Knights show signs of Cup grit

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Kitchener Rangers associate coach Steve Spott has been there and done what the London Knights did yesterday. He even still has the T-shirt from Quebec City.

"You could just feel them come to life," Spott said after the Knights rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 overtime win. "You've got to know how to win. You've got to have that will to win. Two years ago, we had that feeling. London has it right now."

Spott said there are many things about this Knights team that remind him of the Kitchener team that won the 2003 Memorial Cup. Yesterday's comeback is one of them and it bodes well for the Knights when they play host to the 2005 tournament in May.

"When we gave them that first goal, all of a sudden you go from not believing to believing," said Spott, filling in for head coach-GM Peter DeBoer, who's in Winnipeg as an assistant coach with the Canadian juniors.

Rangers forward Michael Richards is also at that camp, but the Knights were without Canada hopefuls Corey Perry, David Bolland and Danny Syvret.

"They had every excuse to lose, we didn't," Spott said, adding it's the mark of a great team when it doesn't use such an excuse, even when it is legitimate.

Rob Schremp, who scored the tying goal, said excuses are generally for losers.

"We could have said we had an excuse, but even without the three guys, we have a lot of character. No matter what, we can rise to the occasion.

"Today, everybody was emotionally drained. There had been so much crap going on before and after the game Friday. I'm just proud of the boys. This was huge."

"It's going to be tough to leave the boys. It's been fun the last couple of months," added Schremp, who will miss the next five games as he leaves Thursday to play for the U.S. at the world juniors.

After the second period, Rangers president Steve Bienkowski spoke about how Hockey Canada opened it's selection camp yesterday with the tournament not starting until Christmas Day.

"I think they leave too early," said the former Ranger goalie from the early 1980s.

"It's not just Kitchener, but London and . . . the Western league and Quebec league, we're all weekend leagues and what's one day? Look at the schedule, then make the determination."

Knights coach Dale Hunter said he can live without having the four players.

"Honest to God, I hope they all make it," he said of the three Canadian hopefuls. "It's an experience of a lifetime."

With the Canadian team roster being set no later than Thursday, the Knights could have some or all of Perry, Bolland and Syvret back in time for their next game, Friday at home against Sudbury.


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