Knight-mare in London

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:08 PM ET

LONDON -- The 67's knew before the OHL final they'd need to stay out of the penalty box to hold off the potent offence of the Knights.

They didn't do that, and the high-flying Knights made them pay in the opening game of the OHL championship last night.

League MVP Corey Perry and Danny Fritsche scored London's first two goals on power plays and the Knights got outstanding goaltending from Adam Dennis during a 4-2 win at the John Labatt Centre.

Ottawa gets a chance to rebound and even the series when it resumes tomorrow afternoon here.

The 67's failed to duplicate their feat of the first three playoff rounds when they won the opening game on the road against Barrie, Sudbury and Peterborough.

The underdog 67's trailed 3-0 heading into the third, but made a game of it with a pair of power-play markers of their own early in the period to narrow the gap to within one.

And they nearly tied it up before Rob Schremp sealed it for the Knights with a power-play goal in the 11th minute of the third.

London got the man advantage after a questionable call by referee Mark Hicks against Ottawa rookie defenceman Derek Joslin.

Along the boards in the Ottawa zone near the 67's bench, Joslin put his hands on the back of Knights forward Robbie Drummond, who appeared to throw himself into the boards, with Joslin having little to do with the play.

Hicks raised his arm and called cross-checking, while Joslin appeared shocked as he skated toward the penalty box

"As soon as he felt that I was behind him, he put himself into the boards," said Joslin.

The 67's weren't too happy with the call, either.

Coach Brian Kilrea became irritated when asked about it during a televised press conference following the game and said he didn't see the play.

Captain Will Colbert, who was on the ice at the time, thought it was a weak call.

Penalties, however, dogged the 67's most of the night.

They trailed 1-0 after the first on a wraparound goal by Perry during a power play. Bryan Bickell was in the box for elbowing David Bolland.

Then, in the second, the Knights struck during a two-man advantage.

Ottawa's procession to the box began in the fifth minute of the period when Brad Bonello checked Fritsche from behind.

Sixty-five seconds later, Bickell got called for a high stick to Perry's face that put the Knights up two skaters.

And before Fritsche made it 2-0 on a backhander off a scramble in front to get the puck past Danny Battochio, Brad Staubitz went to the box for charging at Perry behind the net and hitting him in the face.

"When you get cross-checked in the face, you can't go blindside on that one," said Perry, meaning the ref couldn't ignore the call despite the fact Ottawa was down two men.

The 67's replied with some pressure of their own, but Dennis continually denied Ottawa's chances, making great saves on Jakub Petruzalek and Lukas Kaspar within a one-minute span, allowing his team to retain the two-goal lead.

"He played very well," London coach Dale Hunter said of his goalie.

Kelly Thomson scored his second goal of the playoffs later in the period to give the Knights a 3-0 lead.

But the 67's nearly got back in it in the third, getting power-play goals from Staubitz and Petruzalek, the latter during a two-man advantage.

Ottawa nearly tied it moments later when Dennis got a glove on a shot by London native Mark Mancari. The puck dropped into the crease and lay there for a second before the Knights cleared it out of harm's way.

"We proved to ourselves that we could play with them. We knew it before, but we just have to keep going like that," said Colbert.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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