Intrepid Knights smoke Majors

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

TORONTO -- The big city failed to intimidate the London Knights yesterday as they ran their OHL record-breaking unbeaten streak since starting the season to 18 games with a 4-0 win over the Toronto St. Michael's Majors.

The Knights are 17-0-1 and have now won seven in a row after beginning the season with 10 straight wins.

The 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings hold the Canadian Hockey League mark of 29 games without a loss to start a season.

The Knights put their streak on the line again Wednesday in Mississauga against the team that snapped their first winning streak -- the IceDogs tied the Knights 3-3 at the John Labatt Centre on Oct. 22.

As one streak continued, another ended. Forward Corey Perry went pointless for the first time this season. He leads the league with 15 goals and 41 points.

Also for the first time during their record chase, the Knights came under the glare of national media attention.

Following yesterday's game, reporters milled around the dressing room, almost as though the out-of-town media's discovery of the team legitimizes its performance.

"This is like the pros," said coach Dale Hunter. "It's good for (the) kids. The more you do, the better you get. It's fun for them, too. The kids deserve it. They've worked hard."

Perry and defenceman Danny Syvret were quizzed about the team and their chances of making the national juniors.

Rob Schremp was in another area with Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. Schremp is an Edmonton Oilers pick and GM Kevin Lowe and scout Dave Semenko were at the game.

The longer the NHL lockout lasts, the more the media will crave hockey stories, and the Knights are primed for their share of attention.

"We'll take it as it comes," goalie Gerald Coleman said after his shutout. "We know if we keep winning, it's going to come more and more. We just have to put more pressure on ourselves to win."

Winning in the band-box St. Michael's College School Arena hasn't been easy for the Knights in recent years. They were 2-4-1 going into the game.

"Every shot is a good quality shot," Coleman said. "Even dump-ins are like a shot. You have to fight through traffic, look through legs. . . . It's in-your-face hockey.

"We couldn't do a lot of offensive things we normally do but this just shows how much we want to win. Sometimes people don't think we have the motivation because we're already in the Memorial Cup, but every day we come to the rink e work hard.

"The coaches won't let us slack off. If we do, they're all over us. They want us to be perfect because when it comes to the Memorial Cup, there's no second chance."

Hunter double-shifted Perry at the end, giving him every opportunity to get a point.

"They were checking him tight but he still got his chances. He's very creative. He can pass as well as shoot. He's just not one-dimensional," Hunter said, explaining to reporters what local fans already know.

Perry, who hands over the longest active points streak to Erie's Rob Hisey at 14 games, even got off a shot at the final buzzer while being knocked into the sideboards.

"It would have been nice to keep the streak alive, but this was more for Colzie (Coleman) to keep his shutout alive," Perry said.

"We played a strong defensive game today. There's not too much room to move out there the way we can on the bigger ice at the JLC.

"There was a lot of clutching and grabbing and some dirty goals were scored."

Syvret and rookie Steve Ferry scored before the game was nine minutes old, chasing Majors goalie Justin Peters after just five shots.

Schremp popped his 13th later in the period, and with Peters back in for the second and third, David Bolland scored his 11th midway through the third period following a scoreless second.

Referee exchange

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League referee Andre Dupuis worked yesterday's Knights-St. Michael's Majors game.

Dupuis made a weekend swing through the OHL as part of the Canadian Hockey League referee exchange program. Selected officials from the three major junior leagues will work a limited number games in the other leagues.

The host league selects the referee from a pool provided by the other leagues.

OHL referee Sean Reid of London worked in the WHL on the weekend. This is Reid's second year as a referee after four years as a linesman.

Reid, who also works in the East Coast, United and OHA junior B leagues, has been selected by Hockey Canada through his work as a referee in the OHA for the 2005 IIHF world under-20 division III championship in Mexico City Jan. 10-16.

GAME GLANCE

London goals: Danny Syvret, Steve Ferry, Rob Schremp, David Bolland

Shutout: Gerald Coleman stopped 24 Toronto St. Michael's shots.

Next: The Knights play in Mississauga on Wednesday (7 p.m.). Belleville is at the John Labatt Centre on Friday (7:30 p.m.).


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