Londoner Spencer Watson’s hat trick helped the Mississauga Steelheads to a 7-3 win over the London Knights on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.
The loss was London’s first in regulation since November 6th, ending an 11-game run.
Mississauga, came out flying and built a 2-0 lead on a turnaround shot by Villi Saarijarvi from the right point and then a bouncing puck that was eventually buried by Londoner Spencer Watson at the 4:59 mark of the opening period and London seemed to be looking up at a two goal deficit for much of the night.
The Knights clawed back a 12-2 deficit on the shot clock as the period wore on and cut the score in half as they forced a turnover in the Steelheads’ end. Alex Formenton found Janne Kuokkanen and he made it 2-1. London outshot Mississauga 8-2 through the latter half of the first period and looked to carry that momentum into the second.
That was made tough when Owen Tippett scored his 22nd of the season, 23 seconds after the opening faceoff and pushed the Steelheads’ lead back to two.
Mississauga made it 4-1 at 9:33 of the middle period as Watson carried the puck through the centre of the ice, made a move at the London blue line, skated toward the Knight net and snapped a puck through the legs of Parsons.
At that point, Tyler Johnson returned to the London crease for the first time since October 28th. He missed 15 games with a lower body injury and was tested eight times before the end of the second, making his biggest stop on Tippett, who lasered a shot high at the top corner only to have Johnson snap it out of the air with his glove.
London came out looking like a different team in the third period, tilting the ice and creating chance after chance. A power play goal by Cliff Pu at the 5:00 mark made it 4-2 and the Knights pressed furiously after that, but could not score and the Steelheads took advantage of an opportunity with just under eight minutes to go as Scoley Dow came in across the London blue line and ripped a wrist shot off the post and in and the Steelheads had their three goal lead back.
The Knights pulled the goalie on a power play minutes later and it paid off as Sam Miletic popped in his 20th of the season on a rebound and London was back to a two-goal deficit.
That is as close as they would get the rest of the way as Watson completed the hat trick and Tippett scored his 2nd of the game and 23rd of the year to seal away a four goal victory for Mississauga.
The Knights will visit Sarnia on Saturday and they will do it without defenceman Victor Mete who leaves for Team Canada’s final World Junior Selection Camp. Broadcast time on AM 980 is 6:30. London will be right back at Budweiser Gardens on Sunday at 6PM to face the Kitchener Rangers.
Photo Credit: (Claus Anderson/Getty Images)