Knights stroll to 50th win

JIM CRESSMAN, Free Press Sports Reporter

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

It was another banner night for those record-setting London Knights. They became the first team in OHL history to register back-to-back 50-win seasons with a 7-0 victory over the Sarnia Sting before a capacity crowd of 9,090 at the John Labatt Centre.

Trevor Kell scored three goals while goalie Gerald Coleman got the shutout as the Knights outshot the Sting 57-33 and improved to 50-4-2-0.

The Knights won the regular-season title last year at 53-11-2-2 and that 110-point total is the OHL record.

The record for most wins is 54, held by the 1984-85 Soo Greyhounds. The Canadian Hockey League mark is 60 by the 1980-81 Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League.

London has 12 games left.

Coleman's shutout is also another entry in the OHL book. It was the 10th team shutout, tying the record set by the 1997-98 Ottawa 67's.

The CHL shutout record is 14, set last season by the WHL's Kelowna Rockets.

Coleman's seven shutouts places him third on the OHL list behind Don Lockhart, who had nine with the Toronto Marlboros in 1949-50, and Len Broderick, who had eight with the Marlies in 1956-57.

"Every day I hear a new one," Coleman said of the Knights' assault on the record books.

"I'm just worried about winning and, if they come, at the end of the year we can look back and see it's amazing."

Coleman said credit for last night goes to the defence as it made his workload easy.

"It's always nice to get a shutout, they don't happen every day, but this was mostly the team. Our defence played unbelievable."

Kell was named the game's first star and wore a large sombrero onto the ice. It was among the collection of hats that rained down when he completed his hat trick with the Knights' fifth power-play goal with 21 seconds left.

"Everyone kept chucking it on my head and the guys were saying they'd give me money if I wore it out there for the star," Kell said. "I made 15 bucks from (Dan) Fritsche, (Ryan) Martinelli and (Corey) Perry. Not a bad deal."

Kell began the season with six goals in the first 10 games, then went into a slump. At one point he went 19 games without a goal. He now has 13.

"The last little while, I didn't feel I was contributing as much as I could. Then I broke the (19-game) goose egg in Saginaw (Feb. 12) and tonight felt really good."

Kell said his head is spinning with all the records.

"You can't even explain the way it feels just to be a part of this. You don't even realize it until people start telling you how big an accomplishment it is," said the second-year right-winger.

The Knights were reminded of their 31-game unbeaten streak to begin the season when a banner was hung from the JLC rafters last night.

OHL commissioner David Branch, also CHL president, participated in the pregame ceremony.

"While the journey is not over, it is important we stop and take the opportunity to recognize an outstanding achievement," Branch said to the crowd about a record that had stood since the Brandon Wheat Kings went 29 games without a loss during the 1978-79 WHL season.

"It's fitting that in their 40th year that they be recognized as one of the greatest teams to ever play . . . (and) this record is not just about wins, it's about the way the London Knights hockey club captured the attention of the entire country."

The Knights play tomorrow in Guelph, where they can set the OHL record for most road wins. They've won 23 on the road and share that record with the 1998-99 Ottawa 67's and last season's Guelph Storm.

Corey Perry scored his 39th goal and added two assists for a league-leading 102 points.

KNIGHTS 7

STING 0

GAME GLANCE

Knights 7, Sting 0

London goals: Trevor Kell (3), Corey Perry, Dan Fritsche, Danny Syvret, Dylan Hunter

Shutout: Gerald Coleman, his seventh, stopping 33 shots

Next: The Knights play in Guelph tomorrow. Game time is 3 p.m.


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