Oliver Bonk’s second shootout-winning goal was the difference in Windsor, Ont., on Thursday night as the London Knights defeated the Spitfires 4-3.
The extra point moved London two ahead of Windsor for first place in the Western Conference standings with 10 regular season games remaining for both teams. Two of those games will be head to head.
The Knights managed to do something in the game that no one had done against the Spitfires this season. Windsor was a perfect 32-0-0-0 when leading after two periods. The Spitfires are now 32-0-0-1.
The victory was London’s third in four games against the Spits this season and clinched first place in the Midwest Division.
Early on, the story was Knights goalie Brett Brochu. He made save after save to start the game to keep the Spitfires off the scoreboard. He stopped two breakaways and Windsor star Shane Wright on a steal-and-shoot in the London end as three of the 10 saves Brochu made in total in the first 20 minutes.
Jacob Julien of the Knights broke the scoreless tie at 15:55 of the first period as he converted a pass from Max McCue for his eighth goal of the season.
Shane Wright tied the game 1-1 at 8:48 of the second period on a second effort in front of the London net.
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A high hit by Rodwin Dionicio of the Spitfires on Isaiah George of the Knights produced a major penalty and a five-minute man advantage for London. Penalties in the middle of it created some 4-on-4 and even some 5-on-3 but Windsor managed to kill it off.
Windsor then took their first lead of the game, as the puck bounced in front of the Knight net and was found by former London forward Colton Smith, who banged in his 22nd goal of the season. The score sat 2-1 in favour of Windsor through 40 minutes.
Brody Crane tied the game just 50 seconds into the third period as he put a shot off the crossbar and in for his seventh point in four games against Spitfires.
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Alex Christopoulos banged in his 40th of the season just 10 seconds into a Windsor power play at 3:07 of the final period and the Spitfires were back in front 3-2. However, just 1:46 later, Ruslan Gazizov ripped his 20th of the year into a top corner and the game sat tied again and it stayed that way.
Through 65 minutes and five rounds of a shootout, the score remained 3-3.
The battle of the Olivers in round six went to Oliver Bonk as Windsor’s Oliver Peer hit the post and Oliver Bonk of the Knights scored.
The goal was Bonk’s second shootout winner of the season. He also ended a game in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
The Spitfires outshot London 28-27.
The teams will see each other again on March 24 and 25 for a final home and home series.
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Luke Evangelista’s NHL debut
Former London captain Luke Evangelista had one main goal heading into his first season of professional hockey: Play one game in the NHL.
It happened on Feb. 28 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Evangelista pulled on a Nashville Predators uniform and played 14 minutes and recorded two shots on goal. His forecheck resulted in a turnover that led to the Predators only goal by Mark Jankowski.
Last year’s leader in goals in the OHL then earned his first NHL point when he assisted on Nashville’s first goal against the Florida Panthers on March 2. The Oakville, Ont., native has had a stellar season with the Milwaukee Admirals leading them in scoring with 41 points in 49 games and representing Milwaukee at the American Hockey League All-Star game.
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Patrick Kane hits the bright lights of New York
The man with the third-highest single-season point total ever by an OHL rookie has now begun his career with the New York Rangers.
Patrick Kane played one year in London, Ont., but his 146 points were enough to vault him to the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft and Kane has lived up to every bit of that pick. He helped the Chicago Blackhawks to win three Stanley Cups and was traded to the Rangers ahead of this year’s trade deadline.
London Knights edge Sarnia to capture inaugural Battle of 402 series
For the fourth time in 15 days, the Knights will meet the Sarnia Sting.
The game takes place Friday, March 3 in Sarnia, Ont., and will wrap up the season series between the two teams.
Sarnia has just two losses in their past eight games and both have come against London but the games have been close. The first three in this 15 day span have all been one-goal games. The Sting won the first in regulation and the Knights got by Sarnia in overtime and a shootout in the next two in order to clinch the first-ever Battle of the 402 regular season title.
Coverage will get started at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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