Knights 5, 67’s 3
It wasn’t much fun to be an Ottawa 67 this week.
Certainly, not after Sunday’s loss to the lowly Kitchener Rangers, a team everyone was beating until they arrived in Kanata.
The 67's coaching staff was collectively in foul humour and couldn’t wait to share video showing all the defensive gaffes over and over around some hard practices before heading into a stretch of three games in four days against some of the Ontario Hockey League’s best.
For 40 minutes, the results seemed obvious - at least on the scoreboard. It’s just that 40 minutes won’t beat a team as talented as the Memorial Cup-hosting London Knights.
The Knights erupted with three goals in the opening six minutes of the third period to overcome a 3-1 deficit and dump the 67’s before a Thursday night crowd of 2,245 at the Canadian Tire Centre.
And things don’t get any easier for the 67’s, starting Friday night against the East Division-leading Oshawa Generals on the road and continuing in Kingston Sunday. That’s before the annual School Day morning game Tuesday against the Belleville Bulls, a game which now could be for 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Facing London, the 67’s plan was to try and keep the Knights chances to a minimum and have their forwards worry more about their own end.
That strategy worked, too, as the teams exchanged first period goals with Chris Tierney opening the scoring 13 minutes in before Konecny tied it on a London giveaway that left the prize rookie all alone in the slot. Konecny doesn’t need much room and he beat Anthony Stolarz high on his glove side for Konecny’s eighth of the season.
The good news is Konecny continues to lead the entire league in rookie scoring.
The bad news is the 16-year-old is also leading his own team, now one point up on 19-year-old Joseph Blandisi.
Brett Gustavsen, who scored eight goals in each of the previous two seasons, put the 67’s up just past the 15-minute mark of the second period and scored his seventh of the season four minutes later on the power-play.
“We talked about all week how we have to be hard to play against,” said 67’s head coach Chris Byrne. “We have to be that tough on the puck. We have to compete that hard.
“I thought we were better. And if we do compete that hard, if we can take time and space away from the other team, we can be in the mix. We can compete.”
The 67’s appeared poised for an upset only to have London’s Josh Anderson's goal 40 seconds into the third key the comeback. The Knights fired 20 shots on goal in the third, outshooting the 67’s 41-22.
The Anderson goal brought the Knights to life and a pair of goals 42 seconds apart by Alex Basso and London’s prize rookie Mitchell Marker put them ahead for good. Bo Horvat sealed the win with a goal into an empty net.
The 67’s, to their credit, deserved better. Twice they hit posts behind Stolarz and Blandisi had two golden chances in the third.
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