Despite gaining 4 points in 2 games against the sad sack Guelph Storm the London Knights had their biggest test of the season as the Erie Otters came to town Friday night. The league leading Otters have been the heads and shoulders above the rest of the league after the Arizona Coyotes returned forward Dylan Strome. Along with the Raddysh brothers and Alex Debrincat they have become a deadly force at even strength or on the powerplay. Erie has the top 2 scoring forwards in the league Debrincat leads the OHL with a whopping 19 point lead over teammate Taylor Raddysh. Defenceman Darren Raddysh is the top scoring defenceman in the league and only defenceman in the top 20 in scoring. Since his return from the NHL Strome has 70 points in only 31 games and is 17 overall in scoring.
The Knights actually started well against the Otters firing 15 of their 25 shots on goal in the first period and holding a 1-0 lead. Cliff Pu the only Knight in the top 20 in scoring gave the 9000 plus at Budweiser Gardens some hope. But it wasn’t meant to be as the Knights would have little else for the Otters. Erie on the other hand poured in on in the remaining 40 minutes. London surrendered 2 power play goals in the second period and that was the end for the Knights. Erie would add an empty net goal in the third as they shut London down in the third allowing the Knights only 3 shots on goal.
The Knights have struggled down the stretch against the top teams in the West including the Spitfires who are right on the heels of the Knights. In defence of London Tyler Parsons was out for a month and it will take some time for him to get back to being the top goaltender in the OHL. As well the Knights have missed power forward Max Jones who is still serving his 10 game suspension. London will have a chance at revenge on Tuesday as they travel to Erie. First place overall is a pipe dream for the Knights at this point. The Knights will have 3 games left in their season after the road trip to Erie. They face Flint twice and close out the season against the Soo Greyhounds. London will need every point they can gain to stop falling further in the overall standings.