Brett Brochu and Luke Evangelista helped the London Knights head into a Happy New Year with a 4-2 victory over the Sarnia Sting on Tuesday afternoon at Budweiser Gardens.
Evangelista scored two goals, including the game-winner, and Brochu made 29 saves for his 12th victory of the season as London swept the annual New Year’s home-and-home matchup between the teams for the tenth time in 18 tries.
The Knights hold an all-time record of 26-6-3-1 in the two-game series that often ends one calendar year and begins the next.
The two teams went scoreless through 20 minutes on Tuesday thanks to some acrobatic work from Brochu and his goaltending partner, Ethan Langevin of Sarnia, at the other end of the ice. The two combined to make 31 first-period saves.
Sean McGurn broke the 0-0 tie just over four minutes into the second period with his first-ever OHL goal as he fired it past Langevin from the right of the Sting net.
Billy Moskal’s third goal in three games made it 2-0 London with 49.5 seconds remaining in the middle period as he banged in a rebound in front.
Sarnia closed the gap to a goal when Sean Josling scored at 5:05 of the third period and then pressed for an equalizer.
That’s when Evangelista stepped up and patiently corralled a Nathan Dunkley rebound off Langevin’s pad, sliding it by him to give the Knights a 3-1 advantage with just under five minutes remaining in regulation time.
Justin Nolet cut the lead to 3-2 with one minute and two seconds to go, but Evangelista took a pass from Alec Regula and from the left corner of his own zone, he sent a shot the length of the ice and into the Sarnia net to ice the win at 19:15.
London outshot the Sting 43-31 and neither team connected on the man advantage. The Knights were 0-for-6. Sarnia was 0-for 2.
London played the game without defenceman Kirill Steklov, who was injured on Sunday in Sarnia. He is listed as out week-to-week with a lower body injury.
Team Canada will play Slovakia next at the World Juniors
Canada scored four first-period power-play goals on their way to clinching top spot in Group B in with a convincing 6-2 win over host Czech Republic on Tuesday at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Both Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael of the London Knights factored into the scoring with a goal apiece. Canada finished the round-robin portion of the tournament in their so-called “Group of Death” with a 3-1 record. They will meet Slovakia on Thursday in a quarter-final at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
Team USA will play Finland, while Russia will take on Switzerland and Sweden goes up against the Czech Republic. Germany and Kazakhstan will compete in a best-of-three relegation series to see which country gets to remain in 2021 and which one will have to try to earn their way back into the tournament in the Division 1A pool.
Canada has won the Spengler Cup
Londoner Craig MacTavish couldn’t help but smile, just a little, as time ticked down on the clock in Davos, Switzerland. He guided Team Canada to their 16th Spengler Cup victory on Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Trinec of the Czech Republic. Canada dominated the tournament, outscoring their opponents by a combined 19-2. Former London Knight assistant coach and assistant general manager Misha Donskov and former Knights goaltender Brendan Burke were also a part of the squad.
Knights at the half-way point
London’s New Year’s Eve game against the Sting marked the start of the second half of their 2019-20 schedule. The first half saw London put together a record of 20-12-1-1. Both special teams units have been among the top units in the league and have even spent time in the number one spot in both power play and penalty kill.
The Knights put together a seven-game winning streak between Nov. 17 and Dec. 1.
Forward Connor McMichael had such a brilliant start in his first 27 games that he still leads the team in goals, assists and points and being a part of Team Canada at the World Juniors means that McMichael hasn’t played a game in the OHL since December. Still, the Ajax, Ont. native sits third in league scoring with 59 points.
Ryan Merkley ranks third in scoring among Ontario Hockey League defencemen with 40 points in 32 games.
London is home to the Mississauga Steelheads on Friday, Jan. 3 at Budweiser Gardens before heading to Flint on Jan. 4.
The Knights defeated the Steelheads 5-2 in Mississauga on Nov. 21 in a game that saw Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael lead the way. Foudy had two goals and two assists and McMichael had three assists. Ryan Merkley also scored twice.
Coverage on 980 CFPL will start at 6:30 live from Shoeless Joe’s on King Street in London. You can also hear the game at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.