Knights keep 'em coming

The London Knights' Dylan Hunter is swarmed by teammates yesterday after scoring in the third...

The London Knights' Dylan Hunter is swarmed by teammates yesterday after scoring in the third period to give the Knights a 4-1 lead against the Kitchener Rangers at the John Labatt Centre. Hunter, with four points in the game, was named first star. (London Free Press/Derek Ruttan)

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

With the NHL lockout, what you see right now in the OHL is what you get.

In other words, with none of the top players away at pro camp, teams can get a good idea of how they stack up against one other.

The London Knights must like what they've seen in the first two games. They're 2-0 following a 5-2 win over the Kitchener Rangers before 8,773 spectators yesterday at the John Labatt Centre.

And the Knights must really like what they've seen from left-winger Dylan Hunter.

Hunter scored twice and set up two other goals yesterday, following a one-point night on Friday when the Knights beat the Rangers 4-3 in Kitchener.

Hunter was buzzing all around the net in that game.

The Rangers came into the season ranked seventh in the Canadian Hockey League. The Knights, who will be hosting the Memorial Cup, are No. 1.

"It's good to get things in motion so you don't hold the stick as tight," Hunter said of the two wins.

"We've got some new guys and it's important for them to have a good test at the first of the year. Kitchener is a good team, always hard working, so we know what we have to do to win.

"It's nice to know right now what every team has and not have to wait for the players to come back (from NHL camps). You get to see where the bar is."

Hunter, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick, felt the effects of the NHL lockout more than some. While some of his teammates such as Corey Perry and Brandon Prust attended rookie camps, the Sabres cancelled theirs.

But there was a plus side.

"I got to meet all the rookies and it was a chance to get to know them," said Hunter, who scored back-to-back goals early in the third period for a 5-1 lead.

He had 26 goals and 79 points last season, his second in the league.

"This is what we're looking for from a 19-year-old that had a very good season last year," said Knights assistant coach Jeff Perry. "It's important for him to feed off that and have an even better season this year."

Hunter's father Dale is the Knights head coach, as well as co-owner and team president.

Perry said it's an interesting relationship. "Dale handles it in a pro manner because he's been around the game long enough.

"On the other side, Dylan is a mature young man and he realizes (that) when he comes here, Dale is the coach, and at home Dale is the dad. And he's able to differentiate between the two. When we're here, it's a place of work -- a business atmosphere. At home, it's father and son."

Perry said the first two games proved good tests and he likes the fact all the players are back from pro camps.

"We knew going in what we were going to see was a worthy opponent. This allows you to have a feel for our league and we've had a chance to catch some other teams in other games."

The first two games told the Rangers a lot about Londoner Justin Azevedo, their first-round pick. He scored the first Kitchener goal on a breakaway while killing a penalty.

The 16-year-old was the Western junior B league's rookie scoring champion with Chatham last season.

In the first two games, Rangers coach-GM Peter DeBoer gave Azevedo loads of ice time and had him on the power play and killing penalties.

"He's easy to like," DeBoer said. "I saw him in the (OHA junior B) Sutherland Cup semifinal round-robin last year in Stratford and his team lost out that night, but he was the best player on the ice and in a tough rink.

"You've got to give yourself a bit of a gut check when you announce a player in the first round that's five-foot-eight and 165 pounds. But he's one of those rare guys who can play at that size."

GAME GLANCE

London goals: Dylan Hunter (2), Rob Drummond, Jordan Foreman, David Bolland

Kitchener goals: Justin Azevedo, Jack Combs

Next: The Knights play in Windsor at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, then at the John Labatt Centre on Friday against the Plymouth Whalers, also at 7:30 p.m.


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