New boot gives Pottruff a leg up

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

Go ahead and pick the more impressive feat -- the London Knights' three-goal, third-period comeback against Kitchener on Sunday or defenceman Ryan Pottruff's return from a broken leg ahead of schedule. There's a link. The 18-year-old Woodstock native, who suffered the break during an exhibition game in early September, popped London's first goal in its dramatic 4-3 overtime win over the Rangers, extending the team's colossal unbeaten streak to 31 games.

It was the third game back and first on defence for the restless Pottruff, who wasn't expected in the lineup until January. Instead, he ended the Knights' season-high drought of five scoreless periods and was the catalyst for the charismatic, come-from-behind win.

"I cheated a little bit when I had my cast on. I didn't feel any pain after a while, so I started walking on it," the six-foot-two, 211-pound Carolina Hurricanes draft pick said yesterday.

"At my next appointment, I asked the doctor if he would take off the cast if I showed him I could walk. He asked me if I had cheated. I told him but he still took the cast off."

Pottruff still needs his leg to be wrapped heavily to play and the rubbing of the tape against the skate boot has affected him.

Equipment manager Chris Maton took photos of Pottruff's foot and ankle with his wife's digital camera and sent them to skate manufacturer CCM, which designed a super-sized boot for Pottruff to use. He tested the skate during practice yesterday.

"The leg's good, there's no pain. My foot speed's a little slow but that's expected," Pottruff said. "Maybe I could have waited, but we kept winning and you don't want to miss that. It got to where enough was enough.

"When you're hurt, you're still on the team, but if you're not playing, you feel a bit like an outsider."

No one knows that feeling better than goaltender Ryan MacDonald. The 19-year-old hadn't played since being pulled against Windsor on Dec. 3, but he managed a personal comeback by stopping 10 shots in relief of Gerald Coleman in Sunday's victory.

"There was nothing to lose in that situation," MacDonald said. "Being yanked is the worst feeling in sports. It's like a pitcher getting pulled in baseball in a big game. . . .

"Both times (the Knights changed goalies this season), we came back to win. It has changed the momentum."

Most expect the Knights to hit a speed bump soon with the loss of Rob Schremp (Team USA) to the world junior tournament and any or all of Corey Perry, Danny Syvret and David Bolland to Canada's world junior entry.

It will be up to such youngsters as Perry's brother A.J., Harrison Reed and defenceman Ryan Martinelli to maintain quality control.

"We're on the ice about eight times a week and we travel with the team when we're not playing," A. J. Perry said.

"There's a lot of chemistry in this room even without Corey Perry, Dave Bolland and Danny Syvret."

Martinelli, a six-foot-five Londoner and former St. Thomas Star, played his first game with the Knights on Sunday and admitted it was thrilling and overwhelming.

"It takes a while to get used to playing in front of 9,000 people," the Western student said.

"There's a ton of pressure, especially with the streak and your family and friends watching. You don't want to make a mistake.

"But it's been great. When the Knights were interested in signing me, it was a no-brainer."

So was the announcement that Corey Perry was among the segment winners of the Canada Post Cup three-star program.

Perry, who leads the OHL in scoring, has accumulated 83 points in Cup points to lead the Midwest division.

Mississauga's Patrick O'Sullivan has 75 points, Sarnia goalie Ryan Munce has 62 and Kingston's Anthony Stewart has 56 to lead their respective divisions.


Videos

Photos