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Liam Gilmartin’s five-point game leads the London Knights over Sault Ste. Marie

Liam Gilmartin is six-feet-two-inches tall and 190 pounds and he filled every inch and pound of that frame on Friday night, leading the London Knights to an 8-5 victory over visiting Sault Ste. Marie.

Gilmartin recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist for the Knights who have now won six of their last eight games.

The teams were meeting for the second time in 2021-22 and so far they have combined for 24 goals in those two games, both victories by London.

Jack Thompson of the Greyhounds opened the scoring in front of 4,500 fans at Budweiser Gardens as he raced into the Knights end and snapped a low shot into the net at 13:51 of the opening period, but Gilmartin got that back before the horn sounded as he took a slick pass from London forward Tonio Stranges and backhanded a puck past Tucker Tynan in the Sault Ste. Marie net.

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Tynan was playing in his first game against the Knights since sustaining a serious laceration to his leg on December 12, 2019 when he was a member of the Niagara IceDogs.

Tynan was a teammate of Stranges with the U16 Little Caesar’s team from Michigan and while Tynan stopped five of the six shots Stranges fired in his direction. Stranges snuck one by while standing in the right corner of the Greyhounds zone to give London a 2-1 lead just 2:08 into the second period.

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That goal came seconds after Stranges tried the “Michigan” after he corralled the puck on his stick from behind the Sault Ste. Marie net and just missed tucking the puck into the top corner.

Brody Crane converted on a bang-bang play as Ruslan Gazizov put a puck in front and Crane buried it for his sixth goal of the season and a 3-1 Knights lead.

Liam Gilmartin made it 4-1 just one minute and 33 seconds later as he deflected in an Ethan MacKinnon wrist shot.

Gilmartin cashed in on an individual effort to complete his first Ontario Hockey League hat trick just 1:45 after that and it was five one and gave London three goals in a 3:18 span.

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The Greyhounds have become known as a team that will not go away easily and they didn’t.

Londoner Bryce McConnell-Barker ripped a shot past Brett Brochu with just two and a half minutes remaining in the second period to lift Sault Ste. Marie a goal closer going to the third period.

The Greyhounds got a goal closer than that on a power play just over three minutes into the final period when Jack Thompson hammered a slap shot into the Knight net to make it 5-3.

With Sault Ste. Marie on another man advantage, Kirill Steklov came up large in his own zone by blocking a shot standing at the London crease that could have found its way inside the right post and tightened London’s lead to one.

Instead, the Knights killed off the rest of the penalty and then Stranges gave them back some breathing room as he put a puck behind Tynan on a 2-on-1 and London’s lead was back to three near the eight-minute mark of the third.

Knights defenceman Gerard Keane took a Gilmartin pass 42 seconds later and made it 7-3 London as he gave the Knights their second four-goal lead of the game.

Read more: Ella Shelton is bringing Olympic gold back to Ingersoll, Ont.

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Again, the Greyhounds made it interesting with two goals from veteran Rory Kerins to get back to within a pair, but Camaryn Baber beat out an icing call and fed Luke Evangelista for Evangelista’s 35th goal of the season and his 10th into an empty net.

Evangelista finished the game with a goal and two assists, Stranges had two goals and two assists.

London outshot Sault Ste. Marie 34-29.

Scheduling changes

The Ontario Hockey League announced on Feb. 18 that its regular season schedule was going to be extended later into the month of April to allow for the rescheduling of postponed games earlier in the year. The London Knights will play seven games in April and will actually play a game against an Eastern Conference opponent.

The OHL had laid out its 2021-22 schedule to try to limit long trips and top-play geographic rivals as often as possible and that left the Knights only playing other teams from the Western Conference. London will now visit the Barrie Colts on Saturday, April 2.

The Knights will play their 68th and final game on Sunday, April 17, at home against the Sarnia Sting. The OHL playoffs will begin on Thursday, April 21 and will consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series.

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Knights sign Kaeden Johnston

After a strong showing at Knights training camp and an excellent season with the Komoka Kings, Kaeden Johnston is officially a London Knight.

The Peterborough, Ont., native signed a standard players agreement with London on Feb. 17. Johnston was a fifth-round pick of the Knights in 2021 and is known for being a very smart player with great awareness of everything happening on the ice.

Johnston also owns a terrific scoring touch as evidenced by his 16 goals and 31 points  in 33 games this season for the Kings. Komoka sits just two points out of third place in the GOJHL’s Western Conference and only four points out of 2nd place.

Latest Knights 50/50 runs to Monday

The London Knights and the London Knights Alumni Foundation kicked off their latest 50/50 draw on Feb. 16 when London defeated the Guelph Storm 4-2. The draw will continue to be open throughout Family Day weekend through to the end of the second period of their game against the Kitchener Rangers on Family Day itself.

Tickets can be purchased at knights5050.com

Read more: London Knights double up Guelph Storm 4-2 in mid-week matchup

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Up next

London is right back to work on Saturday, Feb. 19 in Erie, Pa., against the Otters. The game will mark the Knights second trip to Erie and first since November 13 when Brody Crane, Denver Barkey, Tonio Stranges and Cody Morgan all had three-point efforts in a 7-4 Knights victory.

London is 3-0 against the Otters this year having defeated them 4-1 and 6-2 at Budweiser Gardens. This will be the final regular season meeting between the clubs.

Coverage will begin at 6:30 on 980 CFPL at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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