Spezza eager for chance to play

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:26 AM ET

OWEN SOUND -- The London Knights didn't waste much time making a call to help ease their crease crisis.

After surrendering 10 goals in Friday night's season-opening loss to the Saginaw Spirit at the John Labatt Centre, the Knights acquired goaltender Matthew Spezza -- the younger brother of Ottawa Senators forward and former OHL standout Jason Spezza -- from the Ottawa 67's for future considerations.

Spezza, an 18-year-old from Mississauga, joined the team yesterday and made 41 saves in his Knights debut in an 8-1 loss to the Owen Sound Attack.

"It's an opportunity to play. That's the way I'm looking at it," Spezza said. "I'm just going to come in here and play my game. Killer (Ottawa head coach Brian Kilrea) said it wasn't anything to do with me. I played well in camp, but there wasn't any room there."

Spezza will compete for the Knights' No. 1 job against 17-year-old Oakville native Steve Mason, who was Friday night's starter, and 19-year-old Halifax native Chris Wall, who came in for relief duties against the Spirit.

Mason backed up Spezza last night and Wall was a healthy scratch.

Adam Dennis, who the Knights hoped would return to the junior ranks this season, isn't coming back anytime soon. He has joined Dylan Hunter at the training camp for the Buffalo Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate -- the Rochester Americans.

Spezza, an eighth round pick of the Brampton Battalion in 2002, split the 2004-05 season with Kingston and Ottawa. He finished with a combined 2-4-2 record.

The six-foot-one, 220-pounder worked out with his brother this summer and shed 27 pounds.

"I don't feel like I lost any size, just replaced fat with muscle," he said. "I feel a lot quicker. It's really helped."

Spezza laughed when asked who came out on top -- shooter or stopper -- when the brothers went one-on-one in the family basement as kids.

"It was pretty much even," he said.


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