Knights answer questions

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

The London Knights no longer need to be questioned about how they'll respond to adversity.

Their answer was loud and clear last night in a remarkable win over the Kitchener Rangers.

Remarkable? Absolutely.

David Bolland's goal 2:42 into overtime gave London a 3-1 lead in the OHL Western Conference final.

Did the Knights face adversity? Absolutely.

Trevor Kell, out. Bryan Rodney, out. Josh Beaulieu, out with a suspension. Brandon Prust, out with a suspension. Captain Danny Syvret, playing with a strained neck that hurt every time he got hit.

They were down 2-0 early in the first period. The Rangers tied it with 6.2 seconds left to force overtime.

How easy it would have been to quit. Instead, they responded.

With the Knights putting together a dreamlike regular season, teams have waited to see how they would react to adversity, injuries and pressure.

No matter what happens the rest of this series, the Knights have proved they can stare down adversity. Defencemen Marc Methot, Daniel Girardi and Syvret put in outstanding performances. As did Drew Larman, who drew the task of checking Mike Richards whenever he could.

But it was the no-headline guys, the third- and fourth-line players, the limited ice time guys, who earned this win.

Kelly Thomson, Adam Perry, Kelly Foreman -- even Harrison Reed provided the type of hard-slugging performance this club needed.

Perry and Foreman each scored a goal. Thomson undressed Matt Pepe and slid the puck to Foreman for a 4-3 lead. It looked like a Perry-to-Schremp goal. No doubt the Rangers were stunned.

"I'm not used to making a move like that," Thomson said. "But it was fun. I feel good, but it wasn't just me. There were a lot of unsung heroes, guys who don't usually get credit. They came out and played hard. It was a huge game. We didn't want to let them get back into it 2-2. We couldn't let that happen."

As for responding to adversity, "we responded to adversity all year," Thomson said. "They don't give us credit for the stuff we go through on a daily basis."

Usually it's the older Perry everyone is talking about. After last night's game, it was Perry the Younger.

"I just tried to prove to the coaching staff I could do it," he said. "It was a big relief scoring a goal. You wait all year to play in a playoff game. To score a goal feels great. With all the guys out of the lineup, it was nice that the other guys stepped up."

The did more than step up. They responded in a hostile rink and in a hostile situation.

"We're a banged-up hockey club. We have 10 healthy guys right now," said assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu.

Those 10 healthy guys put in a lot of ice time in Game 4 last night in Kitchener. As did one banged-up guy-- Syvret.

The good news is he was even able to play. Three days ago, it didn't look like that was going to happen as Syvret skated slowly off the ice in Game 3, eventually going to hospital. He played, but was stiff. And every time he took a hit, it looked agonizing. He wore an electronic muscle stimulator before the game. It was re-attached every time he came off the ice.

"It's just muscles," he said. "I felt stiff. It affected my slapshot a little, but I just have to adjust. There's no structural damage. It was sore and I couldn't move as well, but I was OK."

Syvret minimized his performance. No one else would. It was a courageous effort by a real competitor.

And it was a team effort that will be remembered not for its beauty, but for its tenacity and determination.


Videos

Photos