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London Knights bounce Otters in Erie

Erie, PA - Cole Tymkin of the London Knights slides his 20th goal of the season into the Erie Otters' net in an 8-3 London win on February 17, 2019.
Erie, PA - Cole Tymkin of the London Knights slides his 20th goal of the season into the Erie Otters' net in an 8-3 London win on February 17, 2019. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

Four London Knights had three-point afternoons as London defeated the Erie Otters 8-5 in Erie, Pa., on Sunday afternoon.

London built an 8-1 lead through 40 minutes as Kevin Hancock scored twice and added an assist. Evan Bouchard, Alex Formenton and Adam Boqvist each chipped in a goal and two assists for the Knights.

Bouchard extended his point streak to six games. He has nine points in during the streak. Formenton scored his tenth goal of the year in just his 19th game. He began the year with the Ottawa Senators and then missed just under two months after suffering a leg injury at Team Canada’s final World Junior selection camp.

Erie battled back with four consecutive third-period goals to get to within three of London, but the Knights closed out the game from there and picked up their 39th victory of 2018-19.

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London outshot Erie 39-26 and went two-for-three on the power play. The only man advantage that the Knights failed to score on came with under three minutes remaining in the third period and London used it to drain time off the clock.

The Knights are six points ahead of the Soo Greyhounds and nine points ahead of the Saginaw Spirit in the race for first place in the Western Conference. All three teams have 13 games left to play.

Ottawa leads the Knights by six points for first overall. London has two games in hand on the 67s. London leads the OHL in goals for per game and sits second behind Ottawa in goals against per game.

READ MORE: Around The OHL: Talking hockey culture and mental health with Brock McGillis

Key plays

The London Knights talked about getting off to a good start and got exactly that as they came out flying, drew a penalty and scored the first of four goals in the opening period on a penalty shot. Londoner Ryan Martin was called for closing his hand on the puck in the Erie crease and Kevin Hancock made good on the ensuing penalty shot for his 42nd goal of the year.

Alex Formenton and Paul Cotter had the Knights ahead 3-0 by the 6:27 mark and London captain Evan Bouchard added a fourth goal before the horn went to end period one.

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Kevin Hancock scores his second goal of the game to make it 5-0 London.
Kevin Hancock scores his second goal of the game to make it 5-0 London. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

With Erie creating chances early in the second period, Formenton set up Hancock to make it 5-0 London and stifle the Otters’ momentum.

The Knights added a goal after that from Cole Tymkin, who was set up by Liam Foudy for his 20th goal of the season. Adam Boqvist and Josh Nelson scored with under four minutes to go in the second period and that gave London a large cushion that helped to weather an Erie storm in the third.

Gagner back where it all began

The Edmonton Oilers acquired former London Knight Sam Gagner on February 16 from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for another ex-OHLer, Ryan Spooner. Edmonton drafted Gagner sixth overall in 2007 and elected to keep him as an 18-year-old and put up 49 points as a rookie. He played seven seasons before being traded to Tampa Bay in 2014. An hour after being acquired by the Lightning, Gagner was dealt to Arizona. From there. he went to Philadelphia, signed with Columbus and then landed in Vancouver. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom and Kyle Brodziak are the only players currently on the Oilers who were there when Gagner last played for them. Gagner spent just one season in London, but alongside Patrick Kane, he recorded 35 goals, 83 assists and 118 points in 53 games and played for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

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READ MORE: OHL Roundup: Saturday, February 16, 2019

Oilers add Anthony Stolarz

Sam Gagner wasn’t the only former Knight that joined Edmonton on their road trip on February 16. The Oilers swapped goalies with the Philadelphia Flyers, getting Anthony Stolarz in exchange for Cam Talbot. Stolarz joined the Knights in 2012-13 and was part of a goaltending tandem with Jake Patterson that won an Ontario Hockey League championship. Stolarz made a second appearance at the Memorial Cup in 2014 and then began his pro career. Prior to this season, he has played most of his minutes with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, but whenever injuries hit, he was usually the first recall. Stolarz has spent this season with the Flyers and has appeared in 12 games with a 3.33 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. With Carter Hart doing well in Philadelphia, the Flyers were looking for a veteran goalie. With only Mikko Koskinen in Edmonton, Stolarz will get a chance to compete for the number one job.

Sherwood makes NHL debut

Kole Sherwood was recalled by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this season but did not get into a game. On  February 15, Sherwood got the call again and this time he became the first Columbus-born player to suit up for the Blue Jackets when he was put into the lineup in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Sherwood played 6:58 and recorded four hits and a blocked shot. He was signed by Columbus in 2015 and joined the Knights for the 15-16 season. Sherwood was part of London’s 2016 Memorial Cup championship team. He also played in Flint and Kitchener while in the OHL.

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READ MORE: Erie Otters edge London Knights in OT

Up next

The Knights will finish back-to-back road games in Mississauga on Family Day. In the only other meeting between London and the Steelheads this season, the Knights got three-point performances from Adam Boqvist and Alex Formenton and beat Mississauga 7-4 on a night when the Team of the Century was looking on. The 2004-2005 London Knights Memorial Cup championship team had been honoured before that game. The Steelheads are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They are trying to hold off the Hamilton Bulldogs and the North Bay Battalion to keep their spot. The pre-game show will start at 1:30 p.m. on Monday on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

London will be in Peterborough on Thursday, February 21 and home to host Hamilton on Friday, February 22.