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Connor McMichael reaches 30 goals as the London Knights down the Greyhounds

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - Connor McMichael starts to celebrate his 30th goal of the season as the London Knights defeated the Soo greyhounds in a game played in Sault Ste. Marie on January 12, 2020.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - Connor McMichael starts to celebrate his 30th goal of the season as the London Knights defeated the Soo greyhounds in a game played in Sault Ste. Marie on January 12, 2020. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

For three seasons and for whatever reason, the London Knights could not beat the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

A 7-1 victory on Sunday gave London their second consecutive win in the Sault and chased away any of the mastery that the Greyhounds had held over London, dating back to the Matthew Tkachuk-Mitch Marner-Christian Dvorak days for the Knights.

Connor McMichael’s two goals got him to 30 on the season. McMichael is as humble and low-key a hockey player as you can find, but he flashed some flare on his latest milestone as he took a shot from between his legs and picked a top corner on Sault Ste. Marie goalkeeper Bailey Brkin, giving London a 3-0 lead.

When asked about it, McMichael just shrugged but at the same time couldn’t help but smile.

“I don’t know…” said McMichael. “I was just trying to do something different, maybe use a little creativity and it worked.”

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The goal was bigger than the highlight reel it will live on as it gave the Knights some breathing room and fought off some push-back from the Greyhounds who had come out hard in the second period. An apparent goal short-handed goal by Zack Trott had been disallowed after it was ruled offside and McMichael’s goal soon afterward took what could have been a one-goal game and gave London a three-goal spread.

Knights assistant coach Rick Steadman have it a little more analysis.

“He’s got a great offensive mind,” described Steadman. “To know that the goalie was going to overplay him on his backhand and then be able to do back through his legs was something. Don’t miss the fact that [McMichael] also put it off the bar and in just to top it off. It was a nice play.”

Gerard Keane also scored a pair for the Knights and Luke Evangelista had a four-point afternoon on a goal and three assists, giving him 40 points overall in his sophomore season in the Ontario Hockey League.

“[Evangelista] is rocking,” said Steadman.
“With the guys away [at World Juniors] he got more ice time and it’s to the point that you can play him anywhere and he gets things done and he gets points”

Alec Regula had a goal and two assists and McMichael added an assist for a three-point afternoon and a first star nod.

READ MORE: Talking world juniors with London Knights’ Mark Hunter, Dale Hunter and Chris Maton

The Knights jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on a pair of goals that both came off rebounds. Gerard Keane knocked in his own rebound at 9:09 and then McMichael poked a puck past Brkin exactly 60 seconds later.

After McMichael’s goal made it 3-0 in the second period, London cashed in on the power play on a backhand by Alec Regula to go ahead by four goals.

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Joe Carroll scored on a breakaway to cut into the Knights lead but a second goal on the man advantage by Liam Foudy had London back in front by four through 40 minutes.

Keane and Evangelista added late third period goals to close out the scoring.

The Knights got the first five power plays of the game and went 2-for-6 overall. They held the ‘Hounds off the scoreboard on the man advantage on the two chances Sault Ste. Marie was given.

London outshot the Greyhounds 29-26.

The Knghts will return home on Friday, January 17 at 7:30 as they raise Patrick Kane’s number 88 to the rafters and then play the Sudbury Wolves.

Kane set to have number 88 retired

Patrick Kane played only one season for the London Knights, but what a season it was.

Kane joined the Knights for the 2006-07 Ontario Hockey League season and scored 62 goals and added 83 assists for 145 points in just 58 games. The Buffalo, N.Y. native also represented the United States at the 2007 World Junior Hockey Championship, where he had nine points in seven games as an 18-year old.

In June 2007, Kane was selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Entry Draft. In his first National Hockey League season, Kane won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. Two years later, he won his first Stanley Cup, scoring the clinching goal.

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Name a high-end NHL award, Kane has won it. He has won the Stanley Cup a total of three times and is nearing 1000 NHL points. His 88 will join the rest of London’s retired names and numbers in the rafters at Budweiser Gardens when London hosts the Sudbury Wolves on Jan. 17.

READ MORE: London goalie emerging as top prospect with Peterborough Petes

McMichael climbing another list

With his fourth hat trick this season, Knights forward Connor McMichael has joined some exclusive company and is getting closer to some more.

Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow on Twitter) points out McMichael is one of six London players to record four three-goal games in a single season since 1997-98. Patrick Kane had seven in 2006-07, while A.J. Perry had five in the same year. Seth Griffith had four in 2011-12, Rob Schremp had four in 2004-05 and Mitch Marner had four in the month of November in 2014.

Cole Tymkin off to Caledonia

Cole Tymkin has gone from a team battling for first place in the OHL to a team firmly entrenched in first place in the GOJHL.

Tymkin will play his first game in a Caledonia Corvairs uniform in the very near future. The Corvairs are 33-3-0-1 this season, which gives them a winning percentage above .900. The team went on hiatus in 2018-19 but has won three of the past five Sutherland Cup championships and lost in the final in 2018.

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READ MORE: London Knights acquire overage defenceman Markus Phillips from Guelph Storm

Up next

London will start to see a whole lot of the Budweiser Gardens, as five of their next six games will be on home ice through the end of January. The Knights will be home to Quentin Byfield and the Sudbury Wolves on Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will see Patrick Kane’s number 88 raised to the rafters. London blanked the Wolves 1-0 in Sudbury in their final game before the hoiliday break. Jonathan Gruden scored the only goal in that game and Brett Brochu picked up the shutout.

London and Erie will meet at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan.19. The Knights are 3-0-0-1 against the Otters this season. The two clubs have played in a couple of wild contests, comining for 10 goals in two periods in Erie on Oct. 26. Then both teams closed the door and no one scored again until the shootout, which the Otters won.

Less than a week later, Connor McMichael had six points in a 7-6 overtime win by London. McMichael tied the game with 1:05 remaining and scored the winner 3:04 into OT.

Coverage of the game between the Knights and Wolves begins at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app. The pre-game show will get underway at 1:30 for the game between London and Erie.

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