Saturday Knights fever!

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

Grab some green and get ready as London is on the cusp of fashioning its greatest hockey moment.

After waiting 40 years for an Ontario Hockey League championship, only one win is needed -- but three chances to get it -- for the London Knights.

For anyone who doesn't know, the Knights meet the Ottawa 67's tonight at the John Labatt Centre in Game 5 of the championship series, which they lead 3-1.

There are signs everywhere that Knights fever has hit.

Some examples:

- More than 12,000 Knights' House of Green T-shirts sold.

- 10,000 cases of Knights commemorative bottles of Labatt Blue sold and 10,000 more cases in production.

- 5,000 Knights flags sold at Tim Hortons stores.

- London Ice Cream Co. is selling green and white "Knightscream" and Shaw's Ice Cream is selling vanilla and lime sherbet in honour of the Knights' success.

- A London flight crew posted "Go Knights Go" signs in the chartered plane the team took home from Ottawa on Thursday night.

- St. Willibrord Community Credit Union on Southdale Road has hockey nets in its branch and staff wear the green Knights T-shirts whenever the team plays.

- Every game since Pope John Paul died, a fan has brought a sign to games -- Perry for Pope.

- Lots of Internet hockey forums are talking Knights. On the Washington Capitals' site, fans give constant updates during games for those without access to London TV or radio.

On one forum, a London fan who moved to Calgary was upset he's not around to see the Knights this season.

"Those freakin' London Knights forced me to watch a lousy three-win season in 1995-96. They're a powerhouse. And here I am in Calgary. I can't watch the Knights play. I'm stuck with the lousy (Calgary) Hitmen."

In '95-96, the Knights set a record for the fewest points in the Canadian Hockey League, with nine.

Now, the team has 21 CHL and OHL records from this memorable season that isn't finished.

London has been to the OHL championship on two other occasions. The Knights lost to Ottawa in 1977 and to Belleville in 1999.

London fan Deepal Peiras said his team will not lose this time.

Peiras drove to Ottawa to see both games in the capital this week. He had an electronic sign in the back window of his car with Knights messages posted.

Today, he's going to put "London Knights, OHL champions" on the sign. "I expect them to win," he said.

London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco said it's tough to describe the frenzy surrounding this squad.

"It's just an incredible thing how it's mobilized the city. This is just something I've never seen."

DeCicco said one fan wrote a letter asking if there was a way to get everyone in the city to wear green.

"I don't know how we'd pull that one off. But in every pocket in every corner of this city . . . everyone is behind the London Knights."

Knights star Corey Perry, who has 37 points in the postseason, said he also can't believe all of the hype surrounding his team.

"I don't know if it's ever happened in the NHL. I think the roof might come off (the JLC)."

Eric Macaulay is lucky enough to have two tickets to tonight's game. "I'm going wild, crazy," he said. "I go to bed thinking about it. I dream about it."

DeCicco expects people to flock downtown tonight -- tickets or not.

"Downtown London is going to be green. Everyone is going to find a way to be down there . . . to come down and celebrate."

She doesn't expect celebrations to get out of hand if the Knights win, but she is asking people to party responsibly.

"I implore people to also be safe."

London police Const. Jeff Arbing said if there are any problems after the game, police are prepared. But extra officers won't be in the core simply because of this game.

"We don't want to try to intimidate or make it look like we're there to squelch people's fun. As a general rule, there are just not problems with the Knights hockey games."

Arbing warned fans seeking tickets to be careful about counterfeits.

"You pay $100 or $200 and . . . you can't come in, because it's a counterfeit. There's no way they'll bypass security features they have in place."


Videos

Photos