After 139 days without London Knights hockey at Budweiser Gardens, the Knights returned to the ice with new uniforms and seven new faces.
Two of those new faces scored goals in a 5-2 London win over the Sarnia Sting in the first of four pre-season games for the Knights.
Johnny Gruden’s first goal in green and gold ended up being the game winner. It came right off a face-off on a Knight power play in the second period.
Hunter Skinner made is OHL pre-season debut a memorable one with a glimpse of his booming shot from the point and then an empty-netter that traveled about as close to 200 feet as possible on a hockey rink. Skinner shot the puck from deep in the left corner of his own zone and hit the Sting net almost dead centre.
Matvey Guskov, Billy Moskal and Paul Cotter scored the other goals for London.
Nolan Dann and Brayden Guy, the son of former Knight Mark Guy, scored for Sarnia.
London wore very similar uniforms to the one Mark Guy put on when he played in the early 1990s. The Knights unveiled them over the summer, returning to a classic colour scheme and the logo the team had when they won their first Memorial Cup in 2005.
The Knights outshot the Sting 45-19. Cameron Lamour made 40 saves for Sarnia. Jordan Kooy played the entire game for the Knights.
Kooy is the oldest returning goaltender on the London roster. He is locked into the starter’s spot but the number two job will belong to either Brett Brochu or Matt Onuska.
Brochu was a 6th round pick of the Knights in 2018. He spent last season with the Dresden Jr. Kings, where as a 16-year old he earned more and more playing time as the year wore on. Onuska is well-known to fans of the London Nationals. He was in goal for the Waterloo Siskins in the Sutherland Cup finals. The Siskins won the series in overtime in Game 7.
Ten off to NHL Camps
Ten players on the London Knights roster will attend training camps in the National Hockey League when they get going, all eight drafted players plus Billy Moskal and Josh Nelson.
Nelson will skate the with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Moskal has been invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins camp.
Former Knights defenceman Will Lochead and former goalie Joseph Raaymakers will be in Florida with the Panthers. Lochead is set to play the year in the American Hockey League with Springfield after signing a one-way deal in the off-season.
Raaymakers will attend St. Francis Xavier University.
Kevin Hancock finished his OHL career in London last year. He will be at training camp with the St. Louis Blues and if he doesn’t earn a contract, is slated to go to Brock University.
Eleven defencemen will show their stuff
The London Knights began training camp with 80 players. That number is down to 29. Eleven of those players are defencemen.
Riley Coome has become the grandpa of the group. He turned 20 years old in July.
Alec Regula and Gerard Keane are the only other returnees from 2018-19. Hunter Skinner was a 5th round pick of the Knights in 2017 and was selected by the New York Rangers. London took Kirill Steklov out of Estonia in the CHL Import draft and signed 6’4″ Bryce Montgomery as a Free Agent.
Liam Whittaker is 18 years old and pushing for a full-time role on the roster and he will do that against 17-year olds Ben Roger, and Avery Winslow and 16-year olds Logan Mailloux and Connor Federkow.
The Knights and Sting play the second game of their annual back-to-back exhibition matchups on Saturday night in Sarnia.
You will be able to hear the pre-game show and play-by-play beginning at 6:30 on 980 CFPL and at http://www.980cfpl.ca.
Following that game, London will be off until Sept. 13, when they play two games in two nights against the Erie Otters. The first will be at Budweiser Gardens and then the teams will go to Clinton on September 14.