A Memorial Cup berth has always eluded the Knights

Morris Dalla Costa -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:24 AM ET

The Peterborough Petes have made the most appearances as a team in the Memorial Cup tournament, participating seven times. The New Westminster/Kamloops franchise has made the most appearances as a franchise in the Memorial Cup, making it 10 times.

The Cornwall Royals and Kamloops Blazers hold the record for most Memorial Cup wins at three each.

That's only since 1972, when major junior hockey was established. If you go back far enough, you'll find that the St. Michael's franchise and the Oshawa Generals franchise have won four Memorial Cups.

In fact, the Generals made six other appearances in the final. The Edmonton Oil Kings won one Memorial Cup to go along with seven other appearances in the final.

After 40 years, the London Knights will make appearance No. 1 at the Memorial Cup next May. The Knights were made host team of the tournament and granted passage to junior hockey's hallowed event.

Now that's a long wait.

What's remarkable in all this is how many times in those 40 years the Knights have actually been close enough to see the Memorial Cup. It turns out not very many at all.

Thank goodness the city was awarded the Memorial Cup for this year or the wound from the Knights' failure to advance last year would have been raw and throbbing as the season begins.

The Knights established numerous records, including most points during an OHL regular season. They fought back from a 3-1 deficit against the Guelph Storm to force a seventh game at the John Labatt Centre.

They fought back from being down in that seventh game to tie it 3-3, only to lose.

Even though it was only the Western Conference final, the Storm went on to easily handle the Mississauga IceDogs and travel to Kelowna for the Memorial Cup.

The closest the Knights have come to earning their way into a Memorial Cup was in 1999, when a team that many considered average at best knocked off top team after top team to make the OHL final. The Belleville Bulls took a 3-1 lead in games but the Knights pushed the Bulls to a seventh game in the series, which was played in Belleville.

The Knights were never close, getting blown out 9-2.

The Knights were in an OHL final series one other year. That was 1977 and it seemed a year in which a strong Knights team was fated to finally win an OHL title.

The Knights battled the St. Catharines Fincups in an eight-point series, a format in which no overtime would be played unless the teams were tied in an eighth game.

The teams would need overtime to decide the series.

"Of course we want to earn our way into the Memorial Cup," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. "We know there are teams out there who are really competitive and would like to beat us because we're competitive."

Here's the translation. Teams would love to knock off the Knights, not only because it means the other team is a step closer to the Memorial Cup but also because it provides the opportunity to annoy the Knights at every turn should they fail to earn their way into the tournament.

If the Knights don't win, they'll hear a great deal about how the only reason they made the Memorial Cup is because they have a nice building and a fan base that's nuts for hockey.

Even though the Knights are one of the favoured teams in the OHL, winning an OHL title is always a longshot for any team, even the very good ones.

And, the Knights have had 39 years to prove it.


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