Tomfoolery helps Knights stay calm

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:13 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- There was no way one of the best teams in the history of junior hockey was going to have one final practice together without a little bit of fun.

As their workout at Western Fair wound down yesterday, the London Knights, losers of a mere nine games of the 89 they have played since the 2004-05 season began, hunted down and tackled assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu.

The Knights held Beaulieu down, taped him from head to toe, put him on a net and taped him to the top. They then put snow in his face and down his trousers. Beaulieu had no choice but to lay on top of the net for a few minutes until he was cut down and freed by trainer Don Brankley.

"That's just a year-end thing we normally do," Knights forward David Bolland said. "My first year here, we shaved off his moustache. This year we got him with the tape. We play pranks on the coaches and they do it back to us. There's a lot of respect but no grudges."

The shenanigans don't suggest the Knights were not thinking about achieving their biggest goal this season.

Their successful journey, which has included a combined record of 78-9-2 in the regular season, playoffs and Cup round-robin, will end not long after the dinner hour tonight. The Knights' combination of skill, experience and depth leads the majority of observers to believe captain Danny Syvret will hoist the first Memorial Cup in Knights history tonight.

"There have been a lot of memories," forward Corey Perry, the most talented player here not named Sidney Crosby, said.

"We want to make sure we go out on top."

Knights such as Syvret and Perry have won world junior gold medals, but none have been through the pressure Dan Fritsche has endured. Not only did Fritsche win a junior gold medal with the United States in 2004, he played in 19 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2003-04.

"I think playing in the NHL, the excitement and the adrenaline rush of being there helps," Fritsche said.

"We're ready for (today)."


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