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Flint Firebirds hand London Knights their first loss of the season

A second period power play goal by Riley Piercey ended up being the dagger that finished a perfect start to the season for the London Knights.

Piercey snuck a puck into the Knight net from in tight as the Flint Firebirds defeated London 3-2 on Saturday night in Flint, Mich.

The Knights played the game without captain Luke Evangelista who was battling flu symptoms. Evangelista is London’s leading scorer and has come up clutch time and again in the nine games he has played, scoring 11 goals and adding five assists.

Ruslan Gazizov also did not play as he awaits a visa that will allow him to travel across the Canada/U.S. border.

Read more: The London Knights are now 9-0-0 to start 2021-22

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London nearly had the game-tying goal late in the third period with goaltender Brett Brochu on the bench for an extra attacker. A shot by Isaiah George deflected and got behind Firebirds goalie Luke Cavallin, but a replay ruled Cavallin was able to keep the puck from crossing the goal line.

The Knights may not commit the final score to memory but they did save a couple of pucks from the game as both Liam Gilmartin and Denver Barkey notched their first Ontario Hockey League goals.

After Tyler Deline had put Flint ahead 1-0 in the first period, Gilmartin deflected a Ben Roger point shot in for his first goal to tie the game 1-1. Then Max McCue set up Barkey and he wired a shot high to give the Knights a 2-1 second period lead.

Flint rookie Luca D’Amato tied the game 2-2 on a sharp-angled shot at 8:12 of the second period and then Piercey potted the winner with 2:29 to go in the middle frame.

The shots in the game were even at 26-26.

Read more: Russian forward Ruslan Gazizov has arrived

Matching the Team of the Century

Like the 1972 Miami Dolphins do every year an NFL team has their perfect record ended, the 2004-05 London Knights can look back at their season-starting winning streak and know that the record is still safe.

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Flint’s win kept the 2021-22 Knights from matching the Team of the Century for their perfect 10-0-0 start.

That team featured the likes of Corey Perry, Dave Bolland, Danny Syvret, Marc Methot, Rob Schremp and Dylan Hunter. They saw their perfect stretch end in a tie with the Mississauga IceDogs in their 11th game of the year.

Patrick O’Sullivan knotted the game up with 1:03 remaining in regulation time. Overtime solved nothing that night and it was the final season played without shootouts.

Read more: Western Mustangs shut door in 2nd half to win Yates Cup quarter-final

The Brochu of the Month Club

London goalie Brett Brochu earned Ontario Hockey League Goaltender of the Month honours for the third month in a row.

Of course, the awards were separated by 15 months without OHL hockey. Brochu was named the league’s top netminder in January and February of 2020 before the COViD-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 season, and then he picked up the first goaltending nod of 21-22 thanks to a stellar start for both himself and the Knights.

The Tilbury, Ont., native played every minute in the Knight net and posted a 2.07 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage as London went 8-0-0 in October.

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Read more: Meet the 2021-22 London Knights

Up next

The first meeting of the season between the Knights and the Guelph Storm will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens. Guelph has shown early in the year that they can score goals.

They are led by Sasha Pastujov, who was a star for Team USA at the Under-18 World Junior Championship in Texas last summer and has rolled from day one of his OHL career.

Pastujov has 12 goals in 13 games for the Guelph.

The game will also feature the Knights’ annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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