An ice-breaker finally for Knights battler

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

WINDSOR -- The scoring stars of the playoffs so far for the London Knights are familiar names -- Corey Perry, Rob Schremp, Dylan Hunter, for example.

But to win an OHL championship -- and ultimately a Memorial Cup title -- it's necessary for the character guys to chip in with the odd goal now and then to keep the opposition honest.

That's why a lot of the Knights felt better when hard-working Josh Beaulieu scored his first of the playoffs on a top-shelf beauty in the third period of last night's game at the Windsor Arena.

Sure, the meaningless goal made the score 9-0 for London but Beaulieu felt he had to break the ice after numerous failed scoring chances in the first two games against the Spitfires.

"It's nice to finally get one. It's a great feeling," said the 18-year-old from Comber, a 20-minute drive from here.

"I had so many chances in Game 2 (at the John Labatt Centre on Friday night) and didn't get it, so it felt good to bury one."

Beaulieu, who had dropped the mitts in four of six regular-season games against Windsor this year and who has recorded 19 fighting majors this season, didn't wait long to take on Spits tough guy Steve Downie.

The pair tangled 20 seconds after the opening faceoff and were followed 13 seconds later by London's Kelly Thomson and Windsor's Paul McFarland.

"I initiated that one, but you can kind of feel when it's coming," the six-foot-one, 185-pound Beaulieu grinned.

"It was nice because I felt it gave our team a lift and got everybody going. It can also give (Windsor) a lift if it doesn't work out."

When the games get out of hand on the scoreboard -- like it did last night and in Game 1 -- Knights head coach Dale Hunter has been in the habit of nailing his stars to the bench to avoid injuries.

It's up to guys like Beaulieu to keep working hard and make sure the opposition doesn't get a sniff of hope or positive feeling.

"It's been a lot of fun," he said. "The biggest difference between this season and last season is I'm getting a regular shift this year."

The way he's been hustling in this series, it will be hard for Hunter to keep him off the ice.


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