Michael Simpson shuts out Knights as London starts road trip

Londoner Michael Simpson made 35 saves to shut out his hometown team 3-0 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on Thursday night.

Simpson came up through the London Jr. Knights system before being drafted by the Petes in 2019.

He added a couple of percentage points to his Ontario Hockey League-leading save percentage in the process.

Avery Hayes scored two of the three Peterborough goals in the third period to seal the victory. The first came on a power play at 10:16 just seconds after Simpson had stopped a big short-handed chance by London.

Hayes then cleared a puck down the ice and into an empty net with 2:48 remaining as the Knights pushed to come back.

The Petes had taken a 1-0 lead on a goal at 15:59 of the first period by Brennan Othmann who picked up a puck off a turnover outside the Peterborough blue line and raced the other way on a breakaway to score his 18th of the year.

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Brett Brochu came up big in the London net several times. He made two breakaway saves and stoned Seattle Kraken draft pick at the side of Knight net with his left pad.

Peterborough made life hard on London shooters all night by getting bodies  and sticks in front of shots.

The Petes also won 72 per cent of the faceoffs.

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London played the game without Oliver Bonk and Denver Barkey who were on the ice in Langley, B.C., one night earlier as part of the 2023 Top Prospects Game.

Knights forward Ryan Humphrey was assessed a match penalty for slew-footing with just over two minutes remaining in the first period. The league office can review the play but it has the potential to come with a two-game suspension.

London outshot Peterborough 35-30.

Bonk, Barkey and Robertson on the big stage

Team White defeated Team Red 4-2 in Langley, B.C., last night at the 2023 Top Prospects Game. From a local standpoint Oliver Bonk picked up the win over London Knights teammate Denver Barkey and Londoner Charlie Robertson of the North Bay Battalion.

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Bonk showed off his steady play in the defensive zone and finished the game with a plus/minus of plus-1. Barkey recorded two shots on goal, was a fixture on the penalty kill and won three of four faceoffs and Robertson made 11 saves on 13 shots as he played the second half of the game for Team Red.

Ryan Merkley traded to Avalanche

The day before two of his former junior teams met defenceman Ryan Merkley was traded in the National Hockey League.

Merkley and forward Matt Nieto went from San Jose to Colorado for defenceman Martin Kaut and forward Jacob MacDonald. Merkley began his OHL career with the Guelph Storm before being traded to the Peterborough Petes in 2018.

The Knights acquired Merkley in 2019 as they set themselves up for a run at a championship before the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that season. Merkley has played 39 games in the NHL and has a goal and five assists.

Next up

The Knights will be in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 27 for a game against the 67’s.

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The first meeting between the teams saw exactly one goal scored and it took to the shootout to get it.

London and Ottawa went 65 scoreless minutes thanks to former elementary schoolmates Brett Brochu and Max Donoso and their combined 65 saves.

Knights co-captain George Diaco led off the shootout with a goal and it ended up being the difference in a 1-0 London victory.

Coverage of the rematch will begin at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

The Knights will be in Kingston on Saturday, Jan. 28, to complete their eastern road trip against the Frontenacs.

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