Oceanic swamps Ottawa

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

The London Knights get one more shot at Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic.

Or is it the other way around?

It was the Knights, after all, who beat the Oceanic 4-3 in overtime in the opening game of the 2005 Memorial Cup.

The Oceanic advanced to today's dream final with a 7-4 win over the Ottawa 67's last night before a sellout crowd of 8,905 at the John Labatt Centre.

A chant of "Go Knights Go" filled the JLC with 2:57 remaining.

It'll be a quick turnaround for the Quebec league champions after getting off the ice at 9:45 p.m. The puck will drop just after 4:30 p.m. and the OHL champion Knights have been resting since wrapping up the round-robin on Thursday.

The 17-year-old Crosby stepped with three goals and two assists to take over the tournament scoring lead with six goals and five assists for 11 points in four games.

"They're a great team and we have to play our game," Crosby said of the Knights.

"It's going to be our toughest test and it's right, the two top teams going at it. We just have to bring our best game and leave it all on the ice.

"We can't think about anything other than bringing our best game. We can't think about results. We can't think about winning or losing.

"You can talk about playing two (games) in less than 24 hours, but for a lot of us this is our last (junior) game and we're going to leave it all out there. We just don't want to have any regrets."

Nobody is regretting today's pairing as it pits Canadian world junior linemates Crosby and the Knights' Corey Perry in a head-to-head showdown as both players end their Canadian Hockey League careers.

Perry has four goals and two assists in three games here.

The Knights have lost only two of 47 home games this season and also have some history on their side as the team that's had the bye has won the championship 11 of the last 12 years.

"We earned the right to play here, too," Crosby said when asked if his team might be intimidated by a team playing so well in its own building.

"I don't think it came by fluke. I think we deserve to be there. We're going to try to give them a game and we'll see what happens.

"They have a great team and to go through that first game (against the Knights), we realize how tough we have to play.

"I think as a team we've improved as the tournament's gone on and defensively I think that was our best effort (last night)."

The 67's didn't do the Knights any favours by physically laying off Crosby for most of the game, something that surprised even him.

"I prepare for the worst every time I go in (in the corners)," he said. "I prepare to be checked and sticked a lot, but there wasn't as much as I thought.

"I'm not complaining by any means. I don't expend as much energy."

Ottawa forward Mark Mancari, a London native who turns 20 in July, fought back the tears.

"It's going to be a bitter taste in our mouths, but you can't take all negatives away from it," he said.

"There are 56 teams that wanted the opportunity to play here and we're very honoured.

"We thought we could have played a lot better and we showed some glimpses of being a good competitor today . . . (but) we know we're a better hockey team.

"We felt we could have brought a lot more to the table, but this is something we'll never forget. This is an opportunity a lot of guys never have and I'm very honoured that we had the chance."

Goalie Danny Battochio struggled after being the reason his team won the OHL Eastern Conference. That automatically put the 67's in the Memorial Cup when the Knights won the Western Conference.

"Things started to go wrong, we tried to correct it and we just tried to do more than we should and we were just making it harder on ourselves," Battochio said.

"Even from my standpoint, I was just trying too hard and when you try harder and harder, things just blow up on you."

OCEANIC 7

67'S 4


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