OWEN SOUND -- Last night is the reason why the London Knights obtained goalie Adam Dennis from the Guelph Storm at the Jan. 10 Ontario Hockey League trading deadline. He showed last year he's a big-money goalie when the Storm upset the Knights in seven games in the Western Conference final.
Last night, Dennis showed once again that his reputation is earned as he stopped 41 of 43 Owen Sound Attack shots in a 3-2 Knights victory before a sellout crowd of 3,657 at the Harry Lumley Centre.
It was the largest crowd in the franchise's 16-year history as the top two teams in the league gave a playoff-like performance.
Th Knights are 42-4-2-0, the Attack 31-10-5-2, and it may be a preview of this year's conference final.
The Knights lead the season series 4-1. They play once more, March 18 at the John Labatt Centre.
Owen Sound's lone win over the Knights came here on Dec. 29, 3-0, but with the Knights' Corey Perry and Danny Syvret playing for Canada at the world junior championship and Rob Schremp with the U.S.
It's games like last night that a team can look back on during the playoffs to provide a psychological advantage over an opponent.
The Storm had given the Knights a good run during the regular season last year and drew on that when the two met up in the postseason.
"Right now we're just worrying about the two points," Dennis said. "They're a great team. If we meet them in the (conference) finals, it's going to be a great series.
"We made a couple deals and it's nice to see the guys gelling. Games like these bring the team closer."
Dennis shrugged off the suggestion he's a big-money goalie.
"You try and play the same game every game you come out. You can't change your game just because of who you're playing."
Drew Larman got the Knights on the board with his second goal in as many games, scoring at 17:56 of the first period.
A shot from a bad angle by Josh Beaulieu struck Larman on the skate, went off the post and made it just over the goal line before Attack goalie Mike Brown pulled it out.
Syvret gave the Knights a 2-0 lead with his 14th of the season at 9:01 of the second period.
Syvret, the trailer, was set up by Jordan Foreman, who returned from his three-game suspension for resisting a linesman Jan. 20 in Peterborough.
Stefan Ruzicka scored a power-play goal for the Attack at 13:02 of the second period, his 29th of the season.
Dylan Hunter's 25th goal gave the Knights a 3-1 lead at 3:17 of the third period.
OHL scoring leader Perry drew an assist, his 80th point in 42 games. He missed a half-dozen games while with the Canadian juniors.
Jeff Kyrzakos, who left Western Michigan University at Christmas, scored his first goal for the Attack with 45 seconds remaining and Brown lifted for a sixth skater.
"You like a lot of shots," Dennis said of the 16 he saw in the third period. "It makes it easier to stay focused."
Attack right-winger Bobby Ryan, second on the team with 26 goals and 62 points and a sure-fire top-five pick in the next National Hockey League draft, is still a week or two away from returning to the lineup.
He suffered a shoulder injury in the CHL-NHL top prospects game Jan. 19 in Vancouver.
"Maybe next weekend," the 17-year-old said. "It's a case of mind over matter now. There's still some pain but once I get comfortable with stick on puck, I'll be good to go."
Ryan was sorry he had to sit out last night and said a London-Owen Sound conference final "is definitely a possibility.
"We're looking forward to it because London has obviously established themselves as the top team and we've been in their shadow."
Although most of the attention has been on the Knights, Ryan said "we're right where we want to be with that. We're doing what we have to do."
Perry, Syvret, Dennis, Hunter, Schremp, David Bolland, Marc Methot and Dan Girardi will all be back here Tuesday and Wednesday, representing the Knights in the OHL All-Star Classic.
KNIGHTS 3, ATTACK 2
London goals: Drew Larman, Danny Syvret, Dylan Hunter
Owen Sound goals: Stefan Ruzicka, Jeff Kyrzakos
Next: The Knights play the Kingston Frontenacs tonight at the John Labatt Centre, starting at 6 p.m.