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London Knights head into break with shutout victory in Sudbury

The London Knights congratulate goaltender Brett Brochu on a 29-save shutout against the Sudbury Wolves on Dec. 20, 2019.

Jonathan Gruden scored the game’s only goal and Brett Brochu made 29 saves for his second career shutout as the London Knights blanked the Wolves 1-0 in Sudbury on Friday night.

With the game still scoreless more than halfway through the third period, Gruden, Luke Evangelista and Josh Nelson of the Knights stormed into the Sudbury zone on a 3-on-2. Evangelista made a move on the right side as Nelson and Gruden went to the net. Evangelista whipped a pass to Nelson beside the left post and he slid the puck across the crease to Gruden for a tap-in and his second goal in as many games.

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The rest of the work was done defensively and by the 17-year old in the London net.

Brochu made a third of his saves in the first 10 minutes of the game but as busy as he was, the Tilbury, Ont., native believes it worked into his favour.

“That was a good way to start the games,” said Brochu. “It gets you into it right away especially if you are tracking the puck well.”

Brochu made his best save with the Wolves net empty and Sudbury pressing. Captain and overage forward MacAuley Carson carried the puck across the London blue line with speed, cut around an outstretched stick and fed it to Ilderton’s Shane Bulitka and he fired point blank and Brochu stopped him.

“I knew he was going to be passing it out front,” Brochu explained after the game. “I also knew the shooter was left-handed so a played the odds and tried to make myself as big as possible and the puck hit my glove.”

Brochu’s first OHL shutout came in just his third start in a game against the Ottawa 67s.

After a loss in North Bay on Thursday, the Knights wanted to be better on the penalty kill and in their own zone and they were.

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London killed off three Sudbury power plays in the first period alone. One was a two-man advantage and they went a perfect six-for-six overall.

Brochu made more than half of his saves

London had five opportunities on the man advantage through the first 40 minutes, including a pair of five-on-three chances but Wolves goalie Christian Purboo kept the puck out. He was named the game’s first star. Brochu was named the second star.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak for the Knights and kept them from joining the long list of ten OHL teams who have lost five straight this season.

Twelve of the twenty teams in the Ontario Hockey League have won at least five games in a row. London is in that group.

Their next game will be at Budweiser Gardens on Dec. 28 against the Kitchener Rangers who have saw their 10-game winning streak end on Friday night when Sault Ste. Marie scored five times in the third period and defeated the Rangers 6-3.

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

Burke and Emmerton headed to Spengler Cup

Team Canada has announced its roster for the 2019 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. Former London Knight goaltender Brendan Burke is one of three goalies who will take part for Canada in the six-team tournament that begins on Boxing Day. Burke currently plays for the Alberta Golden Bears in U Sports. St. Thomas, Ont., native Cory Emmerton will also represent Canada. Emmerton played his minor hockey for the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs and played 139 NHL games in the Detroit Red Wings organization. He currently plays for Lausanne in the Swiss League. Former London Knights assistant coach and assistant G.M. Misha Donskov will be on the bench for Canada as an assistant coach and Londoner Craig MacTavish will be the head coach of this year’s team.

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

Regula in the Czech Republic

Team USA is close to its final roster for the World Juniors. They are down to 26 players on their way to a final 23. Knights co-captain Alec Regula made the trip to the Czech Republic where three more cuts will be made ahead of the opening game for the U.S. against Team Canada on December 26. London forward Jonathan Gruden attended the Team USA preliminary camp from December 16-17 in Plymouth, Mich., and then returned to the Knights in time for their road trip to North Bay and Sudbury.

Stranges named to Top Prospects game

Tonio Stranges will put his skills on display in Hamilton on Thursday, January 16 at the 2020 Top Prospects game. It brings together 40 of the top draft-eligible prospects for the 202 NHL Entry Draft currently playing in the Canadian Hockey League. Stranges currently ranks fifth in London scoring. He put up seven goals in a five-game span in late November and early December. Stranges was a second-round pick of the Knights in 2018.

READ MORE: London Knights fall 7-4 in North Bay

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Up next

The holiday break.

The London Knights have suited up for 15 games in 11 different cities in the past calendar month. It marks their busiest and most-travel-filled stretch of the entire 2019-20 season.

They will have a full seven days off from games before playing the Kitchener Rangers on December 28 at Budweiser Gardens. The Rangers’ 10-game winning streak ended in their final game before the break.

The Knights will head for Sarnia on December 29 and then they will host the Sting in a New Year’s Eve game on Dec. 31. All three games begin at 4 p.m. The pre-game show will start at 3:30 for all three on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.