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Mar 19

London Knights: Surprise starter comes through

Some people love surprises.  Other people would rather walk across a desert carrying a camel than live the unexpected.

London Knights’ goalie Tyler Johnson got large surprise on Friday night and ran with it, making 36 saves and leading the Knights to a 4-1 victory over the Windsor Spitfires at Budweiser Gardens.

ChangSha Night Net

Johnson expected to be the back-up goaltender in Tyler Parsons’ return to the London Knights, only that didn’t happen.  Parsons’ return to the net was derailed by the flu.  He was about to play in his first game in almost three weeks after rehabbing an upper body injury and was so close to stepping into the crease that his name was announced as London’s starting goaltender.  The crowd cheered, but Parsons did not appear and behind the scenes Johnson was being informed that he would start the game.

Johnson shut out the Windsor shooters for 55 minutes and five seconds on the way to his 11th win of the year.

The first period was tight as both teams came out determined to limit what the other side was doing.  Fifteen minutes into the game and through a power play per side, London was outshooting Windsor 3-2.

A big defensive play led to a bigger offensive finish to open the scoring in the second period.  As a London penalty was ending, Cliff Pu blocked a shot just inside the Knights’ blue line and then found the puck and fed it ahead to Mitchell Stephens as he jumped out of the box.  Evan Bouchard raced up ice to create a two-on-one, took a pass from Stephens and then tucked a return feed right in front of the net, leaving Stephens a tap-in for his 20th goal of the season to make it 1-0 London.

A blocked shot led to London’s second goal as well.  Early in the third period, Sam Miletic got his leg on a wrister by Jalen Chatfield and then outraced Chatfield as he fell.  Miletic got in on goal and was poke-checked by Michael DiPietro, however, captain J.J. Piccinich pounced on the loose puck and scored to make it 2-0.

London went ahead 3-0 as Janne Kuokkanen outraced Windsor defenceman, Sean Day to a puck in centre and then fought off all 230 pounds of Day to get his 22nd goal and give the Knights a 3-0 advantage with 5:23 left in the game.

Windsor got that back and broke Johnson’s shutout just 28 seconds later as Hayden McCool deflected a pass past Johnson to cut London’s lead to 3-1.

Spitfires’ coach Rocky Thompson elected to pull the goalie with a little over two minutes remaining and just as DiPietro stepped onto the bench, Miletic grabbed a puck on the right side of the Knights’ zone, skated to centre and wired one high, into the empty net.

The Guelph Storm did London, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie and Owen Sound a favor on Friday night.  They beat the first-place Erie Otters 4-2.  That leaves London four points back of the Otters.  Both teams have 11 games left and will meet head-to-head twice, once in London and once in Erie.

The Knights head for Owen Sound on Saturday to finish their season series against the Attack.  The pregame show gets going at 7:00 p.m. from the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on AM 980 and at player.am980长沙夜网