This is part of an ongoing series in which we look back on amazing moments in London Knights history. Each day, we’ll bring you a new memory leading up to the anniversaries of the team’s Memorial Cup championships in 2005 and 2016.
The Memorial Cup is a tournament at which anything can happen.
Teams can come in on a roll and fall flat.
Others can do what the Windsor Spitfires did in 2009 in Rimouski, Que., and stretch themselves to the brink of elimination, only to come all the way back and win.
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However the math that the Memorial Cup makes use of can sometimes be as easy as 1-2-3.
Win one of your round-robin games and you are guaranteed to play at least a tie-breaker. Win two games and you are guaranteed a spot in the semi-final.
Go unbeaten against everyone else and you earn a bye straight through to the final.
Both tournaments that have been held in London, Ont., went exactly that way, but sometimes the mathematics jump up to an algebraic level.
The tipping point is usually four games in when each team has played twice. Unless you have an unbeaten club and a winless club you can get into a whole lot of “if this, then this” scenarios.
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That’s exactly the situation that played out on May 22, 2012 in Shawinigan, Que., as the London Knights headed into their last round-robin game against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Knights had beaten Saint John 5-3 and had lost to the host Cataractes 6-2 up to that point. When you tossed those outcomes into a pot with the other two results you got a really goupy soup.
All four teams were tied for first place with a 1-1 record.
And all four teams were also technically tied for last place with that same 1-1 record.
Two games remained to boil away the confusion and determine who would get the bye to the championship game.
All four teams needed to win and then get some help.
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The scenario for the Knights was as complex as a Hypatian theorem. First, the had to defeat the champions of the Western Hockey League from Edmonton and then second, London needed to have the Saint John Sea Dogs knock off Shawinigan a night later.
If both of those boxes were checked, the Knights would go straight through to the Memorial Cup final. Anything else and they could be anywhere from a semi-final to a tiebreaker playing for their lives.
Matt and Ryan Rupert made sure that London was ready to take care of their end of the equation.
The Rupert twins had been drawing attention for their effort and all-out aggressiveness during the tournament and they went bursting out against the Oil Kings as Matt set up Ryan for the game’s first goal just 1:17 after the opening faceoff.
London went ahead 2-0 on a goal by Bo Horvat roughly ten minutes later and they held tight to the momentum despite a late goal from Oil Kings defence man Keegan Lowe (son of former Edmonton Oiler Kevin Lowe) that came inside the final three seconds of the opening period.
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Greg McKegg put the Knights back in front by a pair with a goal in the second period that was assisted by Max Domi and London goaltender Michael Houser who also stopped 20 of 21 Edmonton shots.
The Knights stifled the Oil Kings the rest of the way as they held Edmonton to just six shots in the third period and got an empty-net goal from Austin Watson to complete a 4-1 victory.
The next night London got the help they were hoping for from Strathroy, Ont. native Nathan Beaulieu and his Saint John Sea Dogs as they defeated the Cataractes 4-1. Beaulieu, whose father Jacques was an assistant coach with the Knights 2005 Memorial Cup championship team had two assists.
The math added up in London’s favour. As young and as inexperienced as they might have been, they clinched first place and a bye right through to the championship.