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A five-point night for Tonio Stranges leads London Knights to 8-5 win

Tonio Stranges scored twice and added three assists as the London Knights knocked off the Saginaw Spirit 8-5 on Friday night in London, Ont.

Stranges has racked up 11 points in his past three games and 18 points in 10 games since signing his first professional contract with the Dallas Stars.

With London down 3-2 in the second period and London on a power play, Stranges skated from his own zone into centre ice, deked to the inside at the Spirit blue line and then pulled a hot-knife-through-butter move to cut between two defenders and snap a shot under the blocker of Andrew Oke to tie the game.

After former Saginaw captain Camaryn Baber put the Knights ahead one minute and one second later, Stranges struck again for his 27th of the season, as he sizzled a wrist shot past Oke to finish the night in net for the first-year Spirit goaltender.

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The teams traded goals in the first period with Ruslan Gazizov and Sean McGurn scoring for London and Nick Wong and Matyas Sapovaliv replying for Saginaw.

The Spirit came out flying in the second period and jumped ahead 3-2 when their first round pick in 2021, Luke McNamara scored for the third time at Budweiser Gardens.

That’s when Stranges and the Knights took the lead back, but Saginaw still made it interesting in the final 20 minutes.

The Spirit cut the London lead to a single goal twice before the final horn sounded. First Calem Mangone made it 5-4.

Stranges then added his second assist on Luke Evangelista’s 48th goal of the year to make it 6-4.

Again the Spirit came back to within one courtesy of defenceman Pavel Mintyukov.

Tye McSorley tipped in a Luke Evangelista shot at 11:31 to get the lead back to a pair and Knights defenceman Gerard Keane scored into an empty net to finish a baker’s dozen on the scoreboard.

Evangelista and McGurn each ended the game with a goal and two assists.

London outshot Saginaw 26-22.

The Knights now lead the season series between the two clubs 3-0.

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Read more: London Knights: Back in time — May 11 (Part 1)

Goals, goals, goals

If you picture what the end of a day is like after very little sleep you know how OHL teams have been feeling as they get to the end of March. Putting the milk away in the stove kind of tired.

The game against the Spirit was London’s tenth in 18 days. They will play 15 and 30 by the first of April and that will be no joke. Lots of games and little practice have been leading to some high scores in OHL games.

Five games were played on March 16 and they averaged nearly nine total goals. OHL teams are averaging 7.32 goals per game this season. Four games on March 14 averaged 7.75 goals scored.

Read more: Wild third period leads to Storm shootout win over London Knights

Points, points, points

The line of Sean McGurn, Luke Evangelista and Tonio Stranges was reunited when the Knights faced the Sarnia Sting on March 13. They combined to score the game winner.

The next night against the Saginaw Spirit Stranges and Evangelista had two goals and two assists and McGurn chipped in a goal and an assist. Not done there the line combined for nine points against Guelph when Stranges scored two goals, McGurn added a goal and two assists and Evangelista recorded four assists.

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They managed to top that with 11 combined points against the Spirit. Do the math and in three games the line produced 13 goals and 33 points in their last four games which came over a six day span.

Read more: Evangelista and Stranges have four-point nights in London win over Saginaw

Up next

Another Sunday means another trip to Sarnia, Ont. The Knights will face the Sting on March 20 for the ninth of ten meetings between the teams. Last Sunday Owen Willmore earned his first Ontario Hockey League victory in net for London when Sean McGurn scored the game winning goal against the Sting with 21.1 seconds remaining in regulation time.

Sarnia has won five of the eight meetings in the season series.

The Sting are battling against the Kitchener Rangers and the Erie Otters for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Coverage begins at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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