Knights await Rangers

JIM CRESSMAN, Free Press Sports Reporter

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

No rest for the victors. The London Knights are back on the ice this afternoon at the John Labatt Centre for a practice as they begin preparing for the Kitchener Rangers and the OHL Western Conference championship series.

General manager Mark Hunter said yesterday the best-of-seven set will likely open next Thursday or Friday at the John Labatt Centre.

Hunter and Rangers coach-GM Peter DeBoer must have the dates filed with the league office by noon today. They had not yet spoken as of last night.

"I still have to talk with him and see what the situation is with their building," Hunter said of the availability of the Rangers' home arena, the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

The league will allow the conference finals to begin as early as Tuesday, but the JLC isn't available. It's also booked for non-hockey events on April 23, 24 and 26.

DeBoer said the Memorial Auditorium "is fairly open."

Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said the players were at the JLC yesterday and rode stationary bikes for 20 minutes "to have a stretch."

But no practice was scheduled after the Knights finished off the Windsor Spitfires with a 2-1 win Wednesday night to sweep their conference semifinal.

"You don't want to burn them out at this point," Beaulieu said. The Knights will also be off on Saturday.

"It'll be a fun practice (today), four-on-four stuff, to make sure the guys have a good sweat. Then Sunday we're going to start teaching them what we want them to execute in the first game."

The coaching staff has already started watching game tapes involving the Rangers.

As far as the starting goalie goes, Beaulieu said that decision has not yet been made.

"By Tuesday I'm sure we'll know what's going on," he said of going with either Adam Dennis or Gerald Coleman in Game 1.

The Rangers skated yesterday after knocking off the Owen Sound Attack on Tuesday night.

Kitchener swept that series as well, a surprise since the Attack finished second overall in the OHL, behind the Knights.

"Everybody would probably say Owen Sound had the more talented team but we had more grit and character and that's what won us the series," DeBoer said after Tuesday's win.

"Everybody has known since September that the play-off trail would go through London.

"The nice thing is, we've given ourselves some time off here to rest."


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