London Knights rookie goaltender Brett Brochu earned his 10th-consecutive victory on Sunday afternoon as the Knights knocked off the Guelph Storm 4-2.
It was Super Hero day at Budweiser Gardens and Brochu continued to play as if he has a cape on his back. The 17-year old turned aside 29 Storm shots and made key saves at key times to keep London rolling. The Knights now have 11 wins in their past 12 games.
“It’s hard to explain how good he has been,” said London forward Tonio Stranges. “He’s been hot and that’s been good for the entire team.”
Since a loss to Kitchener on Dec. 28, Brochu has delivered victory after victory. He currently owns the second-best save percentage in the Ontario Hockey League and leads all rookie goalies in every category except for shutouts — and Brochu does have a pair of those.
He was helped by an early lead on Sunday and an excellent penalty-killing performance.
Knights co-captain Liam Foudy picked up his 16th goal of the season just 21 seconds into the game.
“It’s a big confidence booster. You always want to start off with the lead and scoring that quickly helped us and gave us momentum for the rest of the game,” Foudy said.
Foudy had a goal and an assist. Connor McMichael had two assists and stretched his latest point streak to 10 games.
London killed off all four Storm power plays that seemed to come at times when Guelph was applying all kinds of pressure. The Knights limited scoring chances on those man advantages to almost none.
“Our special teams play was huge tonight and killing off those penalties was huge,” said London forward Nathan Dunkley.
The Knights handed Guelph their 10th-straight loss and got some help in the standings from Ottawa and Mississauga to move closer to the top of the Western Conference.
The 67s defeated Saginaw 5-2 and the Steelheads came back to beat the Kitchener Rangers 5-4 in overtime. London is now tied with the Spirit for the second-best record in the West and just one point back of the Rangers for first overall. The Knights have at least one game in hand on both teams.
London celebrated Super Hero day by wearing their “Spider-Knight” uniforms that they used from 1994-2002.
How the goals were scored
Liam Foudy got the first goal of the game just 21 seconds into it as a Ryan Merkley shot hit a skate and deflected right to Foudy who wristed the puck into an open side on Guelph goalie Nico Daws. Foudy and Daws were teammates with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship that wrapped up Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic.
Markus Phillips put London ahead 2-0 with his first goal as a Knight just 41 seconds into the second period against the team he won an OHL title with last May.
The Storm quickly got that goal back on a wrist shot at the 3:25 mark of the second as he cut across the slot in the London zone.
Jonathan Gruden scored his third goal in two games and 21st of the year on a nice feed from Tonio Stranges and Nathan Dunkley that saw Dunkley tap a rink-wide feed from Stranges right to Gruden on the right side of the Guelph end. The goal came just 51 seconds after the goal by Hillis.
Guelph tightened things up on the scoreboard in the third period as forward Keegan Stevenson whacked a puck into the London net to make it 3-2.
Defenceman Alec Regula scored an empty-netter with less than a minute left to seal things for the Knights.
Brochu making case for Rookie of the Year
It will be hard to take the Emms Family award away from Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs but Knights goaltender Brett Brochu is certainly making a case. The Emms Family Award goes to the Ontario Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year and while Wright is just 15 years old and leads all rookies in scoring, Brochu is getting noticed for keeping pucks out of his net. He has become London’s go-to guy in the crease and currently sits number three overall in goals-against average and save percentage and number four in wins. The Tilbury, Ont., native also has a pair of shutouts. No other rookie goalie has that kind of a resume going. Statmaster Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow on Twitter) He broke down Brochu’s personal 10-game winning streak in which Brochu has allowed just 18 goals and has a goals-against average under two and save percentage above .940.
All-Star performances by former Knights
The NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis is filled with winners. They come from the fastest skater contest and the hardest shot contest and the difficult to comprehend shooting stars contest. Former London Knight Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks won that one in overtime over another former Knight in Mitch Marner. Matthew Tkachuk who along with Marner helped the Knights to win the Memorial Cup in 2016 came in third. Tkachuk also shone in the 3-on-3 competition on Saturday night as he scored twice and added four assists in helping the Pacific Division win the overall championship. Tkachuk was one of four finalists for All-Star MVP. It went to David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. Former London defenceman John Carlson was the runner-up to Shea Weber in the hardest shot competition.
Playdowns underway in Alliance Minor Midget
The Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs are expected to make some noise heading up to this year’s OHL Cup. They posted an unbeaten regular-season record at 25-0-8 and they are coached by former London Knight Danny Syvret and former Detroit Red Wing Jason Williams, who each have championship resumes. The Chiefs began Alliance playdowns with a 7-0 over Lambton. Game 2 of their six-point series takes place on Tuesday in Lambton. The London Jr. Knights opened their first playdown series with a 0-0 tie in Waterloo so they are tied at one point apiece.
The Knights will host the Windsor Spitfires on Friday, January 31 at Budweiser Gardens. The teams have split the first four games of their season series and three of those games have ended in 6-3 scores. London defeated the Spitfires 6-3 in the latest meeting and first one since the trade deadline. It took place in Windsor on January 23. Luke Evangelista and Nathan Dunkley each had a goal and two assists and Brett Brochu made 33 saves.
Coverage will start at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
London will be in Sarnia on February 1 at 4 p.m. The pre-game show can be heard beginning at 3:30.