The London Knights killed off 19 minutes in penalties and got the game winner, short-handed from captain Luke Evangelista as they edged the Owen Sound Attack 2-1 on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.
The victory gave the Knights their sixth victory in a row to start the year, which now sits as their best start to a season since the 29-0-2 Canadian Hockey League record-setting beginning in 2004-2005. London started the year 5-0 in 2011-12.
The reigning Ontario Hockey League goaltender of the week, Brett Brochu, came up big again, making nine saves in the first 10 minutes of the game against an Attack team that came out hungry and angry after a loss in Windsor the night before, which saw Owen Sound give up five goals in the third period.
Brochu made 36 saves total and was named the game’s first star.
If special teams are key to a team’s success, then they help to explain some of what London has been doing so far. The Knights own the league’s best power play and sit third overall in penalty kill and it was the players who killed penalties against the Attack, who contributed in a large way.
London killed off three Owen Sound power plays in the opening period and then a 5-on-3 and a double minor for high-sticking to Evangelista in the second period and then a five-minute major to Brodie Crane in the third period to keep the Attack off the scoreboard with the extra man.
The power play found the back of the net for the Knights when Cody Morgan scored his very first goal as a member of the Knights. The puck got to the Owen Sound net where Sean McGurn took a whack, Colton Smith got in a stab and then Morgan hit paydirt as he flipped it across the goal line past big, six-foot-four-inch Mack Guzda to break a scoreless tie just 49 seconds into period two.
Rookie Attack forward Colby Barlow evened the score standing to the right of the London net later in the same period. The puck found Barlow and he fired home his fourth goal of the year to make it 1-1 at the 8:32 mark.
The Attack scored inside the first two minutes of the third period but the goal was reviewed and disallowed because it was ruled that Brochu had been interfered with trying to get back to his crease after leaving it to play the puck and had no chance to reset himself before Denis Goure fired the puck into the net from the right side.
Just seconds after that, with London still down a man, Sean McGurn got to a puck in his own zone and flipped it ahead to Evangelista, who went in alone and deposited the puck under Guzda for the eventual game winner.
Overall the Knights were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and 1-for-4 on the man advantage.
Owen Sound outshot London 37-30 on the night.
The teams will meet for the fourth time in the first seven Knights games on October 27 in Owen Sound.
London and Kitchener are the last remaining teams in the OHL. The Rangers edged the Spitfires 3-2 in a shootout on Friday.
Brochu picks up first award of 21-22
If he maintains the pace he is on already London goaltender Brett Brochu could need a bigger trophy case this year.
Brochu was named OHL goaltender of the week. He was in net for a shootout win, a regulation win and a victory in overtime to help push the Knights record to 5-0-0. The Tilbury, Ont. native even picked up an assist. His goaltender numbers were excellent as he stopped 88 of 96 shots for a goals against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .923.
Brochu attended rookie camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins this fall and continues to get attention from scouts for the way that he competes every night in the London crease.
Up a spot in the rankings
The Knights jumped up to 5th in the weekly Canadian Hockey League rankings. They were 6th in the first list to come out after the OHL season kicked off. Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts sit in the top spot. They are 6-1 and have allowed just 11 goals in 7 games.
The high-scoring Winnipeg Ice of the Western Hockey League are ranked 2nd. Winnipeg has outscored their opponents 53-13 so far in 21-22 and they are averaging 6.6 goals for per game. The 6-1 Acadie-Bathurst Titan round out the top-3. They are 6-1 and led offensively by Montreal Canadiens draft pick Riley Kidney who has 14 points already in 8 games.
Read more: Meet the 2021-22 London Knights
Londoner Drew Doughty and former London Jr. Knight and Elgin-Middlesex Chief Jared McCann are racking up points to start the 21-22 National Hockey League season.
Doughty has seven points in just three games for the Los Angeles Kings and McCann is holding down the number-one centre spot for the expansion Seattle Kraken and is averaging a point per game through his first five times on the ice.
Doughty is in his 14th NHL season and has won two Stanley Cups with the Kings. McCann played six seasons in Vancouver, Florida and Pittsburgh before being selected by Seattle in the 2021 NHL Expansion draft. He was the Alliance Player of the Year in 2012.
Take a look at the Ontario Hockey League schedule for the rest of the weekend and you won’t find the London Knights on it. The Knights will be off until Wednesday when, for the fourth time in seven games, they will face the Owen Sound Attack, this time back in Owen Sound.
London defeated the Attack 4-3 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre Oct. 9 on a goal by Abakar Kazbekov that came with just 4:18 remaining in regulation time.
Broadcast time is 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca or on the Radioplayer Canada app.
The Knights next home game will be October 29 at 7:30 pm against the Sarnia Sting. Tickets can be purchased at 519-681-0800, in person at the Knights Armouries or the box office or online anytime at www.londonknights.com