Yes, Sirs!

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- The London Knights got what they deserved last night.

For the first time in the 40-year history of the franchise, their fans can brag about cheering for a team of Memorial Cup champions. The Knights put the exclamation mark on an amazing season with a 4-0 dominance of Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic in the Cup final before 8,905 delirious supporters at the John Labatt Centre.

The debate on the ice in the minutes after the club had its picture taken with the Cup was in full swing. Are the Knights, who played 90 games this season and won 79, the best junior team in hockey history?

"I think so," said forward Dan Fritsche, who was great for the Knights throughout the tournament and had the winning goal and two assists yesterday. "I think it is going to hold up for a long time. It has been mentioned throughout the year. We knew we weren't going to be the greatest team until we capped it off (last night)."

Some will hold off judgment until the more-talented Knights, such as Corey Perry and Fritsche, make their way into the NHL. Since the Cup, which has been awarded since 1919, first was given to major junior hockey champions in the early 1970s, observers point to the 1995 champion Kamloops Blazers as one of the strongest clubs. The Blazers that year beat Detroit 8-2 in the final and produced a bunch of NHLers, including Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Darcy Tucker and Tyson Nash.

"This year we are No. 1," said Knights captain Danny Syvret, who along with Perry won the world junior gold medal with Canada and the Memorial Cup in the same season. "I don't know if you can look back 10 years and compare us to them because we won't be able to play them."

POWER

Regardless, the Knights demonstrated their power yesterday by toying with the Oceanic. Winger Brandon Prust and defenceman Marc Methot did a superb job of checking Crosby, who had nothing going in the way of offence. It was just the second time since 1972 there has been a shutout in the Cup final.

Bryan Rodney, David Bolland and Rob Schremp also scored for London. Adam Dennis made 27 saves.

"We were trying to beat them but it was mission impossible," Oceanic coach Doris Labonte said. "In my opinion, the best team has won. We have been on the road for 11 days and were playing them in their environment. Their machine was almost perfect."

The Knights were ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League from the start of the season, and few were expecting them to lose yesterday. The Hunter brothers, general manager Mark and coach Dale, put together a deep team that iced a wave of talent on each shift. Still, Methot was in disbelief.

"Oh my God, it has not sunk in yet," he said. "It's incredible. I can't believe we won it. We're so proud of each other and we deserved it."


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