Ex-Knight answers critics

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

GUELPH -- Just call it Ryan's revenge. One week after losing his first start against his former teammates, Guelph goaltender Ryan MacDonald shone in the rematch, leading the Storm to a surprising 2-1 win over London before a sellout crowd of 4,878 yesterday afternoon at the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre.

Guelph forward Matt D'Agostini ripped a wrist shot over the glove of Knights goalie Adam Dennis 2:01 in the third period and that stood up as the winner thanks to several of MacDonald's miracle saves.

The loss, which snapped a 12-game win streak, was just London's fifth this season and prevented the Knights from setting the OHL record for road wins in a season. They're stuck at 24 away from home -- tied with last year's Storm and the 1998-99 Ottawa 67's.

MacDonald kicked aside 27 shots, including a late flurry as London swarmed the crease. He was named first star and outplayed Knights goalie Adam Dennis, the guy he was dealt for last month at the trade deadline.

"After last week's game (a 4-1 Guelph loss), I read the papers in both cities and felt I was tripped by the media and a couple of people," the 19-year-old from Chesley said. "I had a full week to think about it and I wanted to stick it to them and show some people I could do the job. Personally, it was a big win for me and for our team. We're not the No. 1 team in the country. They are.

"And if we face them in the first round of the playoffs, that's fine. If we battle like that, we have a chance.

"Hopefully, it's an eye-opener for them that it's not going to be easy."

It hasn't been easy to make history against Guelph this year. London tied the Storm 0-0 in a nail-biter on Dec. 10 to break the Canadian Hockey League record of 29 games without a loss.

"This is a real rivalry," MacDonald said. "It goes back to last year when I was with London and Guelph beat us in the playoffs. They -- we -- always get up to play London.

"I didn't do this myself. The guys worked hard and I was square to the puck and the defence let me see the shots and when that happens, you feel good."

No matter who's in net, London has struggled to score against Guelph this year. The Knights finished 4-1-1 in the head-to-head series but only had 16 goals in the six games.

Yesterday, London forward Robbie Schremp scored 54 seconds into the first period, but MacDonald barred the door for the rest of the game.

"Macker played well and good for him," Knights head coach Dale Hunter said. "I don't mind saying that when a kid plays well. Some games, you have your chances but run into hot goaltending We outchanced them (21-8 in the game) but he made some big stops. He was the difference."

Several of London's key players were huffing and puffing late in the third period thanks, in part, to a rapidly shrinking bench.

Knights forward David Bolland missed the second and third periods with the flu, while Josh Beaulieu left after injuring his hand in a first-period fight.

Defenceman Jeff Whitfield was shaken up after taking a puck in the left ear while sitting on the bench in the third period. He later returned to finish the game.

With Owen Sound's 4-3 loss in Ottawa yesterday, London missed a chance to clinch its second straight Hamilton Spectator trophy as regular season champion and earn home ice advantage throughout the OHL playoffs.

"We didn't know about that -- or the road wins -- and it doesn't matter to us now," MacDonald said with a grin.

After the game, you got the impression MacDonald wouldn't mind seeing his old mates again.

If he plays the way he did yesterday, that might not be good for London's playoff health.

GAME GLANCE

Storm 2, Knights 1

Guelph goals: Ryan Kitchen, Matt D'Agostini

London goal: Robbie Schremp

Next: The Knights head to Windsor to play the Spitfires on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.


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