Nathan Dunkley, Connor McMichael and Matvey Guskov scored goals and Dylan Myskiw made 33 saves as the London Knights defeated the Attack 3-1 in Owen Sound on Saturday night.
The win was London’s sixth in a row and allowed them to maintain a five-point lead over the Saginaw Spirit atop the Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference with two weeks to go in the regular season.
London is now seven points ahead of the Kitchener Rangers for first place in the Midwest Division and a guarantee of either the first or second seed in the West.
The Knights survived a seven-shot barrage and some heavy early pressure from Owen Sound through the first few minutes of the game and kept the score 0-0. Dylan Myskiw was called on to make a couple of saves in tight and did.
The only goal of the opening period came late as Ben Roger sent Nathan Dunkley and Tonio Stranges away on a 2-on-1 into Attack territory. Dunkley used Stranges as a decoy and wired a shot high over the glove of Mack Guzda and into the Owen Sound net to make it 1-0 for London.
As the teams played 4-on-4 in the second period, the trio of Ryan Merkley, Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael put on a display of keep-away and then finished with a gorgeous three-way passing play that went from Merkley to Foudy and left McMichael with a tap-in at the side of the Attack net for his 46th goal of the season and 101st point. The goal also extended Foudy’s point streak to 17 games. The Scarborough, Ont., native has 32 points over that span.
Former Knight Segey Popov scored to make it 2-1 at the 3:28 mark of the third period as he found the puck in a scramble in front of the London net and put a backhand on goal that found its way through.
The score stayed that way until Owen Sound pulled the goalie for the extra attacker and Matvey Guskov hit the back of the net from the red line for his 15th goal of the year and what would be a 3-1 finish.
The Knights are now 26-3 since December 28 and 21-2 with former Attack defenceman Markus Phillips on their roster.
Jonathan Gruden missed the game after being cut by a skate on Friday against the Sarnia Sting. Gerard Keane was also out with an upper body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
London will play their third game in three days on Sunday evening when they face Londoner Brett Harrison and the Oshawa Generals at 6 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens.
Gruden injured against Sting
Knights forward Jonathan Gruden has racked up 30 goals in his first season in the Ontario Hockey League. On Friday night he was forced to count something a whole lot less fun. Gruden needed stitches to close a cut to his leg that he suffered when he was struck by the skate of Sarnia Sting goalie Ben Gaudreau in the first period. The Ottawa Senators prospect will be held out of games this weekend and will be re-evaluated on Monday. Gruden currently ranks third in Knights scoring this season with 30 goals and 66 points in 59 games.
The North Bay push
2019-20 has not been an easy season for the North Bay Battalion. They have been through unfamiliar transition and long rough patches but things have been looking up. North Bay has spent much of the year in the OHL basement and Stan Butler, the only coach and general manager the Battalion franchise has ever known, stepped away from the bench and moved into a support role in the team’s front office leaving former London Knight Adam Dennis at the GM helm and former Battalion forward Ryan Oulahen as the team’s head coach. The idea was to spend the remainder of the season gearing up for next year but North Bay suddenly finds themselves in a playoff race. The Battalion are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and only four points behind Kingston and Niagara who are tied for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Knights will finish out three games in three days on Sunday evening at Budweiser Gardens as they host the Oshawa Generals at 6 p.m.
London defeated the Generals 5-1 in Oshawa on Nov. 3 in Dylan Myskiw’s first start in a Knights uniform. Myskiw made 28 saves in that game and Jonathan Gruden recorded his first three-point game with three assists.
There is a chance that London could face former Knights goalie Jordan Kooy in that game. Kooy was traded to the Generals by the Sarnia Sting right before the trade deadline. He did not face London when he was with the Sting.
Coverage will start at 5:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.