Sometimes numbers don’t add up. They don’t need to when there’s good goaltending.
The London Knights outshot Sarnia 51-13 on Sunday afternoon but it was the Sting who walked away with a 4-2 victory.
San Jose Sharks prospect Ben Gaudreau made 49 saves in a performance that allowed Sarnia to hand London their first loss of 2022.
Gaudreau demonstrated why the Sting made him the seventh overall pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, as he robbed London shooters by lunging across the crease or making two and three saves in succession.
London fired 13 shots at Gaudreau in the first period, 15 in the second period, then 23 more in the third.
Two of Gaudreau’s biggest stops were carbon copies of each other as he came across in the splits to make a save on London forward Brody Crane in the opening period and on Tonio Stranges in the second.
Meanwhile deflections did a great deal of damage for Sarnia at the other end of the ice.
A tipped puck put Sarnia in front 1-0 as Chandler Romeo’s wrist shot from the left-point went off the stick of Nolan Dann at 16:07 of the first period.
London killed off two Sting power plays in the opening 20 minutes. They were under five seconds from going to the dressing room as they worked their way through a third penalty kill, but Max Namestnikov and Angus MacDonell beat the buzzer as Namestnikov fed a pass to MacDonell for his second career OHL goal with 3.1 seconds left on the clock to make it 2-0.
The Sting went ahead by three just 56 seconds into the second period on another deflection as an Alexis Daviault shot went in off Theo Hill.
The Knights forced their way onto the scoreboard on a power play at 4:35 of the third period as Sean McGurn went to the net, deked to the backhand and scored his seventh goal of the year.
Just 1:14 later Sarnia got that goal back as Ty Voit sent Nolan Burke in alone to make it 4-1.
Wi the London net empty late in the game Knights defenceman Logan Mailloux blasted home a one-time to finish the scoring on the day, giving him three goals in his first three games this year.
The Sting now lead the season series between the teams 4-2 and have won four straight, The clubs still have two postponed games to make up but are not due to see each other again until March 13.
Eight London Knights appeared in the latest National Hockey League Central scouting rankings. That total was two more players than any other team in the Canadian Hockey League.
The Swift Current Broncos had six players on the list. The Guelph Storm and North Bay Battalion each had five. The highest rated Knight is defenceman Isaiah George at number 42 followed by Ruslan Gazizov (62), Jackson Edward (75), Colton Smith (129), Brody Crane (188), Kirill Steklov (196) and Landon Sim (213).
London goaltender Brett Brochu was ranked 16th among North American goaltenders.
As the Ontario Hockey League schedule unfolded on Sunday, every team that was supposed to play was able to hit the ice. It marked the first time since December 15 that the full slate of games were able to go without a postponement. It was also the first time since December 11 that a schedule with more than three games on it was completed without at least one game called off due to COViD-19 protocols. The Knights have missed seven regularly scheduled games to be made up at later dates.
One rescheduled game
London was supposed to be in Erie, Pa., to kick off the New Year on Jan. 1 against the Otters but the game was postponed due to COViD-19 protocols. It has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 19 at 7 pm. London has played Erie twice this year and has won both games by a combined score of 11-5. The teams will see each other twice more before the end of the season.
If all goes according to plan the Knights will play three games in two and a half days starting Jan. 21 against the Erie Otters at Budweiser Gardens at 7:30. London will face the Guelph Storm the next night in the first of a home-and-home with the Storm that will conclude back at Budweiser Gardens on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 2 pm.
The Knights are 2-0 against the Otters and 0-3 against the Storm so far this season.
Coverage of all three games can be heard on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.