Oh, what a Knight

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

SUDBURY -- It was all in a Knights' work -- but this time the reward is everlasting.

Hockey people will speak about the 2004-05 London Knights for years to come as they've rewritten an Ontario Hockey League record that stood untouched for 20 years.

The Knights blanked the Sudbury Wolves 3-0 before a crowd of 4,917 at the Sudbury Community Arena last night to enter the record book for the longest undefeated streak in league history.

The Knights have 25 wins and one tie, winning their last 15 games following the only blemish, a 3-3 draw with the Mississauga IceDogs on Oct. 22.

Their last loss came April 26 to the Guelph Storm in Game 7 of the Western Conference final.

"This is pretty cool," centre Rob Schremp said following his two-goal performance that helped smash the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers' 25-game unbeaten streak.

"This will be something when you're older you look back and see what you accomplished."

Schremp can stand tall for helping the Knights achieve this plateau. He took over the OHL goal-scoring lead with 24 on the season.

He enjoyed a five-goal weekend after a hat trick in Friday's 4-2 win over Plymouth and is one up on Erie's Geoff Platt.

Schremp, as is his usual custom, asked a linesman for the puck at the end of the first and second periods, then tossed it to a young fan behind the London bench.

"I do it at home, too," he said. "I think it's something cool for a fan, a little souvenir for a little kid to go home with."

Last night's pucks should be worth something with the Knights setting the record.

And so much for the Guaranteed Win Night the Wolves and the local Don Cherry's Sports Bar and Grill promoted last night.

The Wolves really should have known better, and Cherry knows a thing or two about losing from the days when he owned the OHL-expansion IceDogs. They won only 16 games in their first three seasons.

The announcer informed the crowd with 44.1 seconds remaining that ticket stubs could be redeemed.

It's only selected appetizers that fans were promised if the Wolves didn't win, but the Knights feasted on another road opponent to set the OHL record for the longest road winning streak at 12.

When asked if the Knights might stop off at the restaurant before the trip home, captain Danny Syvret said: "I don't know, but I think the crowd will be though. We all talked about that before the game."

After Schremp scored his first goal at 6:06 of the opening period on a power play (both his goals were power-play markers), the Knights, as they've done many times, made the Wolves pay for a mistake seven minutes later when David Bolland potted a short-handed goal after a gift from rookie centre Nick Foligno.

Foligno is son of Wolves coach-GM Mike Foligno, the ex-NHLer and former linemate of Knights co-owner and coach Dale Hunter when the two played in Sudbury.

Schremp's second goal came at 11:31 of the second period.

Syvret, Bolland, Corey Perry and Dylan Hunter were playing their fourth game in four nights after playing for Team OHL against the Russia Selects on Thursday in Barrie.

Those four key players have one more to go tonight in Mississauga.

"We also have 16 other players that can fill the role at any time so we weren't too worried about it," Syvret said of the road-weary foursome.

It was Gerald Coleman's second shutout, stopping 28 shots, as he lowered his league-leading goals-against average to 1.59 with a scintillating .943 save percentage.

Teammate Ryan MacDonald is next at 2.17 with a sparkling .933 save percentage.

Last season, as a rookie, MacDonald set the league on its ear with a record-breaking 2.06 GAA.

The Knights tandem has allowed just 48 goals in the 26 games and is on pace to allow only 126 after setting a league record for fewest against last season with 147.

But the team definitely shares in that glory, said Coleman, whose shutout was preserved when Jonathan D'Aversa rang a shot off the crossbar -- achieving perfect pitch and tone -- during a Sudbury power play with two minutes remaining in the game.

Coleman said a crossbar never sounded so good, "although it didn't sound so great at first. I was a little scared. I thought it went in, but when I saw everybody rushing to the corner for the puck, I pretty much realized it didn't go in."

Coleman said it was key to build that 2-0 lead before the game was 14 minutes old.

"That's the first time in a couple of games we got an early lead and that was important, especially with the three-in-three and some playing four-in-four. We were able to sit back a little bit."

Dale Hunter said it's been "pride" that's motivated these players the first nine weeks when they've known since last January that they're in the 2005 Memorial Cup as host.

"The kids have a pride in winning and doing something special. That's really been No. 1," he said.

"And when they look back on this, it will be something special. How long's the record stood, 20 years?"

After the game, Hunter ordered 50 hot dogs for the dressing room.

"I know they're good (from playing here)," he said. "I could smell them the whole game and the kids were asking what it was."

Just like the Knights could smell the record book last night.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 3, Wolves 0

London goals: Rob Schremp (2), David Bolland

Shutout: Gerald Coleman stopped 28 shots for his second of the season

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

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; x-London Knights (OHL) (25-0-1) 2004-05

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

OHL undefeated streak

x,y-26 games: London Knights (25-0-1) 2004-05

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

24 games: Oshawa Generals (22-0-2) 1982-83

OHL road winning streak

x,y-12 games: London Knights 2004-05

11 games: Kitchener Rangers 1983-84

Nine games: Soo Greyhounds 1980-81; Peterborough Petes 1991-92

OHL road undefeated streak

12 games: Oshawa Generals (10-0-2) 1982-83; x,y-London Knights (12-0-0) 2004-05

11 games: Kitchener Rangers (11-0-0) 1983-84

OHL home undefeated streak

33 games: Soo Greyhounds (33-0-0) 1984-85

31 games: Barrie Colts (28-0-3) 1998-99

23 games: London Knights (21-0-2) 1976-77

x-14 games: London Knights (13-0-1) 2004-05

x: active streak

y: longest to begin a season

Compiled by Jim Cressman


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