Hunter sticks with MacDonald

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

GUELPH -- Ryan MacDonald is in and Gerald Coleman is out -- at least for now.

When you're hot, you're hot and London Knights coach Dale Hunter took that into consideration when he gave MacDonald the starting assignment yesterday, less than 18 hours after coming off the ice the night before in Owen Sound.

Rather than alternate goalies, the way he has for the first dozen games, Hunter did the unpredictable yesterday and came right back with MacDonald, who stopped 29 shots in a 4-2 win over the defending OHL champion Guelph Storm.

The Storm have been the Knights' biggest nemesis. Since Jan. 24 of last season, when they lost to Plymouth, the only team to beat the Knights is the Storm -- Guelph winning six times, including four in the Western Conference final.

The Knights are 42-6-2 in the past 50 games, dating back to Jan. 24, which includes 15 playoff games.

"To tell the truth, it was just a hunch," Hunter said of the decision to come back with MacDonald following his 46-save performance in a 5-2 win in Owen Sound.

"I'm not going to be predictable. I'm going to go with my gut feeling and go from there.

"I don't think we're going to follow in that back-and-forth pattern as much.

"Gerald will play back-to-back games, too. They have to get their bodies used to it because they'll be doing that in the playoffs. Have a good game and you might keep going."

When Hunter was asked it that might be added incentive for his two goaltenders, he replied: "It would be if I was a player. You've got to earn it now. It's tough because both are good goalies in this league."

Coleman leads the OHL with a 1.97 goals-against average and MacDonald is second at 2.26 after setting the league on its ear last season, his rookie year, with a record 2.05 average.

MacDonald, 7-0-0, said he was told when he got off the bus after arriving in London around 1 a.m. following Saturday's win. He got about six hours sleep.

"It surprised me a little bit but if someone kind of gets on a role, it's OK," he said. "Every goalie wants to play every game but I think it's good for the team when you have to earn the start. When you're hot, you're hot."

MacDonald said this will now keep the two of them on their toes at practice as well.

"We'll have to work a little harder each day and show them you want to do the job."

Coleman said he was very surprised when assistant coach Jeff Perry told him he wouldn't be starting in Guelph when he got off the bus the night before.

"I'm not too sure what's going on," said Coleman, 5-0-1. "I was just told Ryan had a good game and they want to keep going with it.

"It was a little disappointing. I still think they should go back and forth, but there's really not much I can do. I'll probably sit down with Dave (Rook, the goalie coach) and talk and go from there."

Coleman played Friday night when the Knights tied the Mississauga IceDogs 3-3 at the John Labatt Centre to end their string of 10 wins to begin the season -- and their run at the OHL record book of 11 wins to start (held by the 1992-93 Peterborough Petes and 1995-96 Storm).

The Knights, 12-0-1-0, remain the only unbeaten team in the Canadian Hockey League, where the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings went undefeated in their first 29 games to lay claim to that CHL record.

The OHL record book is incomplete and the league is researching the longest undefeated streak to begin a season.

Tyler Doig gave the Storm a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal seven minutes into the first period.

League scoring leader Corey Perry notched his 13th to tie it

four minutes into the second period. Perry has 32 points and a seven-point lead over linemate Dylan Hunter, who scored his 10th goal at 14:57 of the second period for a 3-1 London lead.

Seven seconds earlier, Drew Larman had scored his first goal as a night following last week's trade from Sarnia.

Mark Versteeg-Lytwyn got the Storm to within one of tying it, scoring at 18:56 of the third. David Bolland sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with eight seconds left.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 4, Storm 2

London goals: Corey Perry, Drew Larman, Dylan Hunter, David Bolland

Guelph goals: Tyler Doig, Mark Versteeg-Lytwyn

Next: The Knights and Saginaw Spirit face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the John Labatt Centre. The Erie Otters are at the JLC on Saturday for a 7 p.m. start.


Videos

Photos