The London Knights piled up the offence on Tuesday on their way to a 7-2 victory in Hamilton.
Sean McGurn has stepped into a veteran role on a young Knights roster and led the way with a goals and two assists against the Bulldogs. McGurn found Denver Barkey at the side of the net on a two-man advantage just 1:21 into the opening period for the first goal of the game and later in the opening period he converted a Barkey feed for his second goal of the pre-season.
McGurn had just 38 games of Ontario Hockey League experience in 2019-20 before the COViD-19 pandemic put a stop to the season but he picked up a few tricks from the veterans he played with on a team that had put itself into position to try to win a championship.
McGurn showed off one of those tricks in the second period when he held a puck in at the blue line and in one motion found forward Liam Gilmartin in behind the Hamilton defence. Gilmartin made a move to his backhand and beat Marco Costantini in the Hamilton net.
That goal came 12 seconds after the Bulldogs had cut the London lead to 4-2 and basically ended any momentum Hamilton had created.
London got third period goals from Stu Rolofs and Easton Cowan, who scored twice on the night moving the Knights pre-season record to two wins and two losses. Both victories have come on the road.
Ben Bujold, London’s first round pick in 2020, left the game in the third period after colliding knee-on-knee with Londoner Liam Van Loon at the Hamilton blue line.
The Knights outshot the Bulldogs 31-28. Matt Onuska made 26 saves in net for London.
Back from the bigs
Bryce Montgomery, Ben Roger and Max McCue have returned from NHL training camps. Montgomery was in Carolina, Roger was with the Ottawa Senators and McCue had been in San Jose. McCue says that at first it was strange walking into a dressing room and finding Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson walking around but that disappeared quickly. “Eventually you dump the puck into the corner,” says McCue, “and they are the ones you have to battle against to get it.”
Roger admits he is looking forward to playing in London again.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve been able to wear the Knights uniform, so we’re all excited to get back and get going.”
Looking good in bleu, blanc et rouge
The last two goals Christian Dvorak was a part of in green and gold were fairly important. One tied the 2016 Memorial Cup final 2-2 and the other won the game in overtime, making the Knights Memorial Cup champions for the second time.
Dvorak made some noise in his Montreal Canadiens pre-season debut on Sept. 27 when he scored once and assisted on three other goals in a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dvorak was acquired by Montreal from the Arizona Coyotes almost instantly after the Canadiens decided not to match an offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Making London official
Londoner Carter Sandlak was one of two referees who officiated the game between the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens on Sept. 27 in Montreal. Sandlak is the son of one-time Knight Jim Sandlak and played for Belleville and Plymouth in the OHL before spending four seasons in the AHL and ECHL.
Londoner and former Knight Tommy Hughes was on the ice in stripes in Hamilton, Ont. as one of the two linesmen for the game between his former team and the host Bulldogs. Hughes was part of the Knights’ back-to-back OHL championships in 2012 and 2013. He played professionally with Hartford and Hershey of the American Hockey League and also spent time in the ECHL with South Carolina and even played 55 games in Great Britain with the Nottigham Panthers.
Two pre-season games remain for the Knights. They will be in Barrie on Thursday Sept. 30 (pre-game at 7:00 on 980cfpl.ca) as London plays the Colts for the second time in a week. The Knights will put a wrap on their exhibition schedule on Friday Oct. 1 against Hamilton. A total of 4500 fans will be permitted inside Budweiser Gardens fir the game. All fans will be required to follow the event protocols laid out here.
Coverage of Friday’s game will begin at 7:00 at http://www.980cfpl.ca.
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