The most incredible game in an incredible run

Morris Dalla Costa -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

This was the most remarkable of them all. That's saying a great deal, considering the nature of this streak and the plethora of remarkable moments.

A Christmas miracle came early for the London Knights at the John Labatt Centre yesterday. They were down 3-0 to the Kitchener Rangers in the third period of Game 31 of their undefeated run and going nowhere fast. They were missing three key players, national junior team invitees Corey Perry, Danny Syvret and Dave Bolland.

The Knights had just come off an emotionally and physically draining record-setting game Friday.

The conclusion seemed inevitable: It was fun while it lasted. See ya' later undefeated streak.

Oh yeah? Don't run out and print that record book quite yet. Things are just getting interesting.

In a comeback that left virtually everyone stunned by it's ferocity, the Knights scored three goals in the third period then got an overtime winner from Bryan Rodney to defeat the Rangers 4-3 and extend their Canadian Hockey League undefeated record.

Game's end seemed to break an emotional dam within the Knights as they sprinted over the boards to swarm Rodney. The noise in the JLC threatened to blow the roof off the place. It was a far more chaotic and celebratory scene than anything that happened Friday night.

That's probably because as the game progressed, no one believed a celebration was in the cards, except the players themselves.

Drew Larman, how would you rate this game on the remarkable scale?

"Pretty remarkable," said the Knights forward. "We wanted it bad. Between the second and third periods we talked about how we'd been in this situation before. We weren't stopping. Once we got the first goal, we took it to them."

Ryan Pottruff's scored the first goal 2:21 in the third period. It was like a shot of adrenaline. The weariness, the missing players, all the dark and dire stuff, everything was forgotten except the need to score. The instant jolt also woke up the denizens of the JLC.

"When you're down like that there's no system," coach Dale Hunter said. "It's just an all-out blitz."

And what a blitz. Kitchener went from all-out domination to all-out survival mode.

The Knights talk a great deal about character and determination. They've faced deficits during this run, but yesterday's game proved much more.

There were many people who were waiting to see just how this team would react to true adversity. They were waiting to see how they would react to missing Perry, Syvret and Bolland. Toss in injuries to Frank Rediker and Rob Drummond and you've got a situation that can go south pretty quickly.

"We can never fill those shoes," Larman said. "But we stick together and play as a team. We've got a lot of depth."

Who would respond to more responsibility and increased ice time? Guys like Larman and Jeff Whitfield.

And then there's Rodney. He's been one of the best Knights on the ice the past two weeks. While his winner, a knuckler from the blue-line, should have been stopped, he orchestrated a variety of other opportunities while logging a ton of ice time.

"Character is a generalized word," Rodney said. "Our will to win and the belief we have in each other is second to none. I'm proud to be a part of it.

"When push comes to shove, it was there for the taking. We wanted it more."

It's a familiar mantra heard and proven so many times during this streak.

No more so than yesterday.


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