The Saginaw Spirit paid a visit Friday night to Budweiser Gardens and the well rested London Knights. The Spirit came to town sporting a losing record, consisting of 2 victories and 4 losses and the fans would find out why, early in the game . London was without Max Jones serving his second game of a 2 game suspension for a slew foot, Kole Sherwood took his leftwing spot on the top line and continued to shine.
Much has been written about London and their league worst penalty kill. But unlike other writers, I will keep saying it over and over, just give the team time and it will all come together. There is no reason to sound the alarm bells this early in the season. The problem is a lack of cohesion with a team of this talent. It is hard to give this many talented players the icetime they need and are used to and have them play as a unit.
The Spirit found out firsthand how fast and talented these Knights are. From the drop of the puck London employed the run and gun offence that will propel them to at least a division title. Spirit goaltender Evan Cormier was the only reason the game wasn’t a blowout by the periods end. Knight forward Aaron Berisha opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal as he continued to score at a torrid pace. London and Saginaw had a stretch of 4 on 4 hockey and it was the first time all season, that the Knights true talent showed. The Spirit escaped the opening 20 minutes only trailing 1-0.
In the second period, Berisha again lit the lamp, picking up a rebound and putting it behind Cormier. Victor Mete carried the puck from center and nearly split the defence before Berisha scored on the second rebound on the play. The middle period seemed like it was completely played in the Saginaw end as London did everything but add to their lead.
The third period was a repeat of the previous 2 periods as London continued to outpace and out work the Spirit. The only sustained pressure and scoring chances Saginaw had, were the direct result of London defensive miscues. The Knights were again showcasing their offensive prowess, this time on the power play. A series of 5 passes left the Saginaw defenders watching as J.J. Piccinich finished off the play with an easy goal. Knight forward Owen MacDonald scored on an empty net to make it 4-0 with just over a minute left in the game. The only thing that remained for the 8,938 in attendance was a chance to see Tyler Parsons record his first regular season shutout. But it wasn’t to be as Mitchell Stevens broke the goose egg for Saginaw.
Up next for London is a date Saturday night with the Soo Greyhounds. Plenty of tickets are still available, call the box office at 519-681-0800, londonknights.com or visiting the box office.