The London Knights might have a bench full of healthy and rested talent, play in front of possibly the best fans on potentially the best rink situated in a hockey-mad town, but if the host club has any hopes of keeping their Memorial Cup aspirations alive, they are going to have to start winning some hockey games.
On Sunday night (May 18), the Knights came up short for the second game in a row, this time dropping a 5-2 decision to the Western Hockey League champion the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Playing in front of another sold-out crowd at the Budweiser Gardens, London came out strong but again had trouble cashing in on their chances.
Trailing 2-0 on goals by Oil Kings Reid Petryk and Edgars Kulda, the Knights finally seemed to have shaken the monkey from their back when Alex Basso beat Edmonton goalie Tristan Jarry from the left side with just over three minutes remaining in the second period. Unfortunately for London, Kulda cancelled that out only moments later, effectively ending the outing for Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz with Jake Patterson taking over between the pipes in the third period.
Two more goals by Oil Kings Luke Bertolucci on either side of London defenceman Dakota Mermis' third period marker sealed off the score sheet.
Speaking after the game, Knights coach Dale Hunter downplayed the lack of goal production by his forwards so far in the tournament. Instead, he went the other way. “Sometimes you have to give credit to the other team,” said Hunter. ‘You know their goalie played well, they played a tight checking game and we had our opportunities but just didn’t bury them.”
Now down 0-2 in the tournament, London now finds themselves in a must-win situation when they take on their Ontario Hockey League (OHL) adversaries, the Guelph Storm.
Having been eliminated by Guelph in the OHL playoffs, the Knights would like nothing better than keep their hopes alive by serving up a dish of redemption with a win over the Storm.
“They know us and we know them, it’s going to be a good one,” said Knights captain Chris Tierney.
Game three of the Memorial Cup round-robin against Guelph goes Wednesday night (May 21) starting at 7 p.m.