Ugly works for Knights

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

KITCHENER -- The London Knights ripped a page from the Kitchener Rangers playbook last night.

"It's an ugly one. They're never going to be pretty in these games, just whacking and hacking in front of that net trying to smack it in," David Bolland said of his goal 2:42 into overtime that gave the Knights a 5-4 win and a 3-1 lead in the OHL Western Conference final.

The game was played before a season-high crowd of 6,501 at the Memorial Auditorium.

Game 5 is tomorrow night at the John Labatt Centre, where the Knights have lost only one of 40 games this season -- in December, when the Sudbury Wolves ended their record-setting 31-game unbeaten streak.

The Knights didn't have a full lineup that night as Corey Perry, Danny Syvret and Rob Schremp were at the world junior championship.

"That's our home rink, that's where we come to play," Bolland said. "We've got to come out and play hard and finish it up there and not come back and play here."

The Knights would like nothing better than to wrap it up tomorrow. The Ottawa 67's are waiting for the Western champs as they won the Eastern title last night.

The 67's beat Peterborough 3-2 in OT in Ottawa to sweep. Should the Knights win the West, the 67's will automatically be going to the Memorial Cup May 21-29 in London, as the Knights are the host team.

The Rangers forced OT as Craig Voakes of St. Thomas scored his second goal of the game with 6.2 seconds showing on the clock. Voakes lifted a rebound over a sprawled Adam Dennis, who had made two sparkling saves.

Dennis was playing his second straight game, the first time in the playoffs the Knights haven't alternated goalies. Expect to see Dennis tomorrow night.

Bolland, who said the players were a little down in the dressing room during the intermission, hacked and whacked away at a couple of rebounds before finally putting the puck in the net.

It was his sixth goal of the postseason.

It's interesting that Bolland chose the words "hack" and "whack" after coach Dale Hunter had just finished complaining again about the Rangers' style of play.

Referee Mark Hicks called only 15 minor penalties, a stark contrast to the first three games.

"They started hacking and whacking again . . . our guys have got ice packs all over their bodies," Hunter said.

"It's an embarrassment to the league. Kids are getting hurt because of this. It's bad for the league and they won't stop. If I was a skilled guy coming into this league, I'd be a little iffy-iffy."

Rangers coach Peter DeBoer was told of Hunter's claim. "It's getting old. Let's move on," DeBoer replied.

The Rangers must win three straight games to take the series and the Knights haven't lost three in a row all season.

DeBoer got a little testy when asked how his team prepares for a daunting task at the JLC.

"Do you want me to stand up here and tell you how great the London Knights are? You've got the wrong guy," DeBoer shot back.

"We've heard that all year. If you want to talk about the Kitchener Rangers and the character we showed tonight and the no-quit and the fact we're playing a team with 14 graduating players and we're giving them everything they can handle, let's talk about that."

The Knights didn't have forward Brandon Prust, suspended three games, which left them without their top checking line since Josh Beaulieu was already suspended five games for a cross-check in Game 2 and Trevor Kell went down in Game 3 with a broken hand.

Prust isn't happy with his suspension.

"You should get me when I'm calmed down," he said.

"I just don't understand how (David) Clarkson can break (Kell's) wrist with a jumping hit and he gets nothing."

OHL referee-in-chief Ted Baker said the Clarkson incident was reviewed and did not warrant a suspension.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 5, Rangers 4 (OT)

The series: London leads Kitchener 3-1 in the best-of-seven OHL Western Conference final.

London goals: Adam Perry, Rob Schremp, Dan Fritsche, Jordan Foreman and David Bolland, 2:42 into overtime

Kitchener goals: Craig Voakes (2), Adam Keefe, Andre Benoit

Next: Game 5 is tomorrow at the John Labatt Centre at 7:30 p.m.


Videos

Photos