The late Alistair Cooke, the host of Masterpiece Theatre on PBS once said, “A true professional is someone who can do their best work when they don’t feel like it.”
No one would have blamed the London Knights if they didn’t feel as though they were playing with a full tank of gas on Saturday in Guelph. They were wrapping up nine games in 14 days against and young and hungry Storm team that built a 3-1 lead and took it into the final minute of the second period.
The Knights willed that lead away with four straight goals and ended up winning their final game in November by a 5-3 score.
“We were down, but started talking about just getting that one shot to go in and it did,” said Knights assistant coach Rick Steadman. “From there, the players pushed and pushed and used their speed and away we went.”
The game was London’s final one in an incredibly successful month that saw them go 10-1-0-1 and climb to the top of the OHL standings.
The London Knights took only 38 seconds to erase the 3-1 Guelph advantage. Robby Thomas put a shot from the slot through Guelph rookie goalie, Anthony Popovich with 49.1 seconds remaining in period two, and then Adrian Carbonara netted his first as a Knight with 12 seconds remaining and London went to the room tied 3-3.
Olli Juolevi got the game winner with 5:22 remaining in the third period as he blasted a J.J. Piccinich pass into the Storm net from the left point.
As time was winding down, Cliff Pu added some insurance as he weaved toward the Storm net and attempted to put a pass on Carbonara’s stick for a tap-in, only to have it hit another stick and go in for his 18th goal of the season.
The only goal of the first period came on a power play as Detroit Red Wings’ draft pick, Givani Smith barrelled to the Knight net, got to his own rebound on a power play and knocked it through the legs of Tyler Parsons for a 1-0 Storm advantage.
Smith got his second of the game 45 seconds into the second period, this time on someone else’s rebound. Londoner Isaac Ratcliffe got a shot at the Knight net that was stopped by Parsons, but Smith was able to find the puck and put it in.
Janne Kuokkanen got to a puck in the Guelph end, grabbed it out of the air, dropped it to his stick and snapped it through the legs of Popovich to make it 2-1.
The Knights nearly tied it as Victor Mete fired a shot off the inside of the post that rattled its way past skates and sticks, out into the slot and the Storm got to it and marched the other way and Smith ripped in his third goal for Guelph to complete the hat trick.
The Knights do not play a game until Friday night when they will host the Owen Sound Attack, the team that kept London from owning a 9-game win streak through one of the busiest parts of their 2016-17 schedule. Don’t forget the Teddy Bear Toss, which takes place on December 4th at 2:00 at Budweiser Gardens against the Flint Firebirds.
Photo Credit: (Claus Anderson/Getty Images)