Hunter guns down Spits

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

WINDSOR -- The top-ranked London Knights weren't all that pleased about starting their OHL Western Conference semifinal on the road against seventh-seeded Windsor last night.

They also weren't too thrilled about their nine-day gap between playoff games.

But why worry about the bus and the rust when you have a punishing power play and 19-year-old goal machine Dylan Hunter?

Hunter, the OHL's second-leading scorer this season behind linemate Corey Perry, scored the game's first four goals and the Knights exploded for five power-play markers in the second period en route to an 8-0 rout of the chippy Spitfires before 3,790 last night at Windsor Arena.

"I haven't done anything like that before -- four straight goals," Hunter said with a wide grin. "It was a real lumberjack game out there. They were hacking and slashing us the whole time. It was terrible but we proved we can score on the power play when they do that kind of stuff."

London head coach Dale Hunter, Dylan's dad, was livid at the liberties Windsor took with their sticks. Earlier in the year, he vowed to make teams pay on the scoreboard for trying to hurt the Knights' stars and lived up to his word.

London scored three times on a five-minute major incurred by Windsor tough guy Steve Downie, who hacked down Knights defenceman Bryan Rodney with a wicked slash in the second period. Hunter figured the play would be reviewed by the OHL for further discipline and said Rodney was hit in the head on the play. "It was one of the worst games I've seen in a long time. It was vicious what they were doing," Dale Hunter said.

"He (referee Mark Hicks) had to call them and he could've called more," Dale Hunter continued. "That looked like their game plan -- to hurt our star players and slash them in the arms. I tried to keep our guys calm and told them to score on the power play, but they were out there hacking when it was five-on-three.

"There's not much you can do about that except keep some of the guys off the ice. Corey Perry played once in the third period."

The series opener didn't do much to sway most pundits' prediction of a London four-game sweep but it certainly set the table for a lot of bad blood no matter how many games the two teams play.

The Knights have beaten the Spits 18 straight games dating back to 2003 and go back at it again tonight at the John Labatt Centre.

"I told our guys before the game not to take dumb penalties but either they weren't listening or I didn't speak loud enough," Windsor coach Dave Prpich said. "If we keep that up, not only will it be a short series, but we won't even get the chance to compete."

After Downie was ejected, he faked a move to go after London goalie Adam Dennis as he skated past the puckstopper toward the Windsor dressing room.

"I didn't say anything to him," Dennis said. "I don't know what that was about."

The London goalie, who made his first start of the playoffs on the road this year, waited 10 minutes before facing Windsor's first shot. He made 26 saves for a solid shutout.

"In the playoffs, a shutout's a shutout," he said. "Wins are all that matter. It doesn't matter if it's 8-7 or 8-0."

Windsor starting goalie Kyle Knechtel, who starred in the first-round win over the Soo, was replaced in the second period after the Knights' fifth goal and replaced by Brad Topping. It was more of a mercy yank by Prpich than a statement of his performance.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 8, Spitfires 0

Knights goals: Dylan Hunter (four), David Bolland, Rob Schremp, Danny Syvret, Trevor Kell

Shutout: Adam Dennis

Next: Game 2 is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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