With eight players still away at National Hockey League training camps and two players out with injuries, a short-staffed London Knights team defeated the Erie Otters 3-2 at the Joe Thornton Community Centre in St. Thomas, Ont., on Sept. 21.
Blake Arrowsmith’s second period goal held up as the game winner and London’s penalty killing shone late in the second period and again in the final two minutes of the third period to hold off any chance the Otters had to tie the game.
Knights forwards Denver Barkey, Easton Cowan, Max McCue, Jacob Julien and Kasper Halttunen along with defencemen Isaiah George, Oliver Bonk and Jackson Edward are still with their respective NHL teams.
Landon Sim and Will Nichol are both out of the London lineup with injuries.
Sim will miss the start of the regular season.
The Hlinka-Gretzky hero for Canada opened the scoring for the Otters just 2:13 into the game as Malcolm Spence stole a puck away at the London blue line and zoomed in alone on Willmore and snapped home his second goal of the pre-seas0on to make it 1-0. Spence scored the overtime winner for Canada on a breakaway in the summer to capture gold in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Knights defenceman Sam Dickinson was a teammate of Spence’s and also brought home a gold medal.
London tied the game at 10:21 of the opening period as Kaedon Johnston beat Otters goalie Kyle Downey with a hard wrist shot on a two-on-one.
Henry Brzustewicz put the Knights ahead with just over 30 seconds remaining in the opening 20 minutes when he got the puck out of a scrum from Juan Copeland and Ruslan Gazizov and skated down the left wing. The rookie defenceman stopped on he left side of the Erie zone and ripped a shot past Downey to send London to the dressing room with a 2-1 lead.
Sam O’Reilly’s second assist of the game increased the Knights lead to 3-1 just over five minutes into the second period as O’Reilly won a battle for a loose puck in behind the Otters net and fed 16-year old Blake Arrowsmith for his first goal in a London uniform.
Copeland also had two assists for the Knights.
Ondrej Molnar tightened the gap to one goal before the end of the middle period when he blasted a Bruce McDonald shot past Willmore.
Willmore stropped 16 of 18 shots ion his half of the game. Three of those saves came on breakaways including a penalty shot inside the first minute of the first period.
Medvedev played the second half of the game in what is becoming a familiar spot for him. It was Medvedev’s first appearance in the London crease but he has been playing for the St. Thomas Stars. He made three saves in the second period and 13 more in the final 20 minutes.
The teams will meet again on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens in what will be the final pre-season game for both clubs.
Coverage will start at 6:30 on at 980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.