The London Knights stumbled at the beginning of the month of December, but finished strong to be second overall in points. They trail the Soo Greyhounds by a single point with 2 games in hand to start 2017. With 3 of their top players at the WJC and Max Jones still injured the Knights have done an admirable job of keeping up with the Greyhounds, Otters and Spitfires.
The play of Tyler Johnson has still been spotty at best, but he did have his best game of the season against the Sarnia Sting. He stopped 39 of 40 shots en route to a 4-1 Knights win. He struggles with tracking the puck with congestion in front of his crease. That has made it imperative that the Knights defence clears the opposition forwards from in front of the net. They did a magnificent job against the Sting and allowed him to make save after save.
In the previous game against the top team in the East, the Oshawa Generals the Knights struggled for most of the game. The Generals are a big and heavy team and take the body constantly. That slowed the speedy Knights and caused them to struggle to create offense for most of the game. Johnson struggled all night allowing 3 weak goals to the Generals and only a third period comeback by the Knights enabled them to secure a 5-3 win.
With Jones and Kuokkanen out of the Knights lineup it has allowed other players to increase their ice time and share the workload. Most notable has been the play of rookie Liam Foudy who has found his game at the OHL level and will only get better as the season continues. Another player who has flown under the radar all season is Sam Miletic, in his first full season with the Knights after leaving the team midway through last season to focus on school. He is becoming a solid second line player and has already scored 21 goals this year and is a top two way forward in the OHL.
The Knights will open 2017 with a New Year’s Day game in Sarnia against the Sting and a home game Friday night against the Sudbury Wolves. With the OHL overage and regular trade deadlines fast approaching it will be interesting if the Knights add to their existing roster. London is poised to take another run at the OHL title and with the Spitfires as Memorial Cup hosts the Knights must win the OHL title to advance to the Memorial Cup and try and spoil the party for Windsor.