Knights goal still major question mark

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

Not much has changed since last season for the London Knights -- they still can't name a definite starting goaltender.

After alternating between Gerald Coleman and Adam Dennis on the way to last year's Memorial Cup title, London will begin the 2005-06 season with its biggest question mark in net.

Coleman has become part of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization and Dennis, the more likely candidate of the two to return to London this year, is still in Buffalo at the Sabres camp.

The uncertainty surrounding Dennis's status means either Chris Wall, a 19-year-old Halifax native, or Steve Mason, a 17-year-old from Oakville, will get the start in the Knights' 2005-06 season-opener tonight against Saginaw at the John Labatt Centre.

"We won't talk to the guys until (today)," Knights head coach Dale Hunter said. "There's pressure. These guys are playing for jobs. If Adam comes back, they're playing to stay on the team. We don't know if Adam will be back. It's a day-to-day thing."

Wall, who was originally drafted by the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, became a free agent last year and opted to move to London to play for the Nationals in the Western Junior B Hockey League.

"It was an opportunity to play a lot and be seen by scouts and that's what happened," the aptly-named six-foot-one, 175-pound puckstopper said. "The Hunters liked what they saw and invited me to camp and I just played my game to try to earn a spot."

Mason, who led the Grimsby Peach Kings to within one game of a third consecutive Ontario Hockey Association Junior C title last year, was originally drafted by the Knights in the 11th round of the 2004 draft. This was his second training camp with the team.

"It was surreal to show up last year and all of a sudden be facing future NHLers like Corey Perry and Brandon Prust," the six-foot-three, 185-pounder said. "I came here this year and knew there would be a job for me if I proved I could play at this level."

London will need game-saving stops from its goaltenders, especially early in the season, as a youthful defence learns how to play at the OHL level.

Boston Bruins draft pick Frank Rediker, who missed much of the past two seasons with knee woes, will anchor a blue-line that includes Matt McCready, 2004 first-rounder Steven Ferry and converted forward Robbie Drummond, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league but has played all his hockey up front.

London's scoring punch will be provided by 19-year-old Chicago Blackhawks prospect David Bolland, who is poised for a 40-goal, 100-point season.

Veterans Jordan Foreman, Trevor Kell and former Ottawa 67's forward Jamie VanderVeeken will be counted on to chip in their share of goals while Adam Perry, Corey's younger brother, could be a pleasant surprise after leading the Knights with seven goals in the exhibition season.

All told, London is currently in limbo on offence with Dylan Hunter, Drew Larman and Robbie Schremp still at NHL camps. If any or all three of those players come back, it will bolster the attack.


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