Perry in reach of Knights' points record

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Not many guys in the OHL get the comfort of playing with the same linemate on the same team in the same system for nearly four years.

By the same token, not many guys get enough quality ice time as 16-year-olds to rack up a point a game in their rookie season.

Those are the thoughts Corey Perry relays when he ponders his five-year journey from a skinny bantam from Peterborough to one of the most prolific points- getters in London Knights history.

The OHL's runaway scoring leader is currently fifth on the team's all-time list with 344 points, two back of fourth-place Dino Ciccarelli and 34 behind Chris Taylor's record (378).

After a stunning 25 points in his last seven games, Perry knows he has a shot at Taylor's milestone.

"It's in the back of my mind," Perry, 19, said. "We have 17 games left so it's possible. At the end of the season, it might be overshadowed by what we do as a team but I know if it happens, I'll never forget it.

"It's an honour just to be included on the list with all the great Knights scorers."

If the six-foot-three, 197-pounder falls short of Taylor by a few goals or assists, you can blame the six games he missed as a member of Canada's gold-medal-winning world junior squad. Or you can target the three pointless games the first-round Anaheim draft pick had before exploding on his current hot streak that has yielded two consecutive OHL player-of-the-week honours.

"It's funny, all this after doing nothing for three games," Perry said. "I think these past few weeks are a product of those (scoreless) games. I just kept working hard in practice. I didn't get down on myself and the chances kept coming."

Perry credits linemates Dylan Hunter, with whom he has played for 3 1/2 years, and Rob Schremp for the points surge.

Many say the Knights' top offensive unit looks like a well-oiled machine, a characteristic bred by familiarity.

"Dylan and I came up together at the same time, so that obviously has helped," Perry said. "He knows where I'm going to be. He can make the saucer pass. He's strong, he goes in the corner to get the puck. He's able to read the play well and has great timing."

There's been little alteration in Perry's linemates, the team's philosophy or his ice time since he arrived at the old Ice House in 2001. As a 16-year-old, he recorded 58 points in 60 games while many of his peers watched their older teammates perform.

"Playing a lot that first season was a learning experience and it was a tremendous help," he said. "I have to hand it to (head coach) Dale (Hunter) and (assistant) Jacques (Beaulieu). Nothing's really changed since they took over. They really push you to be better and it drives you."

After losing the league scoring title to Ottawa's Corey Locke last year, Perry felt he had some extra motivation this season.

"I made it a personal goal to win it this year after Corey beat me by five points last season," he said. "Most goals would be nice, too. Scoring goals is what I love to do."

With 94 points, the only player who can catch Perry is Dylan Hunter and that won't happen while they're on the same line.

London plays 10 of its last 17 regular-season games on the road. Perry has 56 points in 27 games at the JLC and 38 points in 24 games away from home.

He still takes his extra helping of bumps and bruises from the opposition and said conference and divisional rivalries have increased the dosage this season. But he says he has grown from the guy who ended up easy to bait in last year's playoff loss to Guelph.

"I learned to just keep playing the game the right way. You let the refs do their jobs and concentrate on playing. You can't let anything bother you, do what you have to do and everything will take care of itself."

KNIGHTWATCH

Tonight: The Knights play Toronto St. Michael's Majors at the John Labatt Centre, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow: The Knights are in Saginaw, Mich. Game time is 7 p.m.

Sunday: They're in Guelph at 3 p.m.

CAREER SCORING

London Knights career points leaders:

1. Chris Taylor 378

2. Brian Bradley 373

3. Dennis Maruk 370

4. Dino Ciccarelli 346

5. Corey Perry 344

6. Jason Allison 325

7. Dave Simpson 321

8. Scott Morrison 316

9. Jim McRae 294

10. Dave Gilmore 289


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