Knights don't let streak go to the dogs

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward Tyler Kennedy leaps to avoid a check from London Knights winger...

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward Tyler Kennedy leaps to avoid a check from London Knights winger Brandon Prust during the second period of yesterday's Ontario Hockey League game at the John Labatt Centre. (London Free Press/Morris Lamont)

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Danny Syvret figured it was time for the London Knights to rise and shine yesterday afternoon.

The wakeup call actually came before the Knights captain scored his team's first goal, seven minutes into the second period.

Some well-chosen words from the likes of Syvret helped "inspire" the Knights to a 4-2 victory over the Soo Greyhounds before another sellout crowd of 9,030 at the John Labatt Centre. The Knights are undefeated in 23 games -- 22 wins and one tie -- as they inch closer to the OHL and Canadian Hockey League record books.

But the Knights and their fans had to be wondering after the first nine minutes if this would be the day the incredible streak ended. London trailed 2-0 on goals by Blair Jarrett and Matt Puntureri two minutes and 14 seconds apart.

"Obviously that ran through my mind, but I figured we still had 40 minutes to play," Syvret said of the streak. "We sort of talked about it (during the intermission). We knew we weren't playing very well and we had to have some intensity. Obviously we carried that aggression onto the ice."

After Syvret's power-play goal at 6:47, Trevor Kell scored at 8:56, then Dylan Hunter at 16:55, followed 10 seconds later by David Bolland. The Knights outshot the Greyhounds 20-5 in the second period after being outshot and outworked in the first.

Syvret said each veteran took his turn speaking during the intermission.

"We have a lot of leadership on this team. (Defenceman) Bryan Rodney doesn't have a letter on his jersey but he was pretty vocal in the dressing room," Syvret said. "It helps that it's his fifth year and he knows what it's all about. He's been through it in Ottawa."

Rodney was a rookie with the 67's when they won the 2000-01 OHL championship.

Syvret said when the coaches came into the dressing room halfway through the intermission, "they knew we knew we didn't play very well so they just kept everything positive.

"When they left, we had time to talk some more, but mostly everything was said before they came in and we'd gotten everything clear."

An athlete is generally the first to know when he's not playing well and Knights head coach Dale Hunter said he knew things would be taken care of before it was time for the coaches to speak.

"When you have good leaders, you figure they'll be talking among themselves," he said.

Hunter also said a skate save by goalie Gerald Coleman on a Greyhound short-handed scoring chance later in the first period gave the Knights an opportunity to come back.

"If they went up 3-0, it would have been a lot tougher," Hunter said.

Greyhounds coach Craig Hartsburg said his team forced numerous turnovers in the first period, then stopped skating.

"The second period we played like a team that hoped to win against the best team in Canada, instead of playing like we could win," he said.

The Knights for the most part didn't let the Greyhounds have the puck in that period.

"London turned up the intensity level on the puck and we stopped forcing the issue," Hartsburg said.

"I was here Friday (for the Knights game against Ottawa) and people say they win because of skill. That's not true. Their skill is successful because of their work ethic. They want the puck and they work hard to get it back."

Looking ahead, the Knights can break the OHL record for the longest unbeaten streak when they play three games on the weekend -- Friday at home against Plymouth, Saturday in Barrie, then Sunday in Sudbury.

The record is 25 games by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers.

They could also break the league record for the longest road winning streak. They've won 10. The record is 11, by the '83-84 Rangers.

ROAD TO THE RECORD BOOK

CHL undefeated streak

y-29 games: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) (24-0-5) 1978-79

27 games: Sorel Blackhawks (QMJHL) (26-0-1) 1973-74

26 games: Kamloops Blazers (WHL) (23-0-3) 1998-99

25 games: Kitchener Rangers (OHL) (25-0-0) 1983-84

24 games: Oshawa Generals (OHL) (22-0-2) 1982-83; Hull Olympiques (QMJHL) (24-0-0) 1995-96

x-23 games: London Knights (OHL) (22-0-1) 2004-05

x: active streak

y: longest to begin a season

GAME GLANCE

Knights 4, Greyhounds 2

London goals: Danny Syvret, Trevor Kell, Dylan Hunter, David Bolland

Sault goals: Blair Jarrett, Matt Puntureri

Next: The Knights play Plymouth on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


Videos

Photos