Twists and turns in any hockey season are well documented.
After a London loss and a Sault Ste Marie win on Thursday, the London Knights found their cushion atop the Western Conference down to just two points.
A 4-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs by the Knights on Friday and a 4-3 loss by the Greyhounds in Kitchener turned things right back to the way they had been. London leads Sault Ste. Marie by four points with ten games to go in the regular season.
The Knights victory was their 40th win of the season and marked the 13th time in 19 years under Mark and Dale Hunter that London has hit the big 4-0.
In 32 seasons between 1968 and 2000, London won 40 games just five times.
Adam Boqvist, Connor McMichael, Billy Moskal, and Kevin Hancock led the scoring for the Knights. Hancock got credit for an own-goal by Hamilton into an empty net late in the third period. That gives Hancock 47 goals on the season. He also picked up an assist, moving him to within six points of 100 on the year.
Liam Foudy had two assists in the game, moving him across the 60-point plateau.
Joseph Raaymakers made 20 saves in net for London for his 28th win of the season and 107th win in his OHL career. That ties him for third all-time with Jim Ralph, who played for the Ottawa 67s.
The Knights put 40 shots at Zachary Roy in the Hamilton net.
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A slashing penalty to Alex Formenton at 10:16 of the second period. Hamilton took a penalty of their own which negated their power play, but something about the call to Formenton saw him step out of the box, pick up the puck and head into the Hamilton zone on a mission. Formenton eventually faked a shot from the top of the left circle and slid a pass to Adam Boqvist who scored to tie the game 1-1.
Riding a burst of momentum, London took their first lead of the game minutes later as former Bulldog Connor McMichael scored against his old team to make it 2-1.
Billy Moskal finished a nice three-way passing play from Liam Foudy and Evan Bouchard.
Joseph Raaymakers stretched out a right pad in the third period to deny top NHL prospect Arthur Kaliyev on a tricky shot.
Watch: 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs and Jim Van Horne talk about winning 40 games in an OHL season
The 40-win season
When you play 68 games in a year, winning 40 games isn’t easy. From 1968-2000, the London Knights franchise did it just five times. With their win over Hamilton on Friday night, London made it thirteen 40-win seasons under the guidance of Mark and Dale Hunter since 2000. If you do the math, they have hit the magic 4-0 almost 70 per cent of the time during the Hunter regime. Forty-win seasons happened roughly 15 per cent of the time before it. By comparison, the next two teams on the list are the Kitchener Rangers and the Barrie Colts and they have done it eight times since 2000. Windsor and Erie are at five. Add up Sarnia, Sudbury, Kingston, North Bay, Peterborough and Mississauga and they have combined for 12.
Edmonton Oilers acquire former London Knights in separate trades
Kevin Hancock has been pouring in points all season. You can’t be zeroing in on 100 points if you are being held off the score sheet. But Hancock, who was acquired from the Owen Sound Attack in early January, is finding the back of the net game after game. Heading into Friday night, he had scored five times in a three-game span. He is doing everything possible to earn himself a professional contract. The Mississauga native has attended development and rookie camps with Buffalo, Tampa Bay, and the New York Rangers but has gone unselected in two NHL Entry Drafts. His season this year should have more than a few NHL teams knocking on his door.
Wolves are through the door
When the Barrie Colts lost 6-3 to the Saginaw Spirit on February 21, the Sudbury Wolves let out a bit of a whoop. With the way their year has gone, it was only a matter of time, but the Spirit win made it official: the Wolves have clinched a playoff spot. There are OHL teams that hardly notice when that happens because they tend to make it an annual event, but Sudbury knows what it is like to be on the outside, looking in. They have missed the post-season in three of the past four years and have finished last twice. Sudbury owns the longest championship drought, not just in the Ontario Hockey League, but in all of major junior hockey. The franchise has never won a championship.
Petes defeat London Knights in Peterborough
The Knights continue a three-game homestand on Sunday, February 24 against the North Bay Battalion. The teams met on a frigid Sunday in North Bay almost two months ago and the Battalion won in overtime. North Bay is still in a battle for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They have a cushion on ninth-place Barrie, but they are still within the Colts’ reach. The Battalion are led by big 6’5″ Justin Brazeau who is in the top 10 in Ontario Hockey League scoring.
Coverage gets going at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, 上海夜生活上海龙凤419980cfpl上海夜生活 and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
London will be home to the Guelph Storm on Tuesday, February 26 at 7 p.m. The Knights and Storm met in a mid-week game on February 13 and London came away with a 6-1 win.
For tickets call 519-681-0800, visit the Knights Armouries or go online to 上海龙凤419londonknights上海龙凤419