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Fifth Connor McMichael hat trick leads to 799th Dale Hunter win

London Knights defenceman Alec Regula gets knocked to the ice after scoring what would end up as the game-winning goal in a 6-2 London victory over the Erie Otters on Jan. 19, 2020.
London Knights defenceman Alec Regula gets knocked to the ice after scoring what would end up as the game-winning goal in a 6-2 London victory over the Erie Otters on Jan. 19, 2020. Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

Another big day against Erie by Connor McMichael led the London Knights to a third-consecutive victory Sunday afternoon at Budweiser Gardens.

McMichael had three goals and an assist in London’s 6-2 win over the Otters. In total, the Washington Capitals prospect now has 16 points in five games against Erie this season with one game left to go between the teams. McMichael also has five hat tricks in 2019-20, which is the most since Patrick Kane had seven in 2006-07.

“They are a pretty big rival of ours so it makes it easy to get up for games against them,” said McMichael.

The win by London gave Knights head coach Dale Hunter his 799th career victory.

London has won eight of their past nine games and sit four points behind Kitchener for the best record in the Western Conference with two games in hand on the Rangers.

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Chad Yetman’s 25th goal of the season opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game as he snagged a giveaway in the London zone and wristed it into the net.

McMichael tied the game at the 12:07 mark of the first period on a power play as the Knights found a way to solve the OHL’s top penalty-killing unit. McMichael took a feed from Liam Foudy and rifled a shot off the post and in behind Erie goalie Daniel Murphy for his 31st goal this year.

McMichael added a second goal in the second period as he banged in a Jason Willms rebound at 5:22.

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The Knights took a 2-1 lead into the third period. Alec Regula gave London some short-lived breathing room as he scored a power-play goal to make it 3-1 only to have Brendan Sellan come back with a goal for the Otters just 47 seconds later.

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McMichael completed his hat trick by tapping in a pretty three-way passing play that went from Liam Foudy to Billy Moskal and then to McMichael at the side of the Otter goal.

Luke Evangelista scored into an empty net with 1:22 remaining and then Max McCue scored his first OHL goal in the final minute of the game as he took a pass from Tonio Stranges, made a move in front of the net and tucked the puck past Murphy.

Evangelista ended the day with a goal and an assist for the Knights. Foudy picked up a pair of assists.

London went 2-for-4 on the power play, perfect on the penalty kill and outshot Erie 36-31.

The Knights will visit Windsor on Thursday.

READ MORE: Around the OHL: To trade or not to trade?

Dale Hunter is one win away from 800

Dale Hunter took over behind the London Knights bench in the 2001-02 season he had a very simple philosophy. “I just tried to remember what I didn’t like about all my coaches. Things that annoyed players. I decided I wouldn’t do any of that,” says Hunter. Mix in his knowledge of the game, his ability to read people and his willingness to act on “hunches” and he has become one of the best coaches behind any bench, anywhere. Dale Hunter is now one victory away from his latest milestone: 800 career wins. He has a chance to reach that mark on Jan. 23 when the Knights visit the Windsor Spitfires. Just as he was the fastest OHL coach in OHL history to get to 500 and 600 and 700 wins, Hunter will be the fastest to reach 800 as well. He ranks third all-time in OHL victories behind only the late Bert Templeton (907) and Brian Kilrea (1,193 wins). Hunter has Ontario Hockey League championships, Memorial Cups and now World Junior gold on his resume and he is far from finished.

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READ MORE: Patrick Kane honoured at Budweiser Gardens

Patrick Kane hits 1000 points

On Friday night Patrick Kane’s number 88 was put into the rafters at Budweiser Gardens with other London Knights greats. On Sunday Kane brought another number into focus when he 1000 career points in the National Hockey League in just 953 games played. For the second night in a row Kane assisted on a Brandon Saad goal as Chicago earned their fifth straight victory and that has them back in the playoff conversation in the NHL’s Western Conference. The Blackhawks are three points back of Arizona for the second wild card with a game in hand on the Coyotes.

READ MORE: Knights goalie suspended for 8 games over ‘inadvertent violation of anti-doping rule’: CHL

Up next

The Knights will play three games in four days starting Thursday, Jan. 23, when they go to Windsor. The teams have split a pair of 6-3 decisions this year and the Spitfires doubled up London 4-2 on Oct. 18.

The Knights will head back home for a game against Hamilton at Budweiser Gardens on Friday, Jan. 24, at 7:30. London blew out the Bulldogs 7-3 in late September when Connor McMichael had three goals and two assists against his former team.

On Sunday, Jan. 26, the Knights will host Guelph in an afternoon game at Budweiser Gardens. The puck will drop at 2 p.m.

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Coverage of all three games can be heard on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.