Luke Evangelista’s backhand found the back of the Firebirds’ net with 54.9 seconds left in overtime to give the London Knights a 4-3 victory in Flint on Saturday night.
The victory stretched London’s winning streak to four games and keeps them within two points of first place overall in a very crowded Western Conference in the Ontario Hockey League where the top five teams are separated by just three points.
London scored the first goal of the game thanks to a nifty three-way passing play that saw the puck go from Stuart Rolofs to Tonio Stranges to Billy Moskal for his fourth goal in five games.
Despite that beginning, the Knights found themselves having to battle back after Flint struck for three goals in a span of two minutes and eight seconds in the second period highlighted by a lacrosse shot goal from Evgeniy Oksentyuk who zoomed behind the London net, curled the puck onto his stick and wrapped it over the shoulder of Knights goalie Dylan Myskiw.
London regrouped and got a second-period goal of their own from Jonathan Gruden that extended his point streak to eight games.
Gruden then tied the game with his second of the night 5:46 into the third period when he fired home a shot after being set up by Evangelista on a 2-on-1.
That set the stage for Evangelista’s heroics in overtime.
Evangelista now has 15 goals in his second season.
The Knights outshot Flint 41-33.
Dylan Myskiw picked up his tenth OHL win in the London net.
Connor Roberts and Ethan Keppen had the other Firebirds goals.
For the second game in a row, minor penalties were scarce. Neither team scored a power-play goal. The Knights had three opportunities on the man advantage and Flint had two.
London will play three games in two and a half days next weekend as they host the Barrie Colts on Jan. 10 and then go to Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie.
Canada set to meet again Russia for World Junior gold
Connor McMichael of the London Knights started the Team Canada scoring early against Finland and Canada did not look back. Just 3:55 into the first period they were up 3-0 on Finland en route to a 5-0 victory in their World Junior Hockey Championship semi-final on Saturday in Ostrava in the Czech Republic. The win gave Canada a berth in Sunday’s gold medal game and a rematch with Russia, the team that beat Canada 6-0 ion the round-robin and created a turning point that has seen Team Canada outscore their opponents 21-4 since. Following the victory over Finland Liam Foudy was honoured as one of the three top Canadian players in the tournament.
All-Star nods for former Knights
A total of five ex-London Knights will take part in two All-Star games in late January. Patrick Kane, John Carlson and Matthew Tkachuk are headed to the NHL All-Star festivities on January 25 in Tkachuk’s hometown of St. Louis. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz and defenceman Joey Keane will play in the American Hockey League All-Star game on January 27 in Ontario, Calif. Among the National Hockey League players Kane will be making his ninth appearance in the annual NHL event, Carlson is going for the second time and Tkachuk is making his debut in just his third season in the league. Kane will have his number 88 retired at Budweiser Gardens on January 17.
Markus Phillips back in the OHL
The Los Angeles Kings have returned defenceman Markus Phillips to the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm. The 20-year old helped Guelph win the OHL championship in 2019 after being acquired from the Owen Sound Attack. Phillips has spent much of his first professional season playing in the ECHL with the Fort Wayne Komets. He has played in five American Hockey League games with the Ontario Reign. Guelph is one of many teams with big decisions to make as to what they want to do leading up to the overage trade deadline on January 9 and the trade deadline for all other players on January 10.
The Knights will play a jam-packed three-game weekend from January 11-13. It starts with a home game against the Barrie Colts on Friday as London goes looking for a little retribution. The Knights were beaten 6-2 in Barrie in just their second game of the season.
London will go to Saginaw, Mich., on January 12 at 7 p.m. and then play an exhibition game in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., at 2 p.m. on January 13.
All games can be heard on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.