A Knight for city to party

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Incessant car horns, an occasional firecracker, passengers leaning out of windows waving Knights flags and pompoms, young folk in full cry dancing across the paving stones -- that was the scene as the John Labatt Centre emptied last night.

The celebration erupted after the London Knights won the Ontario Hockey League championship last night with a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa 67's.

Even the JLC staff stepped outside to gawk at the spreading delirium.

A police presence was apparent.

"Now, undefeated through the Memorial Cup," screamed Jamie Manz, 24, as he and companion Chris Thorogood headed out to bar hop from the rest of the night.

In contrast, Victor Orzech, waving a pompom and ringing a hand bell, wife Catherine and son Jacob, 6, were elated, along with friend Peter LeBlanc.

"We've got a youngster here," said Catherine, "so we won't be going out. It's just an amazing feeling, though.

"We don't have NHL, but the Knights made up for it."

Tickets before the game were as scarce as Ottawa goals. Those waiting outside the John Labatt Centre could not find anything at any price.

"I've been here for an hour and nothing," said one hopeful.

Rosanna Trovato and her four-year-old niece, Maria Manganaro, had to look between legs and around shoulders to watch the game from the standing room area, three and four deep.

"My two kids have season tickets. I have to fend for myself," she said. "I work across the street, so I can keep checking the box office.

"Next year, I'm getting a ticket for myself."

Trovato was staying in the arena as long as she could "to see the guys downstairs" and then head into the throng outside.

"I'm calling her (Maria's) mother to come and meet us."

Roy O'Connor of Ingersoll was ecstatic after following the Knights for 20 years.

"I was there when they only won three games one year," he said. "This is an awesome thing."

O'Connor said he likes to go to the legion on Friday nights when the Knights play. Tonight?

"I think I'll go home and drink a glass of freshie," he grinned.

Derek DeBie, 22, of Rodney, who has watched less than half of the Knights' 40-year quest for the OHL grail, said he was "going downtown to find where the party is" and celebrate with "about a dirty dozen" of friends.


Videos

Photos