Knights-Mustangs intriguing matchup

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Once a couple of top gunslingers ride in, it's not long before there's talk of a showdown.

So it is with the London Knights and Western Mustangs, a pair of hockey teams that have been mowing opponents down as they power toward what each hopes will be a national championship.

The question is a natural one: Who would win a showdown between the two?

There is a movement afoot just now up on campus to find out, to organize a game in aid of charity to settle what hockey followers have wondered for years. In a straight-up game between the juniors and the university lads, who would come out on top?

It's an interesting poser, particularly this year. The Knights have been brilliant, protecting their streak with big leads, wins from behind and from every other angle a hockey game can take.

They're the real thing, all right, a team of seeming destiny in the very year it will be playing host to the Memorial Cup.

The Mustangs, meantime, are into another season of dominant hockey with a team that once more rates as a legitimate contender for national honours.

Folks are pretty mum about it at Western, although they're the ones pushing for it. They've gone as far as contacting the John Labatt Centre for available dates and have enlisted the backing of Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco to help set up what has to be rated as the biggest game in these parts in years.

At the moment, no city in Canada has quite the hockey status as London. If you combine the two teams' success rates, it leaves London as the top 1-2 junior-university punch in the nation.

The Knights, as we're reminded on a daily basis, are undefeated and after establishing an OHL mark of 28 consecutive games without a defeat, are aiming to match the CHL record of 29 tomorrow in Kitchener. The Mustangs, meantime, have been humming along with an 11-0-0-1 record.

"We haven't had an approach, but we'd talk about it," Knights assistant general manager Jim McKellar said. "There are several issues. Insurance is one. And you'd have totally different guys going onto the ice. It would be 16-to-20-year-olds playing 20-to-24-year-olds."

Before all that, there is a major sticking point. Why would the Knights want to play the Mustangs in the first place?

Other than winning some points for corporate citizenship, there's not a lot of upside for the Knights. The best junior team in the nation would hardly welcome status as the No. 2 hockey team in London and it's not unreasonable to suggest the current juniors might find the former juniors who fill out the Mustangs' roster beyond their physical capabilities.

Still, there is scope for discussion. The Windsor Spitfires have met the University of Windsor in a non-competitive environment in the past, for example.

A Knights-Mustangs matchup could come off under checking rules designed to prevent injuries in a shortened game followed by a skills contest, for example. Maybe four skaters against four skaters would do it.

Whatever, you know this much: bringing together the two hot teams would mean a hot ticket and a lot of money for charity.

Kernels

Canadian 60-kilogram boxing champ Jenn Ogg just returned after winning her division in a 15-nation tournament in Taiwan. The London cop will defend her national championship next month in Quebec and then retire from the ring . . . A Hockey Canada proposal to bar 15-year-olds from playing junior is a long way from reality, writes OHL director Bill Billington of London . . . Still on minor hockey, anybody else like to see kids choose up sides and run their own games for a change?


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