Knights dread more injuries

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

London Knights general manager Mark Hunter could only shake his head yesterday as he went down his list of casualties.

- Defenceman Danny Syvret? There's a chance the captain will play tonight, stiff neck and all.

- Defenceman Bryan Rodney? He might be back next week from a knee injury.

- Forward Trevor Kell? Out until who knows when after taking a crunching hit that caught his arm or hand.

- Defenceman Jeff Whitfield? His return before the Memorial Cup is doubtful as his ankle hasn't responded to surgery.

- Defenceman Frank Rediker? The Memorial Cup is the best guess as he recovers from a knee injury.

The Knights, with a 2-1 lead over the Kitchener Rangers in their best-of-seven OHL Western Conference final, have to hope they finish off this series in the next two games.

Prolonging it risks further injuries, the way these two teams are going at it.

The league is reviewing a hit by forward Brandon Prust on the Rangers' Matt Lashoff in Game 3 Monday, so who knows what kind of lineup the Knights will limp into Kitchener with tonight for Game 4.

The Knights also have to be looking three weeks down the road as they're already in the Memorial Cup as host team.

"If we get any more injuries, we'll be . . ." Hunter said, expressing concern with how the London-Kitchener final is going.

The penalty totals are a true reflection that this series has become progressively worse: 27 penalties in Game 1 totalling 70 minutes; 31 penalties in Game 2 for 134 minutes; 44 penalties in Game 3 for 157 minutes.

For the record, London has 184 penalty minutes, with Kitchener taking 177.

Each team had 15 power plays in Game 3, which is unheard of in the playoffs and even in the regular season.

There's already one five-game suspension to Knights forward Josh Beaulieu and the teams have combined for fines totalling $8,000.

"I think we all see it as a series that's out of control, a freight train that's gone loose and we don't know which direction it's going to head," Hunter said.

"It could head in the right direction and everything gets cleaned up, or it could be a big crash.

"I'm sure that I speak for Kitchener as well when I say no one wants to see kids hurt. We're in the wrong business if someone is trying to take a piece of flesh."

Commissioner David Branch was busy reviewing two incidents from Monday's game in which it appears players were attempting to take a piece of flesh.

Decisions will come down today.

"All are attached to injuries and that's always a primary focus," Branch said, confirming he's looking at Prust's hit on Lashoff, where Prust left his feet, drawing a charging major and game misconduct, and Ryan Donally's hit from behind on Syvret that sent him crashing head-first into the boards and out of the game, with no penalty called.

Rangers coach Peter DeBoer said Lashoff has a concussion and won't play tonight.

"(Prust) didn't seem to have any other intention except to come at me, which isn't a bad thing, but he didn't go for my body, he went for my head," Lashoff told the Kitchener Record.

Hunter described Donally's hit on Syvret as "totally wrong."

Hunter was also busy dismissing a report going around that Rodney is finished.

"I'll guarantee he is not done," he said. "I can't say when for sure, but he will play and if there's a seventh game in this series, there's a chance he could be back for that."

DeBoer took a softer approach yesterday when speaking about the officiating. He was fined $5,000 for his remarks after Game 2.

"The only way to get this back to a series of five-on-five is to start calling the diving and embellishing, otherwise we'll keep having 20 to 25 power plays a game," DeBoer said.

"That will be up to the referees. You are asking my opinion on how to get it back to five-on-five and that's my short answer. I would like to see two or three power plays in each game.

"We've had three games and there has not been a diving call yet."

KNIGHTWATCH

The series: The London Knights lead the Kitchener Rangers 2-1 in the best-of-seven OHL Western Conference final as the teams play for the Wayne Gretzky trophy.

Next: Game 4 is tonight at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Update: Adam Dennis, who played Game 3 on Monday, will start in net for the Knights, the first time in 12 playoff games they have not alternated goalies. Dennis is 6-0. Gerald Coleman was in for the Game 2 loss in Kitchener, his first setback of the postseason after four wins.


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