Perry makes his points

London Knights forward Corey Perry leaps into the arms of linemate Dylan Hunter yesterday at the...

London Knights forward Corey Perry leaps into the arms of linemate Dylan Hunter yesterday at the John Labatt Centre after breaking the team's all-time scoring record with an assist on a second-period goal against the Erie Otters. (London Free Press/Dave Chidley)

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

The torch has been passed and Corey Perry has made sure it's burning brightly.

He's lit it up during his four-year OHL career, becoming the London Knights' all-time points leader yesterday with a goal and two assists in a 9-1 romp over the Erie Otters at the John Labatt Centre.

Perry has 380 points, two ahead of Chris Taylor, who played with London 1988-89 through 1991-92.

Taylor, 33, is with the AHL's Rochester Americans.

Perry's record-breaking point came on a goal by defenceman Daniel Girardi at 14:27 of the second period, making it 5-1 London.

Perry passed the puck back to Girardi at the blue-line.

"I just went to the net, maybe looking for a rebound, but it went top corner, so I was pretty happy," Perry said.

The 9,090 fans, who gave him a standing ovation when he tied Taylor with a first-period goal, were on their feet again as Knights players poured over the boards to congratulate their teammate.

Perry added another assist on Rob Schremp's 40th goal of the season in the third period.

Perry leads the OHL with 130 points, including 47 goals, and is poised to become only the third Knight in the team's 40-year history to win the scoring crown. Dave Simpson won in 1981-82 and Jason Allison in 1993-94.

"It's nice to get it over and done with and move on now," Perry said of chasing the team record.

"What's next right now is the OHL championship. That's what we've got on our minds and after that it's the Memorial Cup. We're just taking it one step at a time."

Perry came to the Knights in 2001, their first pick in that year's draft, fifth overall.

"It feels like a long time ago and then there are times it doesn't," he said.

"I can still remember walking in the Ice House for training camp my first year and saying to myself 'I'm going to play in the OHL this year.' "It was just a big thrill."

He scored 28 goals his rookie season and credits coach Dale Hunter for his success.

"It starts right from Dale. He's given me the opportunity to play every night since I got here. I played a lot of minutes my first year and I gained so much experience from that. In practice he's always there, always teaching the kids."

Perry recalled playing with Rick Nash and Charlie Stephens his first year. "There's guys like that that brought me along and taught me so much. There's all kinds of guys that taught me so much about the game."

Hunter said Perry earned his ice time that first season and has earned everything since -- including a first-round selection by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the 2003 NHL draft, a spot on this year's gold-medal world junior team and the OHL scoring title.

"He just gets better and better and better every year," Hunter said. "He got a lot of ice time his rookie year, but he was good also."

Perry has 140 goals and 240 assists in 252 career games. He had only 31 assists as a rookie.

"He was a scorer when he came but he's become a complete player," Hunter said.

"Every kid wants to score but when you dish it around like he does, it's hard to defend against."

Hunter said it's difficult to break a team scoring mark these days with the game changing so much in the past 10 years.

"It's a tight defensive system that everybody plays, so to break this record is pretty tough."

Taylor said from Rochester last night: "I congratulate him, that's great. I'm glad he finally got it, it takes a load off his mind anyway. Now he can go on and play the way he can; hopefully he can get 50 goals . . ."

Perry is second in Canadian Hockey League scoring, 27 points behind Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic, who has 64 goals and 93 assists for 157 points.

Perry and Crosby were linemates at the world juniors.

The Oceanic, unbeaten in their past 25 games, could be in the Memorial Cup. They have only three games left, so they can't challenge the Knights' CHL-record 31-game undefeated mark but Perry welcomes a Crosby appearance here in May.

"We knew Sidney would eventually pick it up and run away with it, which he has," Perry said. "He's a great player and I think it's unbelievable just to finish second (to him) in CHL scoring."

CAREER SCORING

London Knights career points leaders:

1. Corey Perry 380; 2. Chris Taylor 378; 3. Brian Bradley 373; 4. Dennis Maruk 370; 5. Dennis Ververgaert 351; 6. Dino Ciccarelli 346; 7. Jason Allison 325; 8. Dave Simpson 321; 9. Scott Morrison 316; 10. Reg Thomas 309

GAME GLANCE

Knights 9, Otters 1

London goals: Kelly Thomson (2), Rob Schremp (2), Danny Fritsche, Corey Perry, Daniel Girardi, Steve Ferry, Jordan Foreman

Erie goal: Andrew Shennan

Next: The Knights play Owen Sound Friday at the John Labatt Centre at 7:30 p.m.


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