In the first game ever played at what is now known as Budweiser Gardens, the London Knights fell behind 4-1 to the Plymouth Whalers.
Dylan Hunter had the only goal on the Knights’ side.
The advantage London had that night was 39 minutes and 28 seconds to come back and that’s exactly what they did in a 5-4 victory.
By the time the Peterborough Petes had built a 4-1 lead on Friday night in the Knights’ 2019-20 home opener, London had less time to work with and got the three goals they would have needed to tie the game but two goals by the Petes kept them ahead in a 6-4 Peterborough victory.
The Knights cut the Petes lead to two goals on three separate occasions in the final period.
Hunter Skinner scored two goals in his London debut and tied with Gerard Keane for a team-high five shots on goal. Skinner is a fourth-round selection of the New York Rangers. Connor McMichael and Nathan Dunkley had the other goals for the Knights.
Jordan Kooy started in goal for London and was replaced by Matt Onuska after the fourth goal by the Petes in an attempt to spark the team in front of him. Kooy made 12 saves on 16 shots. Onuska made five saves in his OHL debut. The Knights outshot the Petes 18-6 in the third period and 35-23 overall
London went 1-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and head on the road in search of their first win on Saturday in Barrie.
How the goals were scored
Hunter Skinner opened the opening night scoring with his first goal in the OHL that showed off his ability to shoot the puck. Skinner snapped a shot past Hunter Jones after corralling a bounce in the Peterborough end.
The Petes tied the game and went ahead in a span of 23 seconds as Dustin Hutton banged in a rebound to the left of the Knight net and then Brady Hinz fired a shot past Kooy from a sharp angle and the teams went to the first intermission with Peterborough ahead 2-1.
The Petes got goals from Arizona Coyotes’ prospect Liam Kirk and Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Nick Robertson in the second period to lead 4-1 through 40 minutes.
McMichael made it 4-2 at 5:04 of the third with a wrist shot on a power play that beat Jones only to have Nick Robertson answer back 38 seconds later.
Skinner’s second of the game made it 5-3 with just over 11 minutes left in regulation and again the Petes answered on Chad Denault’s first of the year.
With the London net empty Nathan Dunkley brought the Knights to within a pair for a final time on a shot from the left side of the ice.
McMichael and Ovie
Connor McMichael was selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. On September 18 he got to dress for his first game in the National Hockey League and sit on the same bench with Alexander Ovechkin.
Two still away
The Knights are down to two players still away at National Hockey League training camps. Alec Regula is with the Detroit Red Wings and is dealing with a reported concussion. Regula is 19-years of age and can only play in the NHL or be returned to major junior this season. He cannot be sent to the American Hockey League. Paul Cotter has played in two pre-season games with the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas has more options. Since Coytter is 20, he can be assigned to the AHL and the Golden Knights’ farm team in Chicago. It will be up to Vegas to determine where they want Cotter to play.
Three goalies to start the year
The London Knights headed into the first weekend of the regular season with a cemented number one goaltender and a battle for the back-up job. Matt Onuska led the Waterloo Siskins to the Sutherland Cup as a 16-year old last year and saw his first OHL action on Friday night. Brett Brochu had a similar season, taking the reins as the number one goalie for the Dresden Kings. Brochu was named PJCHL Rookie of the Year last season.
The London Knights will play their first road game of the season on Saturday in Barrie against Londoner Ryan Suzuki and the Colts. The Knights normally rank as one of the top teams in the OHL away from home. Barrie has a different but familiar face behind their bench this year. Dale Hawerchuk has had to take a leave of absence for health reasons, so Warren Rychel will coach the Colts in 2019-20. Rychel had been the General Manager of the Windsor Spitfires from 2006-2019 and led Windsor to three Memorial Cup championships.
The pre-game show will begin at 7:00 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.