Knights facing familiar goalie dilemma

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

The London Knights don't have a lot of question marks heading into the playoffs.

In fact they have only one, but it's a familiar one: How to work their goaltending rotation?

Now that they have a second Ontario Hockey League regular season championship banner to hang at the John Labatt Centre, following their 7-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires last night, the Knights have 10 games to figure that question out.

Will it be Adam Dennis or Gerald Coleman in the playoffs?

Last night it was Coleman's chance to show what he could do.

"They know they are playing for a spot in the playoffs," Knights goalie coach Dave Rook said. "It's a little far off now, but I think with five games left in the regular season you see how they are doing and make a decision on that."

Last season it was Coleman and Ryan MacDonald battling for the No. 1 spot. As the Knights worked their way through the playoffs the coaching staff would decide the starter on a game-by-game basis.

It wasn't a good situation for the goaltenders. Neither was happy as they faced the additional pressure of knowing a bad game likely would cost them the next start.

Flash forward a year. Coleman is still here. MacDonald is gone, replaced by Dennis in a trade with the Guelph Storm. Coleman's numbers are sensational, but Dennis led the Storm to a Memorial Cup berth last season.

Different personnel in the same situation.

"It's better if you go with one goalie in the playoffs," Coleman said. "It was hard last year. It's definitely a better system with only one goalie playing."

Rook understood how difficult the situation was on Coleman and MacDonald last year.

"It's was tough not knowing who was going to play," he said. "When you have two good goaltenders you need to get someone into a rhythm. You want to be able to ride someone in the playoffs, take advantage of whoever is feeling good."

Coleman understands what the final few games of the season mean and he's looking forward to battling for the No. 1 spot.

"Adam and I have talked, we know what's going on," he said. "We'd both like to play, but whoever winds up going in will be supported by the other guy. The most important thing is to win."

Establishing a regular rotation during the season is not as vital as it is in the playoffs, when a team plays as often as four times a week. A hot goaltender can win you a series.

Coleman got off to a bad start last night when 56 seconds in John-Scott Dickson let a slap shot go from outside the blueline. It hit Knights' defenceman Marc Methot's stick and went in the net.

But Coleman managed to right the boat, something the coaching staff was happy to see especially since Coleman was in net during last year's wild 10-6 playoff game won by London in Windsor.

"I felt weird all day because weird things always happen here," Coleman said. "But I thought that even if it was another 10-6, I was going to make some good saves."

He did.

"I liked the way he came back from that goal," Rook said. "With everything that's happened a lot of people have lost sight of the fact that Gerald has only lost one game this year."

And Dennis is a proven game winner.

There's more at stake in the final 10 games than just individual and team records. There's a chance to backstop this team on an OHL-title run.


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