A four-goal third period by the Spitfires helped to put an end to the Knights’ four-game winning streak on Tuesday night in Windsor as London was beaten 5-1 by the Memorial Cup hosts.
With both teams missing key players due to injury, suspension and the World Juniors, the game stayed tight for a long time.
In fact, getting the puck across the goal line in the first forty minutes was about as easy as carrying a sack of concrete up a 20-foot ladder.
It took will, skill and effort to beat Tyler Johnson of the Knights and 17-year old Michael DiPietro of the Spitfires.
Each team was able to do it just once. Jalen Chatfield got the first goal of the game for the Spitfires on a snap shot from the slot and Robert Thomas tied the game on a goal line plunge on a London power play and things sat 1-1 going to the third.
That’s when the Spitfires found the key to the vault. They scored twice on power plays and twice more within an eleven second span and kept the Knights from passing the Soo Greyhounds for first place overall.
Windsor went to the man advantage just 19 seconds into the final period as London goalie Tyler Johnson was called for tripping. The Knights nearly went ahead as Alex Formenton flew by a defender and went in short-handed on DiPietro. The London rookie deked left, hoping to open up enough room to slip the puck in, but the right leg of DiPietro came right with him and made the save.
Moments later, the Spitfires set up in the Knights’ zone and a Chatfield shot ticked off big Hayden McCool in front of the net and it was 2-1 Windsor.
At 9:29 of the third, 6’7 Spitfires’ defenceman, Logan Stanley wound his stick high into the air and connected on a slap shot that made it 3-1.
Windsor rookie, Cole Purboo and top NHL draft prospect, Gabe Vilardi scored eleven seconds apart to complete the scoring.
Knights’ forward Sam Miletic says the scoreboard didn’t seem to give an accurate picture of what happened on the ice.
“We gave up a goal on that early power play and then the bounces just didn’t seem to wat to go our way after that. I thought we played really well aside from a couple of defensive defensive breakdowns. The score really wasn’t indicative of our effort or the way the game went.”
Miletic returned after missing a game with an undisclosed injury on Sunday. Max Jones is getting closer to getting back into the London lineup, but did not dress as he rehabs an arm injury. The Knights were also without Brandon Crawley, who began to serve his two game suspension for a head-butting major against the Sting on Sunday.
Olli Juolevi and Janne Kukokkanen each picked up assists for team Finland in a win over Latvia that helped their home country avoid relegation at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Tyler Parsons and Team USA will take on Russia on Wednesday afternoon in one semi-final. Canada will play Sweden in the other semi.
The Knights are home to the Sudbury Wolves on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens. The puck drops at 7:30. London defeated the Wolves 6-4 on December 4th. For tickets, call 519-681-0800 x 1, visit the Knights’ Armouries or go online to www.londonknights.com
Photo Credit: (Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)