Victor Mete scored the game winner 17 seconds into overtime to complete a 5-4 comeback win by the London Knights over Sudbury on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.
The Knights erased a 4-2 deficit in the third period to even have the chance to go to overtime and remain one point back of Sault Ste. Marie and two points ahead of both Windsor and Erie in the overall OHL standings.
Year after year, no matter what, interesting things seem to happen when the Wolves play in London.
Twenty-one years ago, the Sudbury Wolves came into London and scored four goals in one minute to erase a 5-2 London lead and grab a 6-5 victory from a team that only won three games all year.
In 2004-2005 the London Knights were in a very different place, sitting atop the league and on a CHL record-breaking run, going 29-0-2 from the start of the season. The Wolves came into London and became the first team to defeat the Knights.
This time around, it took over a period for anything to happen on the scoreboard as Tyler Johnson of the Knights and Jake McGrath of the Wolves channeled some of the best of Tyler Parsons and Carter Hart from the night before at the World Juniors, doing what they had to keep the puck out of the net.
They combined for 30 saves through 27 and a half minutes of hockey before Owen MacDonald set up Alex Formenton for his 11th goal of the year and a 1-0 London lead.
A great defensive play from Victor Mete in his own zone eventually led to a chance the other way and the second goal of the game. Mete dropped down to one knee to block a pass in front by Wolves’ forward C.J. Yakimowicz and the Knights got the puck out of their zone, through centre ice and Olli Juolevi walked in from the right point and wired a wrist shot past McGrath and put the Knights up 2-0.
Dmitri Sokolov showed off his sniper skills to cut London’s lead in half as he found a tiny opening over the shoulder of Johnson and scored his 25th goal just 57 seconds after Juolevi’s goal.
Sokolov tied the game on a breakaway at 16:56 as he picked up a flip pass and went in on Johnson and with a backhand-forehand move, made it 2-2.
Not long after that, Sokolov drew a penalty and that led to a third goal by the Wolves as Zach Wilkie blasted a slap shot into the Knight net for his first of the year. In a span of 4:07, Sudbury had turned a two-goal deficit into a one goal lead.
David Levin blasted a shot in on a second straight Sudbury power play early in the third period to make it 4-2 for the Wolves.
Jordan Kooy entered the Knight net in the third period for the second straight game and the Knights mounted a comeback that had some big help from Kooy.
Cliff Pu followed a 2-on-1 into the Sudbury end and banged in a rebound for his 25th to get London to within a goal and then Kooy made a big save with his right pad to keep the score at 4-3.
Knights’ first round pick, Liam Foudy tied the game at 12:40 on a backhand from the slot and then Kooy made two more large stops before the end of regulation.
Mete used his tremendous speed in overtime to beat out an icing and strip the puck away from McGrath behind the Wolves’ net and wrap it in to give London the win and two very big points.
At the end of the game, the Knights stayed on the ice to say goodbye to former teammates Aiden Jamieson and C.J. Yakimowicz. Both were acquired by Sudbury after helping London to win the Memorial Cup last May.
The Knights get a shot at some payback against the Mississauga Steelheads on Sunday when London heads to the Hershey Centre. Mississauga won at Budweiser Gardens on December 9th. AM 980 will have the pre-game show at 1:30. London will host Saginaw on Friday, January 13th at 7:30.
Tyler Parsons will be honoured before that game after winning gold at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Photo Credit (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)