London Knights spot Spitfires early lead in Sunday afternoon loss

The London Knights zoom around Spitfires goalie Xavier Medina. Medina made 39 saves in a 6-3 Windsor victory on Dec. 15, 2019. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

The Windsor Spitfires built an early lead and shut down an attempted comeback by the Knights to defeat London 6-3 on Sunday afternoon at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

Luke Boka, Tyler Angle and Egor Afanasyev scored inside the first 4:53 of the opening period. Boka’s goal brought down the Teddy Bears and other stuffed toys in Windsor’s annual Teddy Bear toss.

It marked the second straight game that the Knights fell behind 3-0 and as London assistant coach Rick Steadman described after the game, it left London chasing.

“We came out of the gate flat again. We got onto our heels and they got into our zone. They got some Grade A chances and they scored on them. By the time our feet were going and got back into the game, it was too late.”

As the Sting did on Friday in London, the Spitfires scored a fourth goal before the Knights got their first when Angle netted his 18th of the year.

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In a carbon copy from Friday, London began to push the momentum their way in the second period. The Knights outshot the Spitfires 16-8 and scored three times.

A power-play goal on a deflection by Billy Moskal made got London on the board and made it 4-1.

Another Knights man advantage produced a couple of golden chances but no goals and Windsor quickly restored their four-goal lead as Daniel D’Amico batted an Egor Afanasyev pass out of the air and it was 5-1 Spitfires.

Undeterred the Knights kept coming. Luke Evangelista set up Matvey Guskov and after coming so close so many times over the past 11 games, Guskov buried a wrist shot behind Xavier Media to get London to within three.

Two minutes and seven seconds later Ryan Merkley had the Knights within a pair thanks to a wrist shot from the high slot. The goal was Merkley’s sixth point in his past two games.

The third period saw more London chances early on, but some big stops from Medina kept the puck out.

“We are getting our looks,” said Steaman. “We’re getting lots of shots. I think we are pulling (the shots) wide a little too often. Still, the more shots you get the better the chance you have.”

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Liam Foudy’s younger brother Jean-Luc popped in the final goal of the game on a Windsor man advantage at 8:25 of the third period.

Foudy and fellow Knights forward Connor McMichael are away with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey championship. London was also without defenceman Kirill Steklov who is playing for Russia at the World Junior A Challenge and defenceman Alec Regula and forward Jonathan Gruden who are at Team USA’s World Junior preliminary camp that runs Dec. 16 and 17 in Plymouth, Mich.

Those missing bodies have had young players in new roles over the past week and Steadman admitted it can take some time to get use to more ice time and tougher matchups.

“They are coming around. I thought we were in the zone non-stop in the second and third periods and I thought our power play was very good,” said Steadman.

Two of the three London goals came with Windsor Spitfires in the penalty box.

Both teams went 2-for-4 on the power play. London continues to own top spot in the OHL rankings on the man advantage.

London outshot the Spitfires 42-30 in the game. Brett Brochu and Dylan Myskiw each allowed three goals for the Knights.

The Knights now head north for two games against the North Bay Battalion and the Sudbury Wolves before their holiday break begins.

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Game against Niagara rescheduled

The London Knights will play the Niagara IceDogs on Tuesday, February 4 at 7 p.m. in St. Catherines. The teams had their game on December 12 postponed when goaltender Tucker Tynan of the IceDogs sustained a very serious cut to his leg after two players crashed feet first into him. By league rules, the game will be replayed in its entirety. The last time a London game was replayed was back in the 1995-96 season when a leak from the roof at the London Ice House in a game between the Knights and the Niagara Falls Thunder created a hole in the ice. The surface was deemed too dangerous to play on and the game was rescheduled. that was the year that London went 3-60-3. At the time the game was called the Knights had been leading 3-0. Niagara Falls won the rematch 7-1.

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Steklov vs Say

The two London connections at the World Jr. A Challenge will go head-to-head for gold in Dawson Creek, B.C. London Knights defenceman Kiriil Steklov and Team Russia will take on Londoner and Knights draft pick Owen Say and Team Canada East on Sunday night. Team Canada East knocked out the United States 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday after the U.S. had posted the best record at the tournament during the round robin. Russia clobbered the Czech Republic 5-1 in the other semi-final. Say has been playing for the Powassan VooDoos this season. Steklov is due to return to the London Knights on Monday.

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READ MORE: London Knights comeback falls short against the Sarnia Sting

Up next

The Knights have two games remaining before their holiday break begins and they will take place on Thursday in North Bay and on Friday night in Sudbury. London defeated the Battalion 4-3 on November 8 at Budweiser Gardens. The Sudbury Wolves are the only other OHL team that the Knights have yet to play this year. The Wolves with be without star forward Quinton Byfield who is with Knights star forwards Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael and the rest of the London Knights contingent in the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey championship.

The pre-game show for both games will get underway at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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