Knights host punchy Petes

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

OHL championship preview? Perhaps.

But the London Knights and Peterborough Petes are looking no further than tonight's game at the John Labatt Centre and the two points it means in the standings.

Well, maybe a little more than that.

The last time the two teams played, Jan. 20 in Peterborough, a line brawl broke out in the second period.

There were suspensions, including one to coach Dale Hunter, who got two games and a $5,000 fine after being ejected in the third period for the third time this season.

Oh, yes. The Petes won 6-2, handing the Knights only their fourth loss of the season.

"That's all forgotten. It's over and done with. Let's move on," was Corey Perry's approach yesterday.

The Knights forward, who leads the league with 86 points, turned public enemy No. 1 in his hometown that night two weeks ago.

He and defenceman Danny Syvret were honoured by the city for their contribution to Canada's win at the world junior championship, but the crowd turned hostile as the game heated up.

"I think the crowd in London is a little more friendly than the crowd in Peterborough that night," Perry said, smiling.

The Knights lead the Western Conference at 43-4-2-0. The Petes, rejuvenated by the return of coach Dick Todd following an 11-year absence, are second in the Eastern Conference at 24-15-6-4.

They missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 27 years, an OHL record for consecutive playoff appearances.

"The biggest thing we were missing from last year was the leadership coming right from the top from a guy like Dick," said Petes fourth-year forward Jamie Tardif.

"He demands a lot from his players, but at the same time we work hard for him. Even when he got his 500th win (in that game against the Knights), he didn't want any credit. He said, 'You guys did it all. You won the game,' and that's great from a coach."

Tardif said he is looking forward to tonight's rematch. "You've got to look forward to these games. It's a huge game and last game was quite exciting. They're going to come out really hard and try to prove a point."

The Petes, who scored five power-play goals against the Knights, have the league's third-best power play -- London is tops -- and have had the most opportunities.

"The first thing, obviously, is discipline," defenceman Marc Methot said when asked what the Knights must do differently tonight.

That was echoed by forward Dylan Hunter.

"We had a lapse in our penalty killing last time we played them. That will be the focal point -- and no stupid penalties like we had last time," Hunter said.

Knights captain Danny Syvret doesn't expect a repeat of the brawl. "It was just a game that got out of hand," he said.

"I know we're going to try to stay as disciplined as possible and just try to go out and beat them on the scoreboard.

"We did a lot of undisciplined things (and) sort of dug our own grave. . . . It was just a frustrating night that I hope won't happen this time.

"They took it to us in their arena, and we're going to try to do the same back home in front of our fans and try to show them why we're the best team in the league."

The spotlight has shone mainly on the record-breaking Knights this season.

"That's fine," Tardif said.

"They've had a great season so far and they should get recognized for it. But at the same time, they're in the spotlight. We're just going to keep doing what we're doing and see them at the end."

KNIGHTWATCH

Tonight: The London Knights play the Peterborough Petes at the John Labatt Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: The Knights play in Oshawa against the Generals starting at 2 p.m.

Tickets: Tonight's game is sold out. Some single seats and standing room remain for Feb. 18 vs. Sarnia, March 3 vs. Erie, March 4 vs. Saginaw, March 11 vs. Windsor and March 13 vs. Erie. Standing room is all that is left for March 18 vs. Owen Sound, the final home game of the regular schedule. Playoff tickets are currently on sale to season ticket holders. Sales to the general public begin March 1 at 10 a.m. More information: The Knights ticket office, 681-0800, the Gate 4 box office at the JLC or online at www.ticketmaster.ca


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