By Mike Maloney and Jonathon Brodie
The London Knights managed to exact a slice of revenge on the Erie Otters in Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Family Day action on Monday (Feb. 18).
Having dropped a 4-3 decision on the road in Erie Friday night (Feb. 15), it seemed only fitting that the Knights would have a chance to serve retribution on the Otters before more than 9,000 of their extended London family at a sold-out Budweiser Gardens.
Bo Horvat would open the scoring less than a minute into the game, ringing a shot under the crossbar for his 28th goal of the season. Josh Anderson would add another for the home team before Erie’s J.P. Labardo tucked one past Knights cager Anthony Stolarz. A power-play marker by Max Domi rounded out the frame with London leading 3-1.
Skating scoreless through the mid-frame, the Otters never knew what hit them as the Knights pounded on Erie with an 18-shot, five-goal, third period.
Domi would lead the way for London, adding two to round out the hat-trick, while Matt Rupert, Nikita Zadorov and Alex Broadhurst each chipped in singles on the way to an 8-1 final score.
Monday’s decision comes on the heels of another win by the Knights in Niagara the day before. A two-goal outing by Bo Horvat was the catalyst behind Sunday's 5-1 victory over the IceDogs, snapping a Knights four-game loosing skid.
With just 12 games left the losses are no need to panic for the Hunter green faithful, but might be cause for a little teeth chattering as the Knights haven’t had a losing streak of four all year, or even last season for that matter. In fact, London hasn’t seen a stretch this bad since 2011 when they dropped six games between Feb. 26 to March 12.
It might be no surprise the Knights are taking the foot off the gas pedal a bit as the skid started for the Knights on Feb. 7 in a 4-3 loss to the Sarnia Sting, right around the time London became the first team in the Western Conference to secure a playoff spot. More than a week later and the Knights are still the only team in the west to secure a berth in the post-season.
London’s personnel and fans have been poised for the playoffs awhile now as tickets for the Knights’ post-season have been on sale since Jan. 19 — on the tail end of a another three-game slide (London’s other worst streak in two years).
If you look at the season as a whole, the Knights might be just as ready for playoffs as the fans are with London having .727 winning percentage against teams ranked one through eight in both conferences (32-12 record).
If the Knights manage to get to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) finale they have to like their chances, holding a 16-2 record against Eastern Conference teams this year.
The four games recently dropped by the Knight’s might not be as bad as it looks as each of the defeats ended in a 4-3 scoreboard and one of the matchups going to overtime. A lucky bounce, a cleaner line change or even a missed penalty could have been all the difference in stopping the Knights from losing.
London has seen production from just about everyone on the roster with 10 players having 30 or more points, ranging from Seth Griffith’s 82 markers to defenceman Olli Maatta’s 30. Only the Plymouth Whalers can match that sort of production in the OHL.
The Knights next game is Friday (Feb. 22) when the boys in green take on Sault St. Marie before hosting Saginaw in a 2 p.m. matinee contest Sunday (Feb. 24).