Larman quietly making presence felt

Morris Dalla Costa -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

On Oct. 19, the London Knights sent Mathis Olimb to the Sarnia Sting for Drew Larman. It was called a minor deal, a tweak of the lineup. What a tweak it has turned out to be.

Olimb was one of the Knights import players and Larman was a player that even though there was a rivalry between the Sting and Knights, not a lot of London fans had heard of him. His statistics were hardly awe-inspiring.

That's why fans are fans and hockey people make a living at what they do.

When Knights general manager Mark Hunter went after Larman, he targeted a player his record-breaking team was lacking. The only statistics Hunter was interesting in were the kind Larman prevented other players from adding to.

Larman is the kind of player you rarely notice. Yet what he does leads to wins, like last night's 7-3 victory over the Sting at the John Labatt Centre.

You'll find him in the faceoff circle when your team is in a close game and you absolutely need to win that faceoff.

You'll find him playing against the other team's top line.

You'll find him killing penalties and when there's a minute left and you need to protect a lead, he'll be out there yet again.

He played his old team last night and had a tremendous game. He went about doing all the things he does well, many of which rarely appear on the scoresheet.

As a bonus, he also wound up on the scoresheet, scoring the Knights first goal of the game.

Of course, that will likely be lost in the onslaught of the Knights offensive annihilation of a Sting team that tossed this season into the garbage in an effort to build for the future. The Sting aren't a very good team.

But the goal came with the Knights trailing 1-0 and they were being outshot 11-5 at the time. They were sluggish and showing a seeming disinterest against a Sting team that may not make the playoffs.

Larman went into the corner and won the puck. He fought off a Sting defenceman, came out of the corner and managed to slide the puck into the net. The period turned around on that play.

"I'm happy with the way I've been playing, but I wish I could bury a little more offensively," he said. "I'm just starting to come around now and I hope to keep it going during the playoffs."

The goal was his most obvious contribution to the 9,090 spectators. But his teammates and coaches see a great deal more.

He won big faceoffs, played well in his own zone and won a lot of battles along the boards. In the first period with the Knights down 1-0, he stopped a two-on-one rush. He got back in the second period to pressure Richard Clune when it looked as if he had an empty-netter.

Not highlight-reel stuff, but things that help a team win. It earned him a third-star selection.

"Some people didn't know me, but I had some good games against London last year," he said. "A lot of the fans didn't see us. I had to come in here and prove myself and that's what I wanted to do, to show the fans that I belong here."

Larman doesn't mind flying under the radar.

"I get noticed from coaches and teammates and that's what counts."

Then there's the personal satisfaction of being part of this team and knowing he plays a role during key times in the game.

"I'm having the time of my life," he said. "It's fun, especially taking faceoffs. It's something I've been doing all my life. It's a big part of my game. I want to be the top faceoff guy in the league. I take a lot of pride in it."

It shows, and more than just his teammates and coaches are beginning to notice.


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