1st Star Of The Game Mitchell Stephens
Otters Defenceman Jordan Sambrook
Game #5 in Erie, the Knight trailed 2-0 after 20, only to score three straight goals in 2:57 to start the 2nd period of play. The 3-2 score chased Otters’ goalie Troy Timpano from his cage and seemed to put London in the driver’s seat. However, a strong 3rd stanza in front of their home crowd propelled Erie to a 6-3 final and once again put the London Knights on the brink of elimination. Familiar territory however for the home squad in this year’s playoffs, after falling behind Windsor 3-1 in their first round series, Knights entered Budweiser Gardens Sunday evening with a 3-0 record in do or die hockey.
The best way to throw your opponent off their game plan is to score first, the earlier the better. Jordan Sambrook, a Detroit Red Wings prospect managed to score the first goal on Saturday night 8:51 into Game #5 back in Erie, not bad. Before most of the 8,401 fans had settled into their seats, the Markham, Ontario blueliner took a nice pass from Alex DeBrincat down the leftwing and sniped a goal glove side top-corner on the very first shot registered in Game #6, just 47 seconds into the battle. A quieted crowd would sit in silence, watching their team be outplayed and outshot 6-1 over the first 4 minutes, 11-3 by the halfway mark of the frame. Over 11 minutes into the game, Mitchell Stephens beat Troy Timpano, but the crossbar would show no love and pure rejection. London would also fail to capitalize on the only powerplay of the period, going into the intermission lucky to be only down by one goal, while being outshot 14-9.
The Otters would come out just as dominant in the second, as the first. Outshooting the Knights 7-1 to start the stanza, continuing to push the pace and control the tempo. With 7 minutes left in the period and Janne Kuokkanen in the penalty box for a high-sticking minor. Erie would spend the whole 120 seconds in the London zone, but failed to capitalize with four dog tired penalty killers by the end on the ice. Later the Knights would eventually get a chance to steal some momentum when Erie was called for Too Many Men with 3:33 left before 2nd intermission. That call must have left Head Coach Kris Knoblauch and his staff with a sour taste in their mouth, after what they believed were a couple missed Too Many Men calls against the home team earlier in the contest. That sour taste would soon turn rotten, when Janne Kuokkanen would score on that powerplay with assists from Olli Juolevi and Victor Mete to tie the game 1-1 with 2:15 left in the 2nd period.
Regardless of the tie score after 40, it really seemed like it was Erie’s game to lose. For a third consecutive period, they came onto the ice and played as if they were the only team on the ice at times. It took 8:11 for London to register their first shot on goal in the 3rd period, a wrist shot by Mitchell Stephens gloved up by Troy Timpano. That would be just one of three shots the Pickering, Ontario goaltender would face over twenty minutes. His team outshot the home team 11-3 in the 3rd, 35-20 over 60 minutes of play, but thanks to phenomenal goaltending at the other end of the rink by Tyler Parsons, Game #6 would need overtime.
If you thought the 4th period of hockey would start off any different than the previous three, you’re a fool. Fans held their breath on the edge of their seats, while London was outshot 6-1 to start the free hockey on Sunday night. After a bad icing, Dale Hunter was forced to use his timeout not only to rest his tired players on the Ice, but to potentially light a spark. Minutes later, Brandon Crawley would find Robert Thomas speeding through the neutral zone, the Aurora, Ontario native would streak into Erie territory, setting up Mitchell Stephens. The player with the best chances for London in the 1st (crossbar) and 3rd (glove save), would bury the puck into the net turning Budweiser Gardens into a madhouse. 9:44 into the first overtime, the former Captain of the Saginaw Spirit Mitchell Stephens’ 6th goal of the playoffs ends it.
Thanks to the 44 save performance by Michigan goaltender Tyler Parsons, the Knights will now play in their second Game #7 in as many rounds and compete in their fifth game while facing elimination in this year’s postseason. Unlike the Quarter-Finals Game #7 against the Windsor Spitfires where London completed the series comeback on home ice, this final game of the series takes place south of the border at the Erie Insurance Arena Tuesday night with a 7:00pm puck drop. Awaiting the winner of Tuesday’s contest to battle for the Wayne Gretzky Trophy is the Owen Sound Attack, who disposed the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in six games.