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Knights fall to Saginaw in final road game of the regular season

A big second period from the Saginaw Spirit led them to a 9-3 victory over the London Knights on Saturday night in mid-Michigan.

With the win, the Spirit finished their 2021-22 season. They did not qualify for the post-season.

Mitchell Smith and Pavel Mintyukov led the way for the Spirit with four points apiece. Smith had a goal and three assists. Mityukov had four assists. Nick Wong and former Knight Dalton Duhart each scored twice in their final game in the Ontario Hockey League.

The pair was honoured before the game along with London forward and former Spirit captain Camaryn Baber. Baber played his entire OHL career with Saginaw before he was traded to the Knights on New Year’s Eve.

Baber was part of a long list of London players who did not dress for the game. Luke Evangelista, Sean McGurn, Tonio Stranges and Kirill Steklov were also on that list. Brett Brochu, Logan Mailloux and Abakar Kazebekov remained out of the Knights lineup with injuries.

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London jumped out in front to a 2-0 lead on goals by Liam Gilmartin and Ben Bujold, before Duhart scored a pair of goals 12 seconds apart to tie it. Landon Sim and Wong exchanged goals before the end of the period to send the game into the second period, tied 3-3.

That’s when Saginaw took hold and didn’t look back.

Josh Hannivan replaced Owen Flores in the Knight net after the sixth Spirit goal. The appearance was the first in the OHL for Hannnivan who is from London, Ont., and played this season with the U18 London Jr. Knights.

Kaeden Johnston also made his OHL debut for the Knights. Johnston spent this year with the Komoka Kings.

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Knights and Rangers ready

London and Kitchener will open their Western Conference quarter-final series on Thursday, Apr. 21 at 7 pm at Budweiser Gardens. The first two games will be in London, Ont., before the series shifts to Kitchener, Ont., for the next two.

Should the series go to a Game 5 there would be a five day break between games. Much of that is due to the OHL Priority Selection being held Apr. 29-30.

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Schedule:

Game 1 – Apr. 21 – Kitchener at London – 7 pm

Game 2 – Apr. 22 – Kitchener at London – 7 pm

Game 3 – Apr. 24 – London at Kitchener – 2 pm

Game 4 – Apr. 26 – London at Kitchener – 7 pm

Game 5 – May 1 – Kitchener at London – 2 pm* if necessary

Game 6 – May 3 – London at Kitchener – 7 pm* if necessary

Game 5 – May 4 – Kitchener at London – 7 pm* if necessary

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One spot left

The final day of the OHL regular season will decide the final playoff teams out of the 16 whose seasons will carry on past Apr. 17. It has come down to the Sarnia Sting and the Erie Otters. Erie must get at least one point out of their game with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Hamilton has already clinched first overall in the league standings.

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If the Otters lose the Sting will automatically snag the 8th seed in the Western Conference. If Erie wins then Sarnia will be forced to beat the Knights in the game that gets underway at 4 pm to jump past the Otters in the standings. If Erie were to earn a single point and have the Sting lose, or if the Otters win and Sarnia earns a single point then Erie and the Sting would meet in a one-game playoff for the final playoff spot.

Major junior teams cannot be eliminated on statistical tiebreakers.

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Up next

London will play their final game of the 2021-22 regular season on Sunday, Apr. 17 at 4 pm against the Sarnia Sting at Budweiser Gardens. While the game could decide Sarnia’s playoff fate, the Knights will use it as a final tune-up before their first round series with the Kitchener Rangers begins.

Coverage starts at 3:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

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