“Sweet Caroline” echoed around the Erie Insurance Arena as the Erie Otters left the ice with a 3-1 victory over the London Knights in their 2022-23 home opener.
The Otters scored twice in the first period on goals by Sam Alfano and Kaleb Smith and an insurance marker in the second period from defenceman Spencer Sova.
Sean McGurn scored the lone goal for London in a game that saw young players log a whole lot of ice time, espcially on defence where the Knights were without four veteran defencemen with Isaiah George, Bryce Montgomery and Gerard Keane out with injuries and Logan Mailloux still at training camp with the Montreal Canadiens.
Sixteen-year-old Sam Dickinson led the Knights with four shots on goal in the game and was a fixture at even strength and on both special teams.
Erie improved to 1-2-0-2 on the year. London remained with the Kitchener Rangers as the two teams left looking for their first wins on the year following the victory by the Otters and a 5-2 Guelph Storm win over the Niagara IceDogs on Saturday.
The Knights outshot Erie 29-27.
You can never have too many defencemen
London began the season with nine defencemen on their roster which sounds like a couple too many. However it took exactly two games to show having that many players around is not a bad thing.
As the Knights met the Otters on Saturday night they were down to just five available defenders due to injuries to Isaiah George (lower body), Gerard Keane (upper body) and Bryce Montgomery (lower body). The D-corps that played in Erie, Pa., entered the game with just 171 total games of OHL experience.
Markus Phillips goes to Finland
Markus Phillips played only part of one season with the Knights in 2019-20, but he left a very quick and lasting impression. Affectionately known as “Uncle Phil” the Los Angeles Kings draft pick was an immense veteran presence in the dressing room and away from the rink and was a steadying factor in games.
Phillips turned pro in 20-21 and spent two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Ontario Reign and the Manitoba Moose and made the decision at the start of this year to head to Europe where he has joined Assat of the Finnish Elite League.
The London will host the Mississauga Steelheads at Budweiser Gardens on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.
The game will mark just the second time the Knights will have played a team from the Eastern Conference, dating back to March 8, 2020 when London defeated the Oshawa Generals 3-1 just days before the Ontario Hockey League announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Knights were supposed to stay exclusively in the Western Conference for games in 2021-22, but after the schedule was reconfigured to accommodate some postponements London wound up with a late season trip to Barrie as their only game against an Eastern team all year.
Coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.