Before tomorrow's game against the Soo Greyhounds, Dale Hunter better get to a mall and buy himself a new lucky tan jacket and a muzzle.
The London Knights head coach, who will be inducted into the Lambton sports Hall of Fame tonight in Sarnia, retired his original tan-coloured coat after the Knights capped their 2004-05 season with the Memorial Cup title.
But the threads he's wearing now have little magic -- London dropped its fourth straight game and finished 0-for-4 to cap a forgettable September with a 4-3 loss to the Owen Sound Attack before a sellout of 9,090 last night at the John Labatt Centre.
Owen Sound star Bobby Ryan banged home the third-period winner on a two-man advantage awarded after a frustrated Hunter mouthed off to referee Shaun Davis, who had just called a cross-checking penalty on Knights defenceman Steve Ferry.
"I said, 'What are you, two years old?' " Hunter said. "That's what I said and he gave me a penalty."
Hunter refused to comment on the officiating because to do so would result in a hefty fine from the OHL.
The loss was a demoralizing one for the Knights, who showed a lot of pluck in fighting back from a 3-0 deficit and tying the game on defenceman Matt McCready's point blast two minutes before Ryan's winner.
"When things go wrong, you have to bounce back," said McCready, an 18-year-old from Tecumseh. "That's what we're trying to do here. It's tough to lose like that, but no one is going to give us any breaks."
Hunter pulled starting goalie Matthew Spezza after Owen Sound's third goal midway through the second period and replaced him with rookie Steve Mason, who hadn't played since the opener against Saginaw.
Mason made nine saves, including a breakaway stop, but was saddled with the loss by surrendering Ryan's goal.
"I felt good coming in. I made some saves -- but on that one, it bounced off a guy's shoulder and he (Ryan) had an open net," Mason said. "A guy like that isn't going to miss many of those."
Ryan, an Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect, has three goals and seven points in two games against London this year.
"That's why he was the second overall pick in the NHL draft this year," Attack coach Mike Stothers said.
"London worked hard, they came at us all game and I called a timeout (in the third period) to remind our guys this wasn't the time to start resting and relaxing."
After David Bolland scored London's first even-strength goal of the season on a nifty breakaway feed from Frank Rediker in the second, the Knights pulled within one early in the third on Matt Clarke's first OHL goal.
The Londoner and former Strathroy Rocket popped in a nice touch pass from Adam Perry to make it 3-2.
"I went to the net and just had to tap it in," the 17-year-old said. "We worked hard, we tied it up -- but it's tough to lose on a five-on-three like that."
Hunter played musical goalies in the third, putting Spezza back in net briefly before returning Mason to the crease in the finish-up.
Attack 4, Knights 3
Owen Sound goals: Derek Brochu, Jeff Kyrzakos, Mike Angelidis and Bobby Ryan
London goals: David Bolland, Matt Clarke, Matt McCready
Next: London faces the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.