colts on Thursday night.
As the temperature dropped outside, it felt as though the game was being played inside a winter coat at times — one that was getting a little too tight. Space on the ice was tough to come by.
“They are a big team that can skate well, so they take up a lot of space,” said Knights assistant coach Rick Steadman. “They clog up the neutral zone… and they are looking for you to make a mistake and they come back [at you] on any turnover.”
Ryan Suzuki scored twice in the game, going from his end to the London end on his first goal and converting a cross-ice pass on a Barrie man advantage for his second.
Each team went 1-for-4 on the power play.
London’s goal may prompt a look through history to see how many times a goal like it has been scored. It was scored by a defenceman and assisted on by two other defencemen, and it is rare for a power play to feature three defenders. To have them combine on a goal pushes the odds a little further.
The scoring in Barrie ended with more than half the game left. The Knights continued to go after the equalizer and came close, but weren’t able to shoot, knock or even nudge the puck across the goal line.
“We were pushing hard late,” admitted Steadman. “We got the puck into a couple of good positions and got a couple of really good shots on net and just missed on our opportunities.”
Former Knight Dalton Duhart scored the game winner for Barrie. He was involved in the trade that brought London Joey Keane. Keane was honoured before the game for his time in a Barrie uniform.
Liam Foudy scored the other London goal, giving him 19 on the season and making for quite a night by the Foudy brothers. Jean-Luc Foudy had a goal and three assists for the Windsor Spitfires as they blanked Erie 5-0.
Evan Bouchard picked up two assists for the Knights who outshot the Colts 34-21.
How the goals were scored
Londoner Ryan Suzuki scored the first goal of the game all by himself. At the end of a shift, and with his teammates heading to the bench, Suzuki lugged the puck up the ice, made a move to the outside at the London blue line, got into the slot and scored his 13th goal of the season to put Barrie in front 1-0. The rest of the period stayed close. The teams combined for just eight shots through the first 20 minutes.
Liam Foudy scored for the Knights to tie the game just 1:21 into the second period as he batted a backhand past Jet Greaves from in front of the Barrie net.
Suzuki’s second of the game put the Colts back in front 2-1 just over two minutes later, as Jacob Torotoa slid a pass across to the former first overall pick in the OHL Priority selection on a Barrie power play.
Former Knight Dalton Duhart made it 3-1 for the Colts at the 6:20 mark of the second period. Duhart banged a puck into the London net for his second goal in a Barrie uniform.
The Knights closed the gap on a power play goal that featured three defencemen. How many times has that happened in hockey? Adam Boqvist snapped a puck high into the net from just above the right hash mark. He was set up by Will Lochead and Evan Bouchard, but that’s where the scoring ended in a 3-2 Colts victory.
Kooy to miss weekend
Jordan Kooy is still listed as day-to-day after suffering a minor injury on January 12 prior to warm-up as the Knights were preparing to meet the Ottawa 67’s. He will not appear in any games on London’s northern road trip, but could be ready to go in Windsor on January 24.
The Knights will make their next home appearance on January 25 as they complete a quick home-and-home with the Spifires.
Max Jones makes NHL debut
Former London Knight forward Max Jones was called up to the National Hockey League on Wednesday by the Anaheim Ducks. With Anaheim going through a 12-game losing streak, the Ducks have been making a few moves to try to find a win. They have traded Andrew Cogliano and Pontus Aberg in separate deals, and with their American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego on a hot streak, they added Jones, Troy Terry and Andre Sustr to the big club. Jones won a Memorial Cup with the Knights in 2016 and had 12 goals and 12 assists in 34 games with the San Diego Gulls this year. He played 12:22 for the Ducks and recorded one shot on goal as Anaheim won for the first time in a calendar month, blanking the Minnesota Wild 3-0.
Knights unbeaten in Sudbury with Dale Hunter’s 15 in the rafters
Dale Hunter’s old number with the Wolves has proven to be a good luck charm for the team he now co-owns and coaches.
London has not lost at Sudbury Arena since the Wolves raised Hunter’s number 15 into the rafters at Sudbury Arena in 2014. Hunter starred for the Sudbury from 1978-80 before heading to the National Hockey League with the Quebec Nordiques. Hunter had 195 points in 120 games with the Wolves. That night, London edged the Wolves 3-2 thanks to a goal and an assist from both Chris Tierney and Max Domi. London has outscored Sudbury 29-8 in four victories since then.
The teams meet again on Friday, January 18 at 7:05.
Ratcliffe and Suzuki Rocking
They used to terrorize opposing teams in minor midget as members of the London Jr. Knights. But now that Londoners Nick Suzuki and Isaac Ratcliffe have been reunited with the Guelph Storm, the pair has picked up right where they left off.
Suzuki put up a goal and seven assists in his first three games in a Storm uniform. His goal was an overtime winner at Niagara. Ratcliffe didn’t try to hide his own excitement, tweeting, “Welcome home @nicksuzuki37” after Guelph completed a January 9 deal with Owen Sound to bring Suzuki, Maple Leafs’ prospect Sean Durzi and Zach Roberts south from the Attack. He had eight points of his own through the first three games following the OHL trade deadline on five goals and three assists.
Ratcliffe ran his goal scoring streak to seven games in the process, which stands as the second longest goal streak in the OHL this season. Both Tye Felhaber of Ottawa and Hugo Leufvenius scored in ten straight games in November and December.
The Knights continue their northern road trip in Sudbury on Friday night at 7:05 to face the Wolves, who have been a very dangerous team with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in net. Sudbury is 22-5-1-1 when the 6-foot 5-inch Buffalo Sabres prospect gets the decision in goal and 3-9-1 when he doesn’t. Luukkonen leads the OHL in goals against average and is coming off a shutout win over North Bay on Wednesday. He also helped Finland to gold at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Vancouver this year as he posted a .935 save percentage.
London will complete three games in four days against the Battalion on Sunday afternoon in North Bay. The Battalion had been one of the hottest teams in the league to end 2018 and begin 2019. North Bay went an entire calendar month, from December 13 to January 13 without losing in regulation. A 2-1 loss in Kingston ended their 10-0-1 run.
Coverage of the Knights and the Wolves can be heard beginning at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app. The pre-game show for the game in North Bay will get going at 1:30 on Sunday.
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