London Knights sweep home-and-home series against Saginaw

George Diaco scored twice and added an assist as the London Knights defeated the Saginaw Spirit 7-4 to win both games between the teams over the span of two nights.

London came back from a 2-0 deficit on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens to edge the Spirit 4-3 and kept the offence rolling on Saturday as they poured four pucks into the Saginaw net in the first period alone.

The game also saw Zach Bowen make his first OHL start and record his first OHL win as he made 14 saves on the night.

Jim Van Horne / 980 CFPL

The scoring started just 2:47 into the game when Diaco took a gorgeous feed from Ryan Del Monte on a power play for his first, then followed that up with a breakaway goal just under ten minutes later and London led 2-0. Diaco set up Logan Mailloux for his first of the season before the first 20 minutes was up. Denver Barkey and Easton Cowan combined on a cross-ice give-and-go that Barkey finished by beating Andrew Oke for his third goal of the season.

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Matyas Sapovaliv scored short-handed for Saginaw in the opening period.

Alec Leonard and Brody Crane each scored their first goals of the year in the second period as the Knights stretched their lead to 6-2 through 40 minutes.

Michael Misa scored in the middle period for the Spirit

Misa added another for Saginaw in the third which gave him his fourth and fifth goals in three games and seventh and eighth overall. Misa was granted exceptional status ahead of the 2022-23 season to play as a 15-year old and was selected first overall by Saginaw in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. Misa joined John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Shane Wright and Sean Day as players given the exceptional status exemption.

Jason Spezza and former Knight Rico Fata also played as 15-year olds at a time when players of that age played for their hometown team which meant Spezza’s OHL career began in Brampton, Ont., and Fata’s began in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Both Denis Potvin and Bobby Orr actually began their major junior careers at 14.

Luke McNamara also scored in the final 20 minutes and the Spirit went to two late power plays, but Bowen and the London penalty killers held Saginaw off he scoreboard and then Max McCue slid home an empty-netter on a breakaway with 6.5 seconds remaining in the game to end it.

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The Knights outshot the Spirit 20-18.

Read more: London Knights edge Saginaw Spirit 4-3 on Friday night

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O’Reilly having more than an all right start to season

Sam O’Reilly, the Knights’ 2nd round pick in 2022, is off to a massive start to his season, playing for the GOJHL’s London Nationals. The 16-year old has 12 goals and 25 points in just 14 games. The Nats sit atop their league standings with a record of 12-1-0-1 and have wins in four consecutive games. O’Reilly is currently on a ten-game point streak and has five goals and ten points in his past four games. The National will host the St. Thomas Stars on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Sports Centre at Western Fair District.

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Knights and area players set for Under-17s

Luca Testa and Sam Dickinson of the Knights have been named to play at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Langley and Delta, B.C., from Nov. 5-12. Dickinson will play on Canada Black with Delhi, Ont., native Marek Vanacker of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Testa will play for Canada White. Londoner Jett Luchanko who is a member of the Guelph Storm will play for Canada Red.

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Knights assistant coach Rick Steadman will serve as an assistant coach for Canada Black. The three Canadian teams will go up against Finland, Sweden, Czechia and the United States.

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Up next

London will play three games in three nights against three teams from the OHL’s Central Division beginning with a matchup in St. Catharines on Oct. 27 against the Niagara IceDogs.

Niagara has remade much of their roster since the team was purchased by majority owner Darren DeDobbelaer prior to the 2022-23 season. DeDobbelaer has made 19 trades since June 30.

The Knights will be facing former teammates Gerard Keane and Owen Flores who were both traded to Niagara. Alec Leonard of London will be meeting his old mates for the first time as well. Leonard spent his rookie season with the IceDogs last year.

The Knights will come home to face the North Bay Battalion at Budweiser Gardens at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 and will host the Sudbury Wolves on Saturday, Oct. 29 also at 7 p.m.

Coverage of all games can be heard beginning at 6:30 with the pregame show on 980 CFPL, at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.


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