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Win in Flint moves London Knights into first place in OHL’s Western Conference

Tonio Stranges of the London Knights scores his first of two goals against the Flint Firebirds in a 4-1 London win on Nov. 30, 2019.
Tonio Stranges of the London Knights scores his first of two goals against the Flint Firebirds in a 4-1 London win on Nov. 30, 2019. Jim Van Horne/ 980 CFPL

A couple of Michigan connections helped the London Knights to complete a magnificent month of November with a 4-1 win in Flint on Saturday.

Plymouth, Mich., native Tonio Stranges scored twice and Jonathan Gruden of Rochester Hills, Mich., added another as London polished off a 10-1 November record.

“We came out with another good start,” admitted Stranges. “And even though we didn’t score right away, we stuck with our game plan and it paid off.”

Thanks to Brett Brochu in the Knight net and Luke Cavallin in goal for the Firebirds, no one was able to score for a long time.

The pair combined for 35 saves in the first period alone and it wasn’t until London found themselves with a 3-on-1 with just over five minutes to go in the second period that they were able to find the back of the net. Alec Regula slid a pass to Josh Nelson and his shot managed to creep across the goal line. Liam Foudy poked it to the back of the net for good measure and got credit for scoring until the officials working the game reviewed the play in the second intermission and gave the goal to Nelson.

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Things tightened up in the third period on the ice and in the stands. Saturday was Teddy Bear Toss night at the Dort Federal Event Centre and the Firebirds were kept off the scoreboard past the promotional timeout which prompted a call from the in-house announcer to throw the bears on the ice meaning there was no Teddy Bear goal scorer.”

“I knew about [the Teddy Bear Toss] but I tried not to think about it,” said Brochu. “The game was great because it became a real competition between the two of us at either end of the ice.”

With the score still sitting at 1-0 Stranges took a breakaway feed from Sahil Panwar, deked to his backhand and scored his tenth goal of the year.

Less than three minutes later Connor McMichael grabbed a puck in the left corner of the Flint end and fed it in front to Gruden and he scored to stretch McMichael’s point streak to 16 games.

Kiriil Steklov snagged a pass in the Firebirds zone set up Stranges in the high slot for his second goal.

From there the countdown was on to the end of the game and it got down to 26.1 seconds remaining when Connor Roberts of Flint banged in a centring pass to end Brochu’s shutout bid.

Brochu made 29 saves in all and was named the game’s second star.

Luke Cavallin faced 47 shot in the Firebirds net.

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The win for the Knights combined with a 3-2 loss by the Windsor Spitfires at home to Niagara lifts London into a first-place tie with Guelph in points in the OHL’s Western Conference. The Knights have the edge based on one more win. The teams will meet in Guelph on Dec. 8.

London will play their third game in three days in three different cities on Sunday afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie.

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Another November to remember

The Knights made good use of a jam-packed month of November in 2019-20, going 9-1. Historically November has been a great month for the team. Think back to 2004-05. November was smack in the middle of London’s record-setting 29-0-2 start but it isn’t the only November filled with Knights victories. In 2012 London lost the first game of the month and then went on a 24 game winning streak. Here’s a look at their record over every November since then:

2013 – 11-1-0-1

2014 – 7-3-0-2

2015 – 8-2-0-0

2016 – 10-1-0-1

2017 – 7-2-1-0

2018 – 12-0-0-0

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2019 – 9-1-0-0

READ MORE: Playing hockey, making movies. Such is the life of London Knights goaltender Dylan Myskiw

Myskiw still getting calls

Dylan Myskiw earned himself an unexpected role in the movie Flag day this summer with Sean Penn. Myskiw got a call from a friend of his telling him about a Kijiji ad looking for extras for a film shoot in their hometown of Winnipeg, Man. After taking headshots and filling out a couple of forms, Myskiw didn’t think much more about it until he received a call telling him that an actor had to pull out and would Myskiw be able to meet with Penn. That meeting turned into a trailer with Myskiw’s name on it on set, a week of shooting and even a speaking part. The film is currently in post-production and Msykiw admits he still gets the odd call from the movie company asking about his availability.

READ MORE: Around The OHL: Goals galore and learning to expect the unexpected

Up next

The Knights will complete three games in three days in three different cities on Sunday afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie. The game will be the first between London and the Greyhounds this year and the Knights are looking to change the way things have been going between the teams. London has not beaten the Soo in the last three seasons. They have been to overtime more than once and they have gone to a shootout but the Greyhounds have won the past 12 meetings between the clubs dating back to March 11, 2016. Christian Dvorak opened the scoring in that game on a goal that was assisted by Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk. That trio has combined to play 715 games in the National Hockey League since then.

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