Janne Kuokkanen scored twice as the London Knights defeated the Saginaw Spirit 5-1 at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night.
London came into the game with a full lineup for the first time this season (it was game 39). That feat lasted five minutes before a puck deflected high and hit Knights’ defenceman, Victor Mete in the right ear and he was forced to leave with a cloth pressed to the side of his head.
The teams were as even as two clubs could be through the first 20 minutes. Over the first half of the period, the Spirit outshot London 5-1. Over the second half of the first period, the Knights outshot Saginaw 5-1.
The goals began to come in the second period. J.J. Piccinich scored the first one at 7:27 as Adrian Carbonara sent the Knights’ captain across the Saginaw blue line and he raced in from the left side and beat Brendan Bonello with a snap shot to make it 1-0 Knights.
Janne Kuokkanen finished a 3-way passing play from Olli Juolevi and Mitch Vande Sompel on a power play to make it 2-0 London with 4:35 to play in the second period. It was Vande Sompel’s first point in a green, gold and black uniform since he was a member of the London Jr. Knights.
Saginaw cut the London lead in half as Brady Gilmour pounced on a puck inside the Knights’ blue line and scored his 13th of the season.
As he arrived in London, Dante Salituro said that as good as his time in Ottawa was, he “had always wanted to play for the Knights.” He got a chance to score his first on a feed from Alex Formenton and got it done with a bullet to the top corner of the Spirit net, restoring London’s two-goal lead.
Carbonara created a near carbon copy of London’s first goal, setting up Kuokkanen for his second of the night with a little chip pass across the Saginaw blue line. Kuokkanen deked the puck past Bonello to make it 4-1.
After being stopped twice on breakaways, Formenton finished the scoring as he set up Owen MacDonald for a shot from the slot that went wide and then banged the ricochet right out of the air and into the net to complete a 5-1 win.
A loss by the Soo Greyhounds allowed both London and Erie to draw to within three points of first overall. The Spitfires went beyond regulation for the second consecutive night, but lost, so they are a point behind the Knights and Otters. The Owen Sound Attack won their 12th consecutive game and sit a point behind Windsor.
The Knights and Spirit will meet again tomorrow in Saginaw in what will be Dale Hunter’s 1000th regular season game behind an Ontario Hockey League bench. London will continue north to Sault Ste. Marie following the game as they will face the first place Greyhounds on Sunday afternoon. All action can be heard on AM 980.
Photo Credit: (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)