A young London Knights’ lineup gave an experienced Sarnia Sting team a good test in a 5-3 pre-season loss on Saturday night.
London either or led or stayed within a goal for all but 1:22 of the game and got a good look at a number of new players on their roster, dressing three forwards born in 2000.
Knights’ Assistant General Manager, Jake Goldberg had a great deal of praise for those players and others who lack a great deal of OHL experience.
“A lot of our young guys are really impressing right now. They are playing against older lineups and still managing to stay in the game, so we’re really happy.”
The most veteran London Knights on the ice in Sarnia were heading into their second year in the Ontario Hockey League.
Sam Miletic turned 19 in May, but only has 35 games under his belt heading into 2016-17. He opened the scoring just a minute and ten seconds into the first period on a play made by 16-year old Liam Foudy. Foudy was London’s first round pick this year and used his speed to back the Sarnia defence into their zone, before dishing to Miletic, who went high on former Elgin-Middlesex Chief, Justin Fazio for a 1-0 lead that left Fazio shaking his head in his crease.
The Sting tied the game before the five minute mark as Filip Helt tapped home a Jordan Kyrou feed from behind the net and then went ahead on a power play goal from Arizona first rounder, Jakob Chychrun.
The Knights fought back to tie the game before the end of the period as Evan Bouchard held a puck in at the right [point of the Sarnia zone, got it to Miletic and he found Kole Sherwood for his second goal in as many nights.
The Sting scored the lone goal of the second period courtesy of Troy Lajeunesse and held the lead into the late stages of the third period.
Foudy stripped a puck from Chychrun and nearly got to a give and go pass for a chance to tie the game, only to have the puck shot up the ice to Clachan’s Travis Konecny. The Flyers’ prospect was able to squeeze a shot past Knights’ goalie, Tyler Johnson to make it 4-2.
With the London net empty, the Knights circled the Sarnia zone and chased in to make it close again on a 3-way passing play finished by Alex Formenton, who says his first two exhibition games have him feeling much more comfortable on the ice.
“I’m starting to feel better out there. It’s only two games, but things are definitely becoming more natural.” Formenton has two goals and an assist in two pre-season games.
The Knights pressed for the tying goal, but couldn’t get it and Adam Ruzicka sealed things with an empty netter with less than five seconds left.
Johnson and Emanuel Vella split the goaltending duties for London and combined to face 42 shots, each, making some tough saves as they battle for the number two job behind Tyler Parsons.
The Knights will stay on the road for their next exhibition game on Thursday in Clinton against the Erie Otters. The game will be available at AM980.ca
A few members of the Knights will play a little road hockey against some country music stars at noon on Thursday at Covent Garden Market as part of Country Music Week.