Knights' U.S. express keeps on rolling

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

They are the London Knights' all-America line.

Dan Fritsche, Rob Schremp and Drew Larman have seen ice time together.

Coach Dale Hunter will tinker with his lines but he always comes back to this trio at some point. It's a line that has struck fear into the hearts of the opposition in these OHL playoffs.

Fritsche, from Parma, Ohio, is a power forward, a tenacious checker and a playmaker.

Schremp, who is from Fulton, N.Y., is fast on his skates with great creative smarts and a powerful shot.

Larman, from Canton, Mich., is sound defensively.

It's a perfect blend.

Fritsche, a Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick, was the last of the three to be acquired by the Knights, coming from the Sarnia Sting at the Jan. 10 deadline.

Schremp, an Edmonton Oilers pick, came from the Mississauga IceDogs in October 2003, while Larman was obtained from Sarnia in October 2004.

"We're having a lot of fun out there. It seems like we really picked it up a lot," Fritsche said yesterday.

"This series (the championship final against Ottawa) and the Kitchener series (the Western Conference final) -- the playoffs is just a fun time to play. I like to think that's when I step up my game, and I'm enjoying it a lot."

Controversy followed Fritsche's departure from Sarnia, fans claiming he had quit on his team.

Those accusations hurt and he set out to prove with the Knights that he isn't a quitter.

"I've been looking forward to winning a championship, no matter where you're at. And unfortunately, that escaped me in Sarnia. We let that slip by," he said. "But the second I got traded here, I knew was going to have a great chance to do something."

Knights assistant coach Jeff Perry, a Sarnia native who coached Fritsche his first 2 1/2 seasons with the Sting, understands the disappointment back home.

"They're disappointed because at the end of the day they lost a marquee player," Perry said.

"In fairness to Danny, it's his last year of junior and he wanted to be part of something that would give him a good opportunity to go to the Memorial Cup.

"And certainly we knew his work ethic is second to none, so we were excited to get him."

Fritsche has eight goals and 12 points in 16 playoff games (a goal and three assists against the 67's), but success isn't always measured by statistics.

"He not only brings a work ethic to his own game, he raises the level of play of the guys who play with him," Perry said.

Fritsche has proved to be an effective penalty killer when Trevor Kell went down in the Kitchener series with a broken hand.

During one penalty kill in Game 2 against the 67's, Fritsche stripped two players of the puck in their own zone.

"His puck pressure creates havoc on the forecheck," Perry said. "And he can play both ends of the rink. When you've got those intangibles, you've got a pretty special player."

Larman, who had a goal and an assist in Thursday's 4-1 win in Ottawa, enjoys being re-united with his old teammate.

Larman gained a ton of respect for Fritsche while they were in Sarnia.

"He always goes all-out all the time," Larman said. "He's definitely a threat every time he's out on the ice, forechecking, digging pucks out of the corner and making things happen.

"He really creates a lot of something out of nothing."

Fritsche said what's in the past -- including surgery on both shoulders while with the Sting -- is in the past.

"When I came back to Sarnia last year after being in the NHL (19 games), I played as hard as I did the year before" is all he'll say.

One thing is for sure, the NHL isn't on his mind right now.

"The NHL is non-existent. You don't even think about it. I'm playing for an OHL championship right now and I'm going to be playing for the Memorial Cup in another week.

" I'm still playing hockey. I could have been done 2 1/2 months ago. The OHL championship is the next goal in my hockey career and I want to accomplish it."


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