Knights opt for hotel during Cup stay

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

They won't be retreating to Collingwood or the Laurentians as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens used to do to prepare for their NHL playoff runs.

The OHL champion London Knights will, however, bunk into a London hotel for the Memorial Cup.

"Please don't say what hotel it is," said assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu. (And he didn't say).

The move will put the host and OHL champion Knights on equal footing or equal amenities with the other teams coming to the Memorial Cup. Play begins Saturday with the Knights facing the Quebec league champion Rimouski Oceanic and Sidney Crosby at 7 p.m. in the John Labatt Centre.

Knights goaltenders Gerald Coleman and Adam Dennis, plus third-stringer K.J. Robinson, attended an optional practice yesterday at the Western Fair Sports Centre, along with a dozen skaters. Word on who the Knights will start in goal will come later in the week. Coleman and Dennis shared duties in the OHL playoffs.

It was the initial return to the ice since the Knights nailed down the first OHL championship in their 40-year history Saturday with a 6-2 win over the Eastern Conference champion Ottawa 67's, taking the series 4-1. The 67's are also in the Memorial Cup as league runners-up.

Ottawa opens Sunday with a 4 p.m. game against the Western league champion Kelowna Rockets. The Knights and 67's, who played two regular-season games against each other (London winning both) and the five championship series games, meet May 26.

"Regular practices resume (today) at 2:30 p.m. at Western Fair," Beaulieu said.

Tomorrow's practice will be at the JLC and, following that, a Memorial Cup practice schedule to be announced by the Cup committee takes effect. Teams playing on a particular night will practise at the JLC in the morning but other practices are scheduled for Western Fair.

The Knights will go to their hotel quarters Thursday and attend the Memorial Cup banquet at the convention centre on Friday night, where they and the players from the other teams will be introduced. TV stars Don Cherry and Ron McLean will be the headliners.

After that, it's all business for the Knights.


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