The London Knights begin the 2022 pre-season Friday, Sept. 9 at home to the Sarnia Sting at Budweiser Gardens.
Last year both teams saw their seasons end earlier than they wanted them to. The Sting fell to the Windsor Spitfires in six games in the opening round of the playoffs while the Knights were pushed to seven games by the Kitchener Rangers but lost in overtime in Game 7.
The rosters for both teams are very similar. Each have excellent young talent and a few key veterans.
What that means is that the rivalry between the two clubs could grow into something very special over the next couple of seasons.
The teams will face each other again on Saturday, Sept. 10 in Sarnia, Ont., at 7 p.m.
The game can be heard at 980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
Knights sign Bowen
London drafted Zach Bowen in the fourth round of the 2022 OHL Priority Selection following an excellent season that saw the Kanata, Ont., native put up big numbers for both the Embrun Panthers of the EOJHL and the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the U18 Central Canada Hockey League. Bowen is known as a very quick goaltender who plays with incredible poise in the net. He becomes the fifth Ottawa-area player on the Knights roster.
Two players to watch on Sarnia
81 Max Namestnikov – the younger brother of former Knight Vladislav Namestnikov is no stranger to Budweiser Gardens. He was famous for blowing a great big green horn as a youngster as Vladislav and the Knights captured the Ontario Hockey League championship in 2012. Namestnikov recorded 40 points in his rookie year with the Sting and a quarter of those points came against London. He tends to find a whole other gear when he plays the Knights.
94 Porter Martone – Sarnia’s first-round pick in 2022 also has some OHL bloodlines. His dad Mike played for the Peterborough Petes in the mid-90s and scored the OHL championship winning goal in overtime in 1996 in Game 7 against the Guelph Storm. Porter was selected fifth overall and has the ability to grow into a dominant player in the league over the next few years.
Here is a look at each player currently on the Knights roster:
30 Brett Brochu – The reigning OHL Goaltender of the Year has two possible paths this season. He will attend training camp with the Vancouver Canucks and could wind up with a professional contract or he could return to the Knights for his overage season.
31 Zach Bowen – London’s 4th round selection in 2022 Bowen had a fantastic season as a 15-year-old playing in eastern Ontario. He split time between the Embrun Panthers of the EOJHL and the Ottawa Senators of the CCHL. His save percentage was over .930 for both teams.
80 Owen Willmore – Brochu’s injury late in 2021-22 gave Willmore a chance to show he could play in the OHL. The trade of Owen Flores has opened an even bigger door for Willmore. The St. Thomas native played six games for the Knights last year and spent the rest of the season with the St. Thomas Stars.
READ MORE: Sam O’Reilly officially joins London Knights
07 Easton Cowan – The former Elgin-Middlesex Chief is poised for a breakout year after dazzling with the Komoka Kings last season. Cowan had 34 points in 24 games in the GOJHL and had a goal and an assist in seven games with the Knights.
11 Liam Gilmartin – The big and versatile San Jose Sharks prospect is set for his second season in London, Ont. He played minor hockey in a Washington, MD., arena that had a Dale Hunter banner hanging in it.
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15 Abakar Kazbekov – Back after missing almost all of last season with a shoulder injury, Kazbekov has looked very good in training camp. Has an incredibly accurate shot.
16 Sean McGurn – Entering his overage year in the OHL after finishing 3rd in Knights scoring with 73 points. McGurn will attend Rookie Camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
23 Sam O’Reilly – The Knights 2nd round pick in 2022 brings offence and physicality to his game and hopes to model his game in the style of Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals.
29 Brody Crane – Suffered a nasty cut to his face in training camp when he was hit by a puck. The skilled forward who goes hard to the net will attend Rookie Camp with the New Jersey Devils.
37 Kaeden Johnston – Another 5th round selection by London in 2021, Johnston could easily be another steal. He was second in scoring on the Komoka Kings last year as a 16-year-old and showed very well in two games with the Knights.
39 Max McCue – The 19-year-old San Jose Sharks prospect has a great edge and swagger to his game. He will be counted on for offence and leadership after the departures of Luke Evangelista and Tonio Stranges.
43 Nicholas Yearwood – Hard work is something Yearwood credits for getting him to where he is. The 299th pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection had 32 points in 33 games with the Komoka Kings last year and played six games with the Knights.
57 Mathieu Paris – A 3rd round pick by London in 2021 Paris is considered by some scouting services to be a true steal in that draft. He had 40 points in 39 games last season for the St. Thomas Stars and played four games for the Knights.
67 Luca Testa – The Knights 1st round pick in 2022, Testa helped the St. Catharines Falcons to win the Sutherland Cup as a 15-year-old. He has been putting up points in training camp scrimmages.
70 Ruslan Gazizov – Entering his second year in the OHL Gazizov can bring fans out of their seats with moves like the one in training camp that saw him deke his way past the net only to bank the puck in off the goalie’s glove.
71 Ben Bujold – London’s 1st round pick in 2021 Bujold brings a wide range of skills into his second full season with the Knights. Makes plays at full speed.
73 William Nicholl – The Knights’s 3rd round pick in 2022 Nicholl was a point-per-game player for the U18 Ottawa Senators last year. He took his game to a new level after being cut from his bantam team.
86 Denver Barkey – One of the most dynamic players in the OHL Barkey helped Team Canada to win Gold at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and was named Canada’s Player of the Game in the championship final.
90 Landon Sim – Poised for a stellar second season after being selected in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues, the Glasgow, N.S., native plays with an edge and a never stop attitude that stands out on the ice.
03 Sam Dickinson – Acquired by the Knights from the Niagara Ice Dogs on August 31, Dickinson is considered one of the top defencemen in his age group. He brings high-end skill, size and poise to the position.
04 Isaiah George – After an impressive rookie season in London, Ont., that saw him often paired against other teams’ top lines, the New York Islanders selected George in the 4th round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
17 Ethan MacKinnon – The Londoner just kept getting better and better and was put in bigger and bigger situations in 2021-22. The 19-year-old will look to pick up right where he left off moving into this season.
21 Carsen Lloyd – A third round pick of London’s in 2021, Lloyd appeared in six games with the Knights last year as a 16-year-old and also put up an excellent season with the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL.
24 Logan Mailloux – The Montreal Canadiens first round pick in 2021 Mailloux was limited to 12 games last season due to injury and suspension. He had 3 goals and 9 points in those games and is poised for a big season in London.
28 Connor Federkow – One of the hardest hitters in major junior hockey, Federkow is entering his second full season with the Knights. The St. Catharines native has also played for Komoka and St. Thomas of the GOJHL.
45 Gerard Keane – The longest-serving current Knight Keane is a master of the little things that help teams to win. He will attend Rookie Camp with the Arizona Coyotes.
58 Bryce Montgomery – The Carolina Hurricanes prospect could win up in the pro ranks or back in the OHL as an overager. Montgomery’s grandmother marched with Martin Luther King.
59 Oliver Bonk – Bonk played a handful of games for the Knights last year. He won gold at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup as well and will now be a full-time OHLer who makes a big impact. Bonk is the son of former NHLer Radek Bonk.
92 Jackson Edward – Selected by the Boston Bruins in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft Edward can play the game any way you want to and excel. The Newmarket, Ont., native was actually a Bruins fan growing up.