Another step closer

Kelowna Rockets forward Clayton Bauer (right) misses his hit on London Knights defenceman Marc...

Kelowna Rockets forward Clayton Bauer (right) misses his hit on London Knights defenceman Marc Methot during Memorial Cup action in London, Ont. on Monday, May 23, 2005. (London Free Press/Morris Lamont)

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Corey Perry may not be named Canadian Hockey League player of the year today, but the London Knights right-winger would gladly exchange that for a Memorial Cup ring.

"I guess it's halfway there," Perry said last night after scoring two goals in the Knights' 4-2 win over the defending champion Kelowna Rockets before 8,905 fans at the John Labatt Centre.

Drew Larman also scored twice as the Knights improved to 2-0, assuring themselves of at least a berth in Saturday's semifinal. If the Knights beat the Ottawa 67's on Thursday, they get a bye to Sunday's championship game. In 11 of the past 12 years, the team that received the bye has won.

Perry, battling Rimouski Oceanic scoring star Sidney Crosby for top player, said the Knights were already aware of the importance of the Ottawa game. "We want to play for the bye, but Ottawa is playing well. They battled Kelowna in double overtime and came out with the win. We want to go in to Thursday's game on a high and play on a high."

Being 2-0 is heady stuff for the Knights, who are in the tournament for the first time in their 40-year history.

They opened with an impressive win over the Oceanic on Saturday, then used their speed to beat the Rockets' trap last night.

The teams traded goals in the first period, Kelowna's Troy Bodie scoring at the 39-second mark, the second straight game the Knights gave up an early goal. Larman tied it at 7:16 off a weak wrist shot that beat Rockets goalie Kristofer Westblom.

Westblom, 18, took over from starter Derek Yeomans when he injured his leg in the Western league final against Brandon.

Perry scored his first goal at 7:22 of the second period, cashing in his own rebound.

"I fell down in the neutral zone and it was a four-on-two, and luckily Dylan Hunter was backchecking and made a good play to get the puck back up to me," Perry said.

"I know (David) Bolland was with me, but I didn't know if he was up with me and the D was coming over, so I wanted to get a shot."

Perry then made it 3-1 with a power-play goal at 14:02.

Larman scored a 6:50 of the third period on a shot from just inside the blue-line, before Darren Deschamps got a short-handed marker for the Rockets at 10:46.

Knights defenceman Danny Syvret, favoured to be named CHL defenceman of the year today, said he is amazed every night with how Perry raises his game.

"He stepped up in the big games as you saw on the world junior stage and as you're seeing here," said Syvret, the team captain.

"He's a tough guy to hold down and play against. Obviously he makes our defence a lot better. We play against him every practice, and I think that's why our defence corps is doing so well because we have the Corey Perrys and Dylan Hunters and the Rob Schremps to play against in every practice.

"There's things that always amaze me in him, whether it be practice, in the game or in warmup. The talent he has is very tremendous, and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are very fortunate to have him."

The Rockets, 0-2, are in trouble. They must win tomorrow against Rimouski to keep alive their chances of a repeat or they are on a plane home early.

The Rockets were back on the the ice last night after a double-overtime loss to Ottawa on Sunday in the longest game since the Memorial Cup went to a tournament format in 1972.

"I thought we came out with some pretty good energy early and then halfway through the period, they gained some momentum and the second period was all theirs," said Rockets coach Jeff Truitt.

"(Fatigue) did creep into it in the second period . . . and when you are a little bit tired coming off that game (Sunday), the feet and your mind aren't quite as sharp."

To top it off, the Rockets had been awakened in the wee hours the previous two nights by false fire alarms.

"It gets a little frustrating but we have to battle through that stuff," Truitt said.


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