A five point day for Robby Thomas propelled the London Knights to a 6-2 victory over the Flint Firebirds on Teddy Bear Toss day at Budweiser Gardens.
The day didn’t start out as an easy afternoon Sunday drive for the Knights. In fact, goals were impossible to come by for London through the first 28 minutes and eight seconds.
Former Knight, Kole Sherwood had put Flint ahead at the 11:52 mark of the first period as he squeaked a wrister through the legs of Tyler Parsons on a delayed penalty call.
Josh Nelson, J.J. Piccinich and Alex Formenton came the closest to scoring a Teddy bear toss goal for London in the first period, but the puck stayed out.
Thomas played catalyst all afternoon and it was Thomas who helped to bring down 9220 stuffed toys for the Salvation Army.
The Aurora native started a 3-way passing play that went to J.J. Piccinich on the right side of the Flint net and back to Sam Miletic for a tap-in at the edge of the crease. That tied the game 1-1 and relaxed the London shooters and they added two more before the end of the period.
Miletic scored his 19th of the year, one minute and ten seconds later to put the Knights ahead 2-1. Thomas assisted on that goal as well.
Then Thomas took a pass from Piccinich at the Firebirds’ blue line, shielded the puck and stepped past a defender all in one motion and raced to the Flint net. Thomas got in tight and flipped a shot into the top corner, over the glove of Garrett Forrest and London headed to the dressing room with a two-goal lead.
Flint tightened things up on a 5-on-3 early in the third as Nicholas Caamano banged in his own rebound to make it 3-2.
J.J. Piccinich and Adrian Carbonara gave London some breathing room with goals 41 seconds apart to put London up by three.
Brandon Crawley brought the fans at Budweiser Gardens out of their seats with a hit that knocked Mathieu Henderson into the London bench and then Thomas kept them standing as he brought the puck down the ice with two Knights in the penalty box. Thomas went one-on-one with a defender, put the puck through his own legs from behind and then beat Forrest with a low shot to cap his biggest offensive output in the OHL and finish the scoring.
The win extended the Knights’ unbeaten-in-regulation streak to 11 games and kept them within a point with theof the Erie Otters for first place overall in the OHL standings. Erie downed the Attack in Owen Sound for the second day in a row, 6-1. London has played two fewer games so far.
The Knights will host Mississauga on Friday night. The Steelheads just ended a nine game winless streak. Game time is 7:30.