Liam Kirk scored a goal and assisted on two others as the Peterborough Petes stopped a couple of London Knights streaks with 3-2 on Thursday at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
The Peterborough victory on Teddy Bear Toss night ended a seven-game winning streak by the Knights and also saw Connor McMichael’s 17-game scoring streak come to an end.
The Petes also kept London’s power play silent as they killed off six Knights chances, which included two opportunities at 5-on-3.
“They were doing everything right on the penalty kill,” said London assistant coach Dylan Hunter.
Faceoffs have been a major strength for the Knights this season, but Peterborough had the advantage on Thursday, winning just shy of 62 per cent of the draws.
London missed Billy Moskal, who served the first game of a four-game suspension that he was given for a hit on Greyhounds defenceman Holden Wale.
Goaltending was another big storyline. Dylan Myskiw of the Knights and Hunter Jones of the Petes combined to keep the game scoreless for the first 31 minutes and 49 seconds before the Petes got the first goal of the game to bring down the teddy bears on a routine dump-in.
Myskiw ended the game with 29 saves, including a point-blank stop in the first period. Jones made 32 saves in front of Dale Hunter, who he will be auditioning for at Team Canada’s final selection camp ahead of the World Junior Hockey Championship, where Hunter will be the head coach.
“Jones played well,” pointed out Dylan Hunter, when asked whether playing in front of Dale Hunter might have given him some added incentive.
“His rebound control was excellent. He made a good case for himself.”
Hudson Wilson of the Petes got the scoring going on a complete fluke of a goal when he put the puck into the London zone and it ended up going off the boards, off the skate of Knights defenceman Gerard Keane and just over the goal line in behind Myskiw.
That goal seemed to charge up the London side and they tied it two minutes and 25 seconds later. Luke Evangelista stole a puck in the Peterborough zone and fed it to Tonio Stranges in the slot and Stranges ripped home his sixth goal in five straight games.
The Petes went ahead again as Nick Robertson netted his 20th goal of the season. He had missed time recently with a broken finger.
Peterborough used a power play to take their biggest lead of the game on a tip-in by Kirk at 5:16 of the third period.
Stranges got London to within a goal again by getting his seventh goal in five games with just under nine minutes remaining, but the Petes held on.
The game was a matchup of the top team in the Eastern Conference against the top team in the Western Conference. The two points the Petes earned moved them into sole possession of first place in the overall Ontario Hockey League standings.
The Knights headed right back to London after the game. They will host Owen Sound on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens as they hold their annual Teddy Bear toss.
Dylan Hunter added that if there is a positive out of the game, it’s that London plays again right away.
“The good thing about this is we can focus on our work ethic going into tomorrow and hopefully come out with a better result.”
No Moskal and no Steklov for the Knights
Billy Moskal and Kirill Steklov will be out of the London lineup for the next little while. Moskal was given a four-game suspension by the Ontario Hockey League for a hit on Holden Wale of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in a game played in the Sault on December 1st. No penalty was called on the play, but a later review by the OHL prompted the punishment. Moskal will be eligible to return on Dec. 12 in St. Catharines against the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Kirill Steklov is away from the Knights as he represents Russia at the World Jr. A Challenge in Dawson Creek, B.C. Steklov is from Estonia but plays for Russia in international events. He was part of their gold medal-winning team in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup this past summer.
Teddy Bear tour
There are 19 Teddy Bear Toss games across the Ontario Hockey League this year, according to the OHL’s website. Thanks to their road-heavy schedule, the London Knights will be a part of seven of them.
London is getting set to host their own on Friday, Dec. 6 at Budweiser Gardens, where they will help the Salvation Army collect stuffed toys to distribute to children in the London area during the holidays, and where the Knights and their fans will try to reclaim the record for most bears tossed in an OHL game.
That mark currently belongs to the Kitchener Rangers. London will be in Kitchener on Dec. 10 for their Teddy Bear Toss this year. The Knights were a part of events in Flint, Mich., and Sault Ste Marie, Ont. They will see the bears fly in Windsor, Niagara and North Bay, as well.
The Knights host Owen Sound on Dec. 6 for their Teddy Bear Toss game. Fans are asked to bring plush toys in plastic bags (there will be plastic bags available at Budweiser Gardens.) When the Knights score their first goal of the game, the teddy bears are tossed onto the ice and collected by the Salvation Army. The most bears ever tossed at a game in London happened in 2012 when 10671 were collected.
The Attack are coming in off the high of an overtime victory over the Niagara Ice Dogs on December 4. Matthew Struthers scored the game winner after being re-acquired from the North Bay Battalion. Struthers had been dealt to North Bay at the 2018 trade deadline in a deal for Brett McKenzie. The OHL has a rule that prevents teams from trading for a player they have dealt to another club for a minimum of 13 months.
The Knights have a win and an overtime loss against the Attack this season.
Coverage will begin at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.