After an undisciplined game on Friday night against the Soo Greyhounds the London Knights coaching staff had their work cut out for them as the Sarnia Sting came to town. Winners of the last 4 of 5 games the Sting are a team on the rise, even though they are missing their top 3 players. Still on NHL teams are Jakob Chychrun, Pavel Zacha and Travis Konecny. Of those three Zacha and Konecny look to be not returning to the Sting, but time will tell. Nikita Korostelev a Maple Leafs draft pick was the best player on the ice and made Knights starting goalie Emanuel Vella look bad on the Sarnia second goal. The Sting chose this game to give the nod to 16 yr old goalie Blair Coffin for his first OHL start and he did not look out-of-place as the Knights peppered him with rubber through the game.
London has their own dilemma in-goal, as rookie Tyler Johnson will be lost to the Knights for approximately six weeks and starter Tyler Parsons was in street clothes watching as he is not ready to return to the ice as of yet. That gives the starting job to third year Knight Emanuel Vella. Vella looked less than stellar on a pair of the Sting goals, including the Stings first goal less than a minute into the game. But was good enough to gain the victory for the Knights. The Knights as a team were a more cohesive unit through the first half of the game, but it didn’t last. Veteran defenceman Chris Martenet was handed a 7 minute cross checking penalty as well as a match penalty that will include a suspension. Oddly enough the 3 fight rule now imposed in the OHL, has the linesmen not allowing players to engage in fisticuffs and it leads to penalties like the one handed Martenet (a whole nother topic for another day). As noted yesterday Max Jones was without a doubt the best and worst player on the ice for the Knights. On this evening for the first two periods he showed why he is a first round draft pick in the NHL. He and Cliff Pu were a threat to score every time they were on the ice. They were the reason that London gained a 5-3 victory, but he again lost focus and took a 5 minute major for interference. Basically running over a defenceless Sting player, it is doubtful he will be suspended. He must be more of a leader on this team if they are to challenge for another title. Yes the season is young and as history shows us it usually takes 20 plus games for teams to find their stride. But London at this point a one-dimensional team and need Jones on the ice and not in the box.
London will head on a northern road trip this week with visits to North Bay and Sudbury. They return home on Sunday afternoon to face the Hamilton Bulldogs. AS ALWAYS SEE YOU AT THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!