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Aug 19

Game Preview: Knights vs Attack

Knights at Attack – 7:30 p.m. – Harry Lumley Community Centre – Owen Sound, ON

Broadcast: 7:00 p.m. – AM980 and 长沙桑拿按摩论坛player.am980长沙夜网

“I found out (I would be starting) three or four minutes before we went out for introductions.” – Knights’ goalie Tyler Johnson on his surprise start Friday against Windsor.

Where the teams sit

ChangSha Night Net

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    London and Owen Sound are in the thick of the hunt for the top spots in the Western Conference as the teams are separated by just four points, both have 39 wins and 11 games remaining.

    The Knights are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Windsor Spitfires which was supposed to mark the return of Tyler Parsons to the London net.  Minutes before the puck dropped, Parsons fell ill and was replaced by Tyler Johnson who went out and made 36 saves, 19 of them in the third period, to help London capture the win.

    The Knights have now reeled off three straight victories and thanks to an Erie loss in Guelph, sit four points back of the Otters for first place overall.

    Owen Sound owns the most remarkable run by any team during the 2016-17 season.  From December 5 to February 17 they lost just two games, both to London.  Their record over that span was 22-1-0- but they still sat in fourth place in the West.

    After beating the Knights 6-1 on February 17, the Attack dropped a 3-2 shootout loss to Oshawa on home ice and then a 5-3 decision in Mississauga on Family Day.  Owen Sound bounced back and beat the Kitchener Rangers 5-0, getting 21 saves from goaltender Michael McNiven, as he posted his sixth shutout of the season. (He is tied for the league lead with Michael DiPietro of Windsor).

    The season series so far

    It has been a true pot luck.  There has been a little bit of everything.  Heavy on shootouts and light on dull moments.

    The first two games, the teams played went all the way through 65 minutes without a winner. The Attack won both by scores of 2-1 and 3-2.

    The third meeting became one of the most memorable that the clubs have ever played.

    It happened in Owen Sound on a Saturday afternoon in late January.  The flu had rocked its way through the Knights’ dressing room, and coupled with injuries, London was missing eight regulars from their lineup.

    The Knights were coming off a loss less than 24 hours earlier and fell behind 5-1 early in the second period.  There was every reason to pack it in and wait for the final buzzer.  Instead, London head coach Dale Hunter made a goaltending change.  Jordan Kooy came into the net for the final 32 minutes as the Knights erased the deficit and pushed the game to yet another shootout on the back of a Mitchell Stephens hat trick.  Stephens had a chance to win the game in the shootout and made no mistake as London left Owen Sound with a 7-6 win.

    Since that day the teams have traded lopsided victories. London blanked the Attack 4-0 and then two weeks later, Owen Sound won 6-1.

    Add them up and the Attack have the edge in the season series by one win.

    The match up

    The Knights are coming off a big win over the Spitfires that saw them sacrifice to block shots and bare down to bury their chances.  They will have to be wary of any kind of letdown heading into the Harry Lumley Bayshore Arena.

    London entered the game against Windsor trying to fend off a team that was within three points of them in the standings.  The Attack are just four points back.

    As much as teams will say they aren’t concerned who they have to play in the first round of the playoffs, staying out of the 4-5 matchup is a good idea.  That will mean finishing in first or second place in the Midwest Division.

    Owen Sound has preached consistency all season and found it in early December.  Their first real sustained hiccup since then came last week when they went back-to-back games without picking up a win.

    They will be out to prove to themselves that they are still in a groove as they hit the final 10 games on their schedule.

    One More Story

    Some people like surprises.  Johnson seems to be one of them.

    He says he found out that he would replace Parsons in goal three or four minutes before the London Knights were introduced before their game against Windsor.

    “I had left my blocker and my helmet in the bench (where the back-up goalie sits),” Johnson recalled.  “I skated out with a hat and my glove on as they called Parsons’ name.  It was kind of interesting.  I really didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, which can be good because you can’t overthink it.”

    Johnson played outstanding in the Knight net and London got a very important 4-1 win.