On an extremely cold day in North Bay, the London Knights and the North Bay Battalion did their best to create some energy inside in a game that needed overtime to find a winner.
Brandon Coe scored the game winning goal in a 4-3 victory that stopped a three game losing streak for the Battalion and gave the Knights a 1-1-1 record on their northern road trip.
Roughly a minute before Coe took a pass and ripped a shot into the London net, the Knights had come within a goal post and a great big save of winning the game themselves. Liam Foudy’s shot struck iron and Christian Propp stopped Connor McMichael in alone. North Bay raced down the ice after that to win it.
London assistant coach Dylan Hunter says coming close at one end and then having the opposing team score right away at the other end is a scenario every hockey fan has seen over and over.
“That’s usually how goes,” Hunter said. “In 3-on-3 it’s one chance for another. We had our shot hit the post and they came down and buried theirs.”
Hunter felt the game could have gone differently had the Knights been able to play differently during regulation time.
“It was just an OK game,” admitted Hunter. “I think we got away from our game play. We had too many turnovers, especially against their top line, and that put a lot of heat on . We got a point out of it but we should’ve had two.”
London outshot North Bay 40-30. Billy Moskal had two assists for the Knights.
How the goals were scored
There are times in games when opposing players forget just how fast Liam Foudy is. The Battalion fell victim to that very thing as Foudy took a pass in centre ice and zoomed into the North Bay zone on the right side. He cut around two defenders, got to the net and chipped his 21st goal of the year over Battalion goalie Christian Propp to put the Knights up 1-0 just over five minutes into the game.
Brad Chenier banged in his own rebound just under two minutes later to tie the game, before Patrick Brown poked a rebound past London goalie Joseph Raaymakers with only 28.2 seconds remaining in the opening 20 minutes. The Battalion then took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Knights captain Evan Bouchard tied the game 2-2 short-handed, thanks to a great play from London forward Billy Moskal. The Sudbury native skated the puck to the Battalion blue line on a bit of a 2-on-1, but with defenders catching up, Moskal moved to his left and bought some time before sending a pass across to an uncovered Bouchard, who scored his seventh goal on the season.
Moskal helped put the Knights up 3-2 at 11:45 as he won a faceoff to Riley Coome and Coome sent a pass across to Will Lochead. His wrist shot went through a crowd and straight into the net.
Matthew Struthers tied the game for North Bay early in the third period and the teams stayed even at 3-3 into overtime.
After London hit a goal post and Propp made a big save, Brandon Coe took a feed on the left side of the Battalion end and scored the game winner.
Counting by tens
The Knights recorded their 30th victory in their 42nd game of the year. According to stat master Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow on Twitter) that is the seventh fastest run to 30 wins in the OHL since 1997. On that same night, Joseph Raaymakers earned his 20th victory this season in the London net, Liam Foudy hit both 20 goals and 40 points, and Adam Boqvist reached 30 points with an assist on the game-winning goal — all in the same game.
Hancock as advertised
Kevin Hancock is an interesting case study around the OHL. He spent the first four and a half seasons of his career in Owen Sound before being acquired by the London Knights on January 4 and he made a name around arenas he visited with the Attack.
Ask fans in Kitchener about him and they will say, “Oh, he’s a Ranger killer.” Go to Guelph and you will hear the same thing. “Storm killer.” Before he got to London he was well-known for things like six points in four games in a series win over the Knights last spring. Hancock has 11 points in seven games so far for London. He ranks third in goals scored this year in the OHL and third in overall scoring as well.
Kooy close, Formenton getting closer
Jordan Kooy could return to the Knights’ lineup as early as Thursday. He suffered a minor injury on January 12 prior to warm-up before London played host to the Ottawa 67s and has been given time to rehab. He has missed the last five games for the Knights.
Alex Formenton has been out since mid-December after injuring his leg at Team Canada’s final selection camp ahead of the World Junior Hockey Championship. Formenton has reportedly been skating recently and may be able to get back into the lineup next month. The Senators draft pick has 16 points in 13 games so far this season.
Justin Taylor still flapping with Wings
The London native finished his Knights career as team captain in 2010. He has now played in more than 500 professional games, mostly with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL. He’s about to become the franchise leader in games played and no one would have blamed Taylor if he had stopped playing games entirely in 2016.
In a playoff game, he took a puck to the eye and had to deal with a very scary injury. He has not only rebounded, Taylor has excelled. He was set to play in the ECHL All-Star game, but an injury will force him to miss it. He is averaging just under a point per game for Kalamazoo and needs three more games played to pass Kevin Schamehorn on the Wings’ all-time list.
Former Knights scout Bill Needham passes away
Bill Needham, who was part of the London Knights scouting staff from 1994 to 1997, passed away on Tuesday, January 15 at the age of 70. Needham was a huge part of getting hundreds of players to the Ontario Hockey League, serving as a scout for North Bay and Windsor and doing two stints with OHL Central Scouting, then as director from 1998 to 2004.
A home and home with the Windsor Spitfires. The Knights will play their fifth consecutive road game on January 24 in Windsor and then race back to London for their first home game in 13 days on Friday, January 25. The two-game set will finish the regular season series that the Knights currently lead three games to one. Windsor’s win came on the back of a Michael DiPietro shutout in early October and DiPietro is now in the Ottawa 67’s crease. The most recent matchup was a wild and crazy 8-6 London win as both teams returned from the holiday break.
The Spitfires still have a shot at catching up to fifth place Owen Sound, but they are trying to hold off Sarnia, Kitchener and Erie who aren’t all that far behind in the mix for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The pregame show gets going at 6:30 on Thursday from the WFCU Centre in Windsor on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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