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London Knights edge Sarnia to capture inaugural Battle of 402 series

Brett Brochu held his ground and then lunged to grab a last shootout attempt by Luca Del Bel Belluz of the Sarnia Sting as the London Knights beat Sarnia 4-3 in a shootout on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.

Add that to Brochu’s massive stop on Marko Sikic in overtime and a blocker stop in the third period and the goaltender from Belle River, Ont., provided the Knights with a chance to come back against the Sting and clinch the season series between the teams and with it the inaugural “Battle of the 402”.

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The victory moved Brochu into sole possession of second place on London’s all-time wins list by a goalie.

He now has 85 which is eight victories behind former Knight Michael Houser.

Londoner and co-captain George Diaco tied the game on a power play at 8:04 of the third period and then scored the only goal of the shootout.

That goal came after an apparent tying goal by Knights forward Easton Cowan was negated after it was determind London’s zone entry was offside.

Ryan Humphrey opened the scoring with a backhand that beat Ben Gaudreau in the Sarnia net at 11:50. That goal finally solved the Sting netminder after a surge of offence from London to begin the game. The Knights outshot Sarnia 15-7 in the opening 20 minutes.

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The Sting tied the game on a power play when Sandis Vilmanis scored for the second straight game against London. That goal came at the 17:03 mark of the period.

Sean McGurn made a perfect “pad pass” in the final minute of the first period as he blazed down into Sarnia territory on the right side of the ice and wristed a shot off the pad of Gaudreau that came right out to Ruslan Gazizov and Gazizov swept the puck in for a 2-1 London lead.

A pair of second period goals from Sting sniper Nolan Burke gave him 38 on the year and gave Sarnia a 3-2 advantage on the scoreboard through 40 minutes.

Diaco’s third period goal was his 24th on the year.

Gazizov had a goal and an assist in the game for the Knights and was named the game’s first star.

London outshot the Sting 40-33.

The Knights now have a two-point advantage over Windsor for top spot in the Western Conference with a game in hand.

The Spitfires lost for the second consecutive night on an eastern road trip as they were beaten 6-1 by the Ottawa 67’s.

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Tierney to Montreal

Former London Knights captain Chris Tierney has joined former London teammates Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak in Montreal, Que. He will also play alongside Londoner Nick Suzuki.

The Montreal Canadiens claimed Tierney on waivers on Feb. 23 from the Florida Panthers. Tierney has played nine seasons of professional hockey with Florida, Ottawa and the San Jose Sharks.

The Keswick, Ont., native helped the Knights to win back-to-back OHL championships in 2012 and 2013.

Crazy eights

London co-captain George Diaco has put together an eight-game point streak on three separate occasions in 2022-23. The first one began in October just five games into Diaco’s Knights career. He was acquired by London from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The second started in late December and ran into early January and the third lasted from Feb. 4 to Feb. 18.

Up next

The Knights begin eight straight games on the road in Owen Sound, Ont., on Saturday night at 7:30 against the Attack.

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London has had great success on the road this season. they have the Ontario Hockey League’s best road record at 20-4. That is a winning percetage of .833. No other OHL team is above .700 on the road and 11 of the 20 teams in the league are at .500 or below.

Owen Sound beat then Knights the first two times that the teams saw each other this season. London won the next three games by a combined score of 18-4. This will be the final regular season meeting between the clubs.

Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

The Knights will be in Guelph, Ont., on Sunday afternoon. Coverage of that game will start at 1:30.

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