Dale Hunter claimed he does not have to play the role of motivator with his London Knights.
From the sound of it, the Knights part-owner/coach and former NHL veteran just has to walk into the dressing room and it's all the players need.
"I think it's a driving force -- having Dale play in the NHL for 19 years and everyone knows what type of player he was," London defenceman Danny Syvret said yesterday after the Knights beat the St. Michael's Majors 4-0 to run their record to 17-0-1. "He was a gritty player, always competed and I think that carries over to the players."
But it's not just a death stare or harsh words from a guy who is second in NHL history with 3,565 penalty minutes that has helped propel the Knights to such a scintillating start.
The Knights will play host to the Memorial Cup next May and want to win the Ontario Hockey League title before they do so; many thought they were going to be crowned league champions last spring before they lost to the Guelph Storm in the Western Conference final in seven games. And the talent the Knights possess is scary. Ten have been drafted by NHL clubs.
"We talked about it all summer," said OHL scoring leader Corey Perry, whose 17-game scoring streak to start the season was snapped yesterday. "We want to go through the front door to the Memorial Cup by winning the OHL championship and not just saying we're there because it was awarded to London. We want to be the No. 1 team."
Syvret scored the winner before 1,234 at St. Michael's Arena. London also got goals from Steve Ferry, Rob Schremp and David Bolland as Gerald Coleman made 24 saves for his first shutout of the year.
The Majors (5-9-3-1) are in last place in the Eastern Conference and have scored just four goals in their past four games.