Losses rare but just as painful

Morris Dalla Costa -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Rob Schremp sat in the corner staring at the floor. Steve Ferry was his mirror image.

Daniel Girardi had half his equipment on in no rush to take it off.

Throughout the dressing room the Knights were in various stages of undress or walking slowly to the showers.

There was no talking. It was quiet as a morgue.

Minutes earlier the Guelph Storm had streamed over the boards as the final horn sounded, swarming goaltender Ryan MacDonald. The sellout crowd of 4,878 stood and cheered as the Storm pinned MacDonald against the back boards celebrating their 2-1 Ontario Hockey League win yesterday.

This scene was reminiscent of a seventh game in the playoffs.

Instead it was only Game 57 for the Knights. It was only their fifth loss this season.

Come on, for crying out loud. Loosen up. It's only one loss.

This team is so far ahead of everyone else the opposition needs binoculars to see them. They'd won their previous 12 games. Anyone is entitled to a glitch every once in a while.

Tell that to the Knights.

"Of course it's quiet," centre Drew Larman said. "We expect to win every game."

He went on to say it was especially difficult losing to Guelph. "There's a real rivalry. We might meet them in the playoffs so this will give us some incentive."

And there's the point of all this.

The Knights would be upset if they lost to anyone. Teams who put themselves among the elite of junior hockey don't want to lose and when they do, it doesn't matter whether it's Game 57 or a playoff game. It chews them up.

With Guelph it's a little different. The Storm prevented the Knights from making a trip to the Memorial Cup last year. The two teams have made several trades this year and it seems they are headed for a meeting in the playoffs.

No matter how much better London is than Guelph, the Storm always seem to give the Knights problems.

Last Sunday the Knights handled the Storm, whose effort was so inferior that coach Dave Barr let them know in a less-than-subtle manner that they stunk.

Barr had to be pleased with their effort yesterday. The Storm were able to nullify the Knights' power play by aggressively attacking it and they got terrific goaltending, something missing last week.

"They worked hard, a lot harder than the last game," Girardi said. "It was disappointing to lose the game. We're trying to set some records and would like to keep winning. It's also disappointing because it's a possible playoff matchup."

Girardi was part of that Guelph team that defeated the Knights last year. This year's version is struggling as it attempts to stay ahead of Saginaw for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. He can understand their celebrations at the end of the game.

"It's a big win and we're the top team in the league," he said. "When Belleville beat us, they were really happy as well.

"When you're winning, you want to keep winning all the time, but there are times when you're going to run into bumps in the road. We just have to come back Thursday (in Windsor.)"

The Knights are done with the Storm this regular season, finishing with a 4-1-1 record. Some would suggest that this is a year when even at the top of their game, the Storm can't compete with the Knights.

Last year the Storm won the Western Conference final by getting into the Knights' heads almost as much as they did by performing in the ice.

This "bump in the road," probably won't mean much in the long run should the two teams meet in the playoffs. But with MacDonald playing the way he did and the history these two teams have, it might make it a lot more interesting.


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