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London Knights fall 7-4 in North Bay

Mike Stubbs/980 CFPL

For the third consecutive game the London Knights found themselves fighting back from a four-goal deficit and for a third straight game London came up short.

The Knights got as close as a goal post and a penalty shot from pulling off the feat, but two empty-net goals by the Battalion sealed a 7-4 victory over London on Thursday at the North Bay Memorial Gardens.

READ MORE: OHL Roundup: Thursday, December 19, 2019

With London down just a goal in the third period, Jonathan Gruden wrung a rocket of a wrist shot off the left post and then Cole Tymkin was stopped on a penalty shot after he sped into the Battalion zone and was slashed trying to the net.

“We had our looks there in the third,” admitted Knights acting head coach Dylan Hunter. “We just couldn’t capitalize on some good chances. We hit [the post] and had some unlucky puck luck.”
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London had talked about getting off to a better start after giving up three goals in the first five minutes in Windsor on Sunday afternoon in a game that the Spitfires eventually led 4-0. London also found themselves behind by a 4-0 margin against Sarnia on Friday, Dec. 13 at Budweiser Gardens.

READ MORE: London Knights spot Spitfires early lead in Sunday afternoon loss

Hunter said the deficit on Thursday was due in part to North Bay connecting early on the power play.

“We got down two goals on the penalty kill. We are using some guys on the back end who haven’t played it [in game situations.] You have to keep those scoring chances outside the dots and we have to stay out of the box.

“It was preventable penalties that we had.”

Three second period goals by the Battalion pushed their lead to 5-1 with 7:01 remaining, but a quick strike by Nathan Dunkley 24 seconds after that fifth goal pulled the Knights to within three.

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London came out with a very impressive start in the third period with goals that came 36 seconds apart from Avery Winslow and Nathan Dunkley. Winslow’s was his first in the Ontario Hockey League and it came off a hard wrist shot from the left side. Dunkley dug the puck out of a pile in front of the Battalion net and buried his second of the game.

That had the Knights trailing by a goal until the final minute-and-17-seconds, but like their game against the Sting, they were unable to find the back of the net to tie things up.

Jonathan Gruden scored the first Knights goal on Thursday just 1:45 after the opening face-off as a Josh Nelson shot hit Gruden as he went to the net and deflected past North Bay goalie Joe Vrbetic.

Just two-and-a-half minutes later the Battalion tied the game and brought down the Teddy Bears as Brandon Coe missed on a deflection at the side of the London net on a power play but was able to grab the puck in behind the net and bank it in to make it 1-1.

Another power play goal by Brad Chenier made it 2-1 before the end of the first 20 minutes and seemed to give the Battalion a lift.

“We have made a habit of coming to play in the second and third [periods],” cautioned Hunter. “We have to start in the first period. I know they want to and they are saying all the right things and we just have to make it happen on the ice.”
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London outshot North Bay 34-26. Dylan Myskiw started the game in goal for the Knights and was replaced by Brett Brochu after the fifth North Bay goal.

London will play their final game before the holiday break on Friday and will look to snap their four-game losing skid heading into a week-long rest.

READ MORE: Around the OHL: Preparing for the worst — and hoping it never happens

Tynan home

The Niagara Ice Dogs announced Tuesday, Dec. 18 that goaltender Tucker Tynan had been released from hospital and was on his way home to Chicago, Ill. Tynan was cut by a skate in a game between Niagara and the London Knights that was played in St. Catharines on Dec. 12. He was attended-to on the ice and underwent successful emergency surgery that same night. The game was cancelled due to the severity of the injury.

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Team Canada blanks Switzerland in World Junior tune-up

Knights forward Liam Foudy scored seven seconds into the second period to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Switzerland as they played their way to a 3-0 shutout win on Thursday in Brno in the Czech Republic in their first pre-tournament game at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Dawson Mercer and Bowen Byram had Canada’s other goals. Mercer scored on a deflection in the first period as he tipped home a shot from Erie Otters defenceman Jamie Drysdale. Owen Sound forward Aidan Dudas set up Byram for a one-timer in the third period. Nico Daws of the Guelph Storm and Joel Hofer of the Portland Winter Hawks split the shutout. The Swiss ended up with a consolation victory in a practice shootout that was held after a practice overtime period following the game. Team Canada will play a second and final pre-tournament game against Finland on Monday.

READ MORE: Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael of the London Knights will play for Team Canada

Teddy Bear tossed

Thanks to a very heavy road schedule in late November and early December (12 out of 15 games) the London Knights have likely set a mark that will never be broken. They were a part of seven different Teddy bear tosses for various charities in Canada and the United States. Kitchener drew the largest total at just over 11-thousand. Knights fans added 8624 for the Salvation Army’s hamper campaign. Windsor took in 2722 stuffed toys and it ended with North Bay. The Teddy Bear Toss first appeared in Kamloops, B.C. in the 1990s and has now spread across the Canadian Hockey League, into the American Hockey League with the record-holding Hershey Bears who topped over 45-thousand in 2018. Tosses are also held in Sweden and as far away as Australia. All support area charities.

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

Up next

After a grueling schedule that has seen the Knights suit up for 15 games in less than a calendar month, London is about to get a break. They will be off from Dec. 21 to 28 for the holidays. First they must face the Sudbury Wolves at the old Minto Street Arena where Dale Hunter’s number 15 hangs from the rafters. Hunter will not be in attendance. He is in the Czech Republic with Team Canada for the World Junior Hockey Championship which starts on Boxing Day.

The Wolves are the only team left in the OHL that the Knights have not played in 2019-20. Sudbury is missing 17-year old superstar Quinton Byfield. He is also with Team Canada, joining London forwards Connor McMichael and Liam Foudy.

Coverage begins at 6:30 with the pre-game show on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.