Brett Neumann scored the game winning goal with less than five minutes remaining as the Erie Otters defeated the London Knights 5-2 in Clinton on Thursday night.
The second year Otter found a puck in the slot and snapped it into the London net in front of a sold out Eastlink Arena crowd.
“Now is the time to learn, now is the time to make mistakes,” pointed out Knights’ Assistant General Manager, Jake Goldberg after the game.
Goldberg was quick to add that there were all kinds of positives to take away from the game and singled out C.J. Yakimowicz as a player who made an impact without hitting the score sheet.
“He really stood out tonight and is going to be ready for his camp (with the Pittsburgh Penguins).”
Sixteen players who are property of the Knights will be heading to NHL training camps.
Being from Kingston, Pennsylvania, Yakimowicz is looking forward to a chance to skate with the team who he grew up cheering for.
“I’m very excited. I was a huge Penguins fan. It’s going to be fun.”
The game has become a bit of a tradition for London and Erie, who have played exhibition games in St. Thomas and Stratford before taking their show to Clinton this pre-season.
Goldberg says the Knights were thoroughly impressed with the support and the welcome they received.
“Wow. What an event. The crowd was rocking. Even though the score didn’t go out way, it was still a great time here.”
Both London and Erie used a mix of veterans getting themselves ready for those camps that open next week and young players trying to earn a spot in the OHL this year.
Janne Kuokkanen and Kole Sherwood each had a goal and an assist for the Knights. Kuokkanen found Sherwood in front of the net just over a minute into the second period to open the scoring. Later Sherwood returned the favour on a London power play, getting a puck to Kuokkanen, who tucked a shot inside the goal post to put the Knights ahead 2-1.
The Otters scored four straight goals after that as they picked up a win in their first pre-season game.
“We were definitely happy to see live action,” said Otters’ General Manager, Dave Brown. “Ten days of being up against your own had practice wearing a little thin.”
Rookie forward Cade Robinson led Erie with two goals. Veteran Patrick Fellows scored in the second period and Ivan Lodnia added an empty netter.
The Knights will finish their pre-season schedule on Tuesday against the Otters at 7:00 at Budweiser Gardens.