Colton Smith scored twice and Brett Brochu made 31 saves in net as the London Knights knocked off the Windsor Spitfires 5-1 on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.
The game drew the largest crowd the building had seen since March 8, 2020 at 7,812 fans, following the change to capacity limits in the province of Ontario that was made on Oct. 8.
The game gave the Knights their fourth consecutive victory to start the season.
Smith ended the game between London and Windsor on Thanksgiving Monday in the eighth round of a shootout and then started the scoring four days later with a wicked snap shot that beat Xavier Medina just 3:15 into the opening period.
The Spitfires thought they had tied it minutes later after a shot went high and deflected off the glass and over the Knight net and dropped in the crease. The puck went off the skate of Daniel D’Amico and into the London net but the goal was waved off on the ice and then reviewed and disallowed. That allowed London to take a 1-0 lead to the dressing room through 20 minutes.
Smith picked up his second goal of the night and second of the season as he finished off a passing play in tight. Brodie Crane’s shot was stopped by Medina but Max McCue grabbed the rebound and slid it across the crease where Smith banged it in. to make it 2-0. The goal gave Crane his first point in the OHL.
Daniel D’Amico scored for Windsor just 47 seconds later to cut the London lead in half and then Stuart Rolofs connected on the power play at 9:43 for his third goal in three games for the Knights and they led 3-1.
Luke Evangelista used a pretty backhand pass to find Max McCue and the San Jose Sharks prospect scored his first of the season to give London a three goal lead heading into the final period.
Sean McGurn scored the lone goal of the third period as he cut out from behind the Windsor net and slipped a low shot under Medina for his first goal of the year that counted in the statistics. McGurn had the shootout winner for London in their opening night victory over Owen Sound.
Brett Brochu was his rock-solid self in goal with 31 saves. London outshot the Spitfires 37-33.
The Knights were perfect on the penalty kill, takin care of all three Windsor opportunities on the man advantage.
There were 35 former London Knights players on National Hockey League rosters to open the season. Two were on the inactive list. Gemel Smith has a lower body injury and was not able to start the season on the ice in Tampa Bay and Tyler Parsons was “unable to satisfy quarantine restrictions” with the Calgary Flames.
There are five ex-Knights on the Ottawa Senators in Chris Tierney, Austin Watson, Victor Mete, Alex Formenton and Michael Del Zotto and every former OHLer on the Columbus Blue Jackets played in London or the London area in Max Domi, Adam Boqvist, Scott Harrington and Boone Jenner who is from Mossley, Ont.
Read more: Meet the 2021-22 London Knights
Watching the prospects
Both Easton Cowan and Kaeden Johnston are off to fast starts with the Komoka Kings. Cowan played the entire pre-season with the Knights where he scored three goals and added two assists in five games. Cowan was a 2nd round pick of London’s in 2021 from Mount Brydges, Ont. He played his minor hockey wth the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs and has a highlight-reel goal and three assists in four games with the Kings.
Johnston is tied with Carter McIlwain for the Komoka team lead in points. He has nine in six games. Johnston is from Peterborough and was selected by the Knights in the 5th round of the 2021 OHL Priority Selection.
Where is the Spirit?
The 2021-22 Ontario Hockey League season is officially more than a week old and so far the Saginaw Spirit are still waiting to play. The three American-based OHL teams stick to a schedule that keeps them in the United States for nearly the first month of the season.
The Erie Otters and Flint Firebirds have played each other twice but without a dance partner for Saginaw, the Spirit have been left sitting. That will change on Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17 when Saginaw is home for back-to-back meetings with Erie.
The Knights head to Sarnia to meet the Sting on Saturday (Oct. 16) in the first of 10 meetings between the two clubs this season. London and Sarnia kicked off the OHL pre-season back on Sept. 3 and 4. Both teams the road game of the home-and-home series which is a trend the Knights will try to continue.
The Sting are coming off a 5-1 loss to the Kitchener Rangers on Friday. Zach Filak scored the lone goal for Sarnia.
The pre-game show will begin at 6:30 on Saturday on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.