Hunter vital to Perry's record hunt

Morris Dalla Costa, Free Press sports columnist

, Last Updated: 1:15 PM ET

Somewhere along the line, Corey Perry is going to break the London Knights' record for career points. Don't be surprised if Dylan Hunter has had a hand in it. He and Perry have fit together like a hand in a glove.

Perry couldn't break the record in the Knights' 5-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires last night at the John Labatt Centre. He earned one point, leaving him one short of tying Chris Taylor's record.

But it's just a matter of time.

For someone who has played such a vital role not only in Perry's but also the team's success, Hunter has hardly earned the kind of accolades befitting a guy who is second in Ontario Hockey League scoring.

In some ways that's not surprising. He doesn't have the finesse of a Perry, the raw power of a David Bolland or the flash and dash of a Rob Schremp.

On a night when Hunter gets five points, Perry earns seven. On a night when he winds up with four assists, Schremp might score four goals.

But after last night's game against the Spitfires, Hunter has 31 goals and 101 points. He is a key component in the power play, taking the puck at the side of the net and deciding who is going to get it.

He is playing the game with a tenacity that resembles the style of play his dad -- Knights coach Dale Hunter -- used to survive 19 years in the NHL.

Hunter goes about the business of making his linemates better players. Three years ago, under criticism for being the coach's kid, few people would have believed he could put together this type of junior career.

His performance against Windsor was typical. He set up two goals, worked the power play, dug the puck out of the corners, killed a few penalties. As the season winds down, he'll be seeing less ice time, like most of the top Knights players.

Perry is the exception until he breaks the franchise points record.

If you're waiting for Hunter to take a lot of credit for how he has helped Perry toward the record, forget it. He's about as modest a player as you'll find. He has no problem operating in the background.

"We're having such a great year as a team that even (Perry) is in the background almost," said Hunter. "I guess (I'm a little in the background). I like it that way. I slide in under the radar. I get to do my job. If people notice fine, if they don't that's great, too.

"I know I just do my job."

Hunter will admit to some satisfaction with what he has done this season.

"I never expected to have this kind of season. All I want is to do better than I did the year before. I'm happy."

Hunter and Perry have played together so long, they have developed a relationship. Hunter has assisted on a third of Perry's goals this year. Perry has assisted on 24 of Hunter's 31 goals.

They have both assisted on other goals 18 times.

"He knows where I am, I know where he is. We know what each other can do. I think we play off each other well," Hunter said.

As much as he has helped Perry, his 70 assists this season, which is second in the league to Perry, is bona-fide proof how much he has helped other teammates, especially on the power play. He's a player with infinite patience at the side of the net, looking for someone to dish the puck off to.

"It's tough to make a choice,"said Hunter. "You have (Schremp) and (Perry) and (Bryan) Rodney or (Danny Syvret) coming down the slot. They're helping me out a lot. I just give them the puck and they are doing the rest. Our power play is really clicking and everyone is firing on all cylinders."

Hunter has been making the right decision far more often than not.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 5, Spitfires 1

London goals: Corey Perry, Dan Fritsche, Trevor Kell, Brandon Prust, Josh Beaulieu (penalty shot)

Windsor goal: Iain McPhee

Next: The Knights play the Erie Otters tomorrow at the John Labatt Centre starting at 2 p.m.


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