A Boris Katchouk deflection in overtime ended a roller coaster of a game at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night as the Soo Greyhounds defeated the London Knights 4-3.
Both teams showed off all kinds of speed throughout the game and the Knights battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to pick up an all-important point in the logjam that is the OHL’s Western Conference. The top six teams came into the night separated by three points and are now bunched up even more as just two points make up the gap between first place and sixth.
Sault Ste. Marie had started slowly in Windsor on Thursday and never did make up the deficit. On Friday, they came out charging and built a two lead in the first 20 minutes. Minnesota Wild draft pick, Gustav Bouramman had the Greyhounds on the scoreboard 35 seconds into the game as he followed his shot to the Knight net and banged in a rebound.
Morgan Frost put Sault Ste. Marie ahead 2-0 as he cut to the London goal on a power play and fired a puck blocker side on Tyler Johnson, who made his fourth consecutive start as Tyler Parsons continues to rehab a lower body injury.
The Knights came within a crossbar of scoring in the first period, courtesy of rookie Alex Formenton.
It was Formenton who helped London cut into the Greyhounds’ lead while killing a penalty in the second period. He forced a turnover in centre ice, brought the puck into the Sault Ste. Marie end, got a shot away that was stopped by Joseph Raaymakers, but Owen MacDonald was right there to bang in the rebound in his return to the Knights’ lineup following a five game suspension.
A short-handed goal the other way put the Greyhounds back in front by two goals as Boris Katchouk stole a puck at the side of the London net and fired it in to make it 3-1 for Sault Ste. Marie.
The Knights continued to battle back and before the end of the second period, they got to within a goal again as Max Jones dragged a puck into his body, faked a shot and fed a pass to Janne Kuokkanen, who he scored for London. The assist for Jones extended his point streak to seven games and the Knights trailed 3-2 going into the final period.
Things got interesting even before the puck dropped as Jones received a ten minute misconduct at the end of the second period. Tyler Johnson was then forced to leave the game due to injury. On a shot that went wide of the Knight net, Johnson appeared to hurt his right leg and had to be helped to the London dressing room. That brought Trenton McGrail of the London Nationals into the game.
It didn’t slow the Knights’ push as they got the game tying goal from Cliff Pu at 10:49. London got the puck to the front of the Greyhound goal and Pu got enough of it on his second whack to get it across the goal line. Raaymakers reached back and was able to get his glove on the puck to the point that the play had to be reviewed, but the goal stood.
The Knights put all kinds of pucks at Raaymakers on a late power play, but could not score and then had to kill a penalty as regulation time expired after Jones was called for tripping. Greyhounds’ forward, David Miller forced a turnover in behind the London net and tried to cut in front and Jones hauled him down to take away the scoring chance.
London killed off the rest of the seconds in regulation, but after being robbed by the glove of McGrail, Katchouk tipped in the winner on a point shot by Bouramman.
The point gives the Knights 17 on the season and moves them to within two points of Sarnia, Kitchener and Erie and first place overall in the OHL.
London is right back at it against the Sarnia Sting on Saturday night. The teams last saw each other on opening night in Sarnia when both lineups were missing all kinds of names and faces, away at NHL training camps. Broadcast time on AM 980 is 6:30. The puck drops at 7:00.