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London Knights knock off Saginaw to begin three games in three days

Connor McMichael of the London Knights knocks the puck past Saginaw Spirit goalie Tristan Lennox as the Knights defeated the Spirit 5-1 on Oct. 25, 2019, at Budweiser Gardens.
Connor McMichael of the London Knights knocks the puck past Saginaw Spirit goalie Tristan Lennox as the Knights defeated the Spirit 5-1 on Oct. 25, 2019, at Budweiser Gardens. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

The top two powerplays in the Ontario Hockey League went head-to-head on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens and were kept completely silent as the London Knights defeated the Saginaw Spirit 5-1.

Keep in mind, the Knights and Spirit came into the game with the second- and third-best penalty-killing units in the league and they did their jobs perfectly. London killed off four Saginaw opportunities and the Spirit stuffed both of the Knights chances.

Connor McMichael got the scoring going early as he knocked a rebound out of the air and into the Saginaw net just 31 seconds after the opening face-off for his 10th goal of the season and a 1-0 London lead.

The Spirit tied the game later in the first on a deflection by Ethan Cardwell but London managed to grab the lead back before the horn sounded to end period one.

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Tonio Stranges secured a puck behind the Saginaw net and fed it in front to Billy Moskal, who connected for his first goal of the year to make it 2-1.

Liam Foudy scored the only goal of second period and his third in three games since returning from injury as a Bryce Montgomery blast went off Foudy’s stick and past Tristan Lennox and London led 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Josh Nelson of the Knights fired home a rebound just over five minutes into the third period and McMichael’s second of the game into an empty net as London was killing a penalty completed the scoring.

Brett Brochu brought a massive rise from the crowd with a stretch of three saves in the second period. In all, Brochu made 25 stops for his fifth win of the season. The Knights fired 38 shots at Lennox.

London now heads to Erie for a Saturday night game against the Otters.

READ MORE: Around The OHL: Nick Sinclair and the Foudy Brothers

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All you need is one

London forward Luke Evangelista had heard the words more than once. “If you get one, more will follow.” Those words were talking about what had become an elusive first goal in the Ontario Hockey League.

That first one finally came on October 19 against the Kingston Frontenacs, set up by his billet-mate Connor McMichael. And the words held true. Four minutes later Evangelista scored again. Then in the third period, he completed a hat trick giving way to a new set of words, “When it rains, it pours.” Evangelista was taken with the Knights first-round pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection. He is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

READ MORE: Thirty years of NHL captains with London connections

Carlson climbing even higher

I was one thing for former Knights defenceman John Carlson to sit tied atop the NHL scoring lead with Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. It’s another thing completely for him to own the top spot all by himself. He was also in pretty elite company, joining Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey as the only defencemen in National Hockey League history to post 18 points in the first ten games of a season. Heading into the weekend Carlson had five goals and 21 points in 12 games. He led the league with 16 assists and was also top-10 in plus-minus and is also fourth overall in ice time. Carlson credited the early year success to how much fun the Washington Capitals are having. His General Manager, Brian MacLellan told USA Today that Carlson, “has gotten better every year.”

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Stinging in two directions

The Sarnia Sting began the 2019-20 season by dropping seven straight games. On average, they were giving up more than six goals against every time they hit the ice. Things were not going well. Five games later, the Sting are just two games under .500 and they are on a five-game winning streak. Sarnia has reeled off victories over five eastern conference opponents. Two have come against the Kingston Frontenacs. The others have been against Barrie, Oshawa and Peterborough. The change in direction has allowed the Sting to climb right back into what is a crowded Western Conference may not have a weak team.

READ MORE: Luke Evangelista leads the London Knights to a 6-3 win over Kingston

Up next

The Knights head for Erie on Saturday to play the Otters for the second time in the regular season. London defeated Erie 6-2 on September 27 as Luke Evangelista assisted on three goals and was named the game’s first star. Erie is looking for their first win in four tries.

The Knights will wrap up three games in two and a half days on Sunday afternoon back at home against Niagara. The puck will drop at 2 o’clock at Budweiser Gardens. Niagara started the year by going unbeaten in regulation in their first four games, but they now have two wins in their past six.

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The Pre-game show will start at 6:30 on Saturday night and at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.