Ottawa praying for a miracle

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

You'll hear no one involved with the London Knights predict that it would take an act of God for the Ottawa 67's to win tonight.

But there are enough people not associated with the team who believe just that -- that only an act of God will prevent the Knights from celebrating their first OHL championship.

The Knights and 67's play Game 5 tonight at the John Labatt Centre. They lead the series 3-1.

It's a much different situation than Sunday when the 67's left London with a split in the first two games and great expectations with the next two games in Ottawa's Civic Centre.

But the Knights shattered those hopes, winning both games on the road, the second convincingly.

The look on the faces of the 67's told a story.

And if you are an Ottawa fan, it wasn't a happy one.

They looked like a beaten team.

But the Knights remember Sunday when the 67's stung them badly, winning 6-3.

They won't underestimate the 67's because acts of God do happen.

Many years ago, Leo Cahill was the coach of the Toronto Argonauts. The Argos were playing the Ottawa Roughriders in a two-game total-point Eastern Conference final to see who would go to the Grey Cup.

The Argonauts won the first game 22-14 in Toronto, prompting Cahill to quip, "Only an act of God can beat us on Saturday."

The act of God appeared in the form of Russ Jackson, a Canadian quarterback -- and the weather. The weather froze Frank Clair Stadium (which backs onto the Civic Centre) and the Argos had brought the wrong shoes.

Jackson decimated the Argos 32-3.

"Jackson was seen walking on the Rideau Canal," one columnist intoned.

Can Mark Mancari & Co. deliver that type of miracle?

Can the situation be any more stacked against them?

Look at the storyline. The Knights' primary goal since they were awarded the Memorial Cup was to win the OHL title, to go in the front door so that no one could claim the only reason they made it was because it was handed to them. They have that opportunity tonight.

The Knights have had unprecedented support from their fans. They would love to reward them with a celebration and a skate around the JLC with the J. Ross Robertson trophy. They didn't skate around the ice when they won the Western Conference championship because, in their minds, they hadn't won anything.

They have that opportunity to win something tonight that merits more than a few trips around the ice.

On a more practical level, the Knights would love to have an extra few days off before the Memorial Cup tournament. They don't want another trip back to Ottawa. Nor do they want to run the risk of extending this series.

This city is a junior hockey city. Baseball has failed here repeatedly. As much as Western Mustangs football is recognized as an institution, it attracts nowhere near the interest of junior hockey.

Knights fans are a breed apart -- really apart some would say. After Thursday night's win in Ottawa, Barre Campbell of the Ottawa Sun watched as the Knights left the Civic Centre to a long line of fans who cheered every player and coach.

"Now that's impressive," he remarked.

Danny Syvret agreed.

"This is incredible," he said. "I don't know how many miles it is but they made what, a six-hour trip? There are at least (a hundred) that stuck around. It's amazing to see that."

The motivation to kick off the celebration tonight will drive the Knights like no other time this season.

What a celebration it will be.

As for an act of God, He'll probably sit this one out.


Videos

Photos