Londoner Nick Suzuki scored the shootout winner as the Owen Sound Attack edged the London Knights 3-2 on Friday night.
It was the second time in ten days that Owen Sound had recorded a shootout win over London and they did it with a familiar formula.
The Attack may have grabbed the blueprint from last year’s first round playoff series against the Knights before they left the shores of Georgian Bay. Time and space were about as easy to find as winning lottery tickets.
London players still credit the Attack for helping them to bring their game up to the level they would need to reel off 17 straight victories on their way to a Memorial Cup Championship in Red Deer in May.
Owen Sound got a goal at 7:10 of the first period to open the scoring as their first round pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, Aiden Dudas banged in a rebound on a Matthew Struthers shot to give the Attack a 1-0 lead.
That lead stuck until late in the second period when Janne Kuokkanen bolted across the Attack blue line and was taken down, giving London a power play and they took advantage, although it took a goal you might find in a playoff game to make it happen.
The Knights worked the puck around the outside of the Owen Sound zone while Alex Formenton battled for position in front of the Attack net. The puck found the stick of Brandon Crawley near the left point and the New Jersey native got a shot away that Formenton deflected off the post. Before the puck could hit the ice, Formenton batted it out of the air and past Michael McNiven to tie the game 1-1.
Petrus Palmu, who scored a big overtime playoff goal for Owen Sound last spring, scored a big goal again in the third period. A bounce off a skate in the London end landed right on his stick and he was able to manoever his way to the Knight net and beat OHL Goaltender of the Month for November, Tyler Parsons to make it 2-1.
With 5:12 to go and the Knights killing a second straight minor penalty to Olli Juolevi (he was penalized for playing the puck before leaving the penalty box), Cliff Pu got a puck to the Owen Sound net, it bounced off a defender, off Pu’s body and stayed out. It got close enough to the Attack goal line that McNiven flipped up his mask when the whistle went and gave Kevin Hancock a kiss on the cheek for his teammate’s work in helping the puck to stay out.
London killed off the rest of Owen Sound’s man advantage and then got the equalizer as Sam Miletic took the puck hard to the Attack net and the trailer on the play, Janne Kuokkanen poked in his 14th goal of the season to tie the game.
The teams went to overtime and the game followed the script from the game in Owen Sound. The Knights drew a penalty, went to the power play and put eight pucks at McNiven, only to be stopped eight times. In two overtimes, London has outshot the Attack 13-0 and hit two goal posts without finding a way through the Canadiens’ and Team Canada hopeful.
Owen Sound outscored London 2-0 in the shootout as Suzuki put a shot off the post and in.
The single point coupled with an Erie Otter loss in Guelph has moved the Knights back into sole possession of first place in the OHL standings and they remain unbeaten in regulation in their last ten games. The only dents in that record are two shootout losses to the Attack.
Owen Sound will now play back-to-back games against Erie to close out the weekend.
On Sunday, the Knights will play host to the Flint Firebirds at Budweiser Gardens for the annual Teddy Bear Toss at 2:00. AM 980’s coverage gets underway at 1:30.