Knights keep hex on Spits

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

WINDSOR -- If you won 22 straight hands of Texas Hold 'Em poker, you'd likely be a millionaire.

If you did 22 straight tasks correctly at your job, you'd be a big cheese at the office.

But for the London Knights, running their unbeaten streak against Windsor to a mind-boggling 22 games was simply satisfying business as usual in what has increasingly become a one-sided rivalry.

London scored five power-play goals for its fourth consecutive victory and handed the struggling Spitfires their seventh straight loss in a 6-5 win before 2,659 yesterday afternoon at Windsor Arena.

"It happens -- it's breaks. You see it once in a while," London head coach Dale Hunter said of the streak. "It really hasn't been that long (since Game 7 of the 2003 playoffs when the streak began), but you play them enough."

London finished five-of-eight with the man advantage and every time Windsor threatened to storm back and tie the game, the Spitfires rescued the Knights by taking momentum-killing penalties.

"That was a topic in the dressing room before the game," Windsor head coach Moe Mantha said. "You can't take penalties against those guys. They have some pretty good chemistry going right now with the special players they have -- (Dylan) Hunter, (Rob) Schremp, Bolland."

London led 3-0 in the first period, but Windsor scored twice in the second to make it a game. Two power-play goals by London's A.J. Perry made it 5-2, but the Spits closed the gap to 5-4 before Knights leading scorer David Bolland banked his 11th goal of the season -- and eighth on the power play -- off the back of Windsor goalie Kyle Knechtel's leg.

Windsor scored with five seconds left in the game but like a lot of games in this streak, it was too little too late.

"They're getting better," said Knights defenceman Frank Rediker, a former Spitfire who was with Windsor but was injured when the streak began. "They played us pretty well five-on-five but if you're going to take penalties against us, we've got a lot of offensive talent out there and we're going to make you pay."

London, which is effectively using five forwards on its top power-play unit, has scored 23 goals with the man advantage in eight games this season. Employing an all-forward unit can come back to haunt you in the form of short-handed breakaway chances when players aren't familiar with patrolling the back end.

"It's risky but those guys know when to come back hard," Hunter said. "More than anything, we're using five forwards to give the defence a rest so they can help kill penalties and be all right later in the game."

That rest is appreciated by 20-year-old Rediker, who had endured two major knee operations but is playing big-time minutes for a mostly inexperienced London defence.

"I love it. I'm having a lot of fun out there," Rediker said. "My knee does get tired out there at the end of games and it's constant ice, ice, ice afterwards. But it's great to be back in the lineup and helping out."

With the victory, London climbed to the .500 mark for the first time this season. In their four losses, the Knights were outscored 26-13. In their four wins, they turned the tables and were up 24-13.

Though Bolland, Schremp, Hunter and Sergei Kostitsyn continue to rack up a ton of points, the Knights are finally getting scoring from other avenues.

Londoner Matt Clarke got the Knights going with the first goal of the game and Perry, former Knight Corey's younger brother, made a case in lobbying for more power-play time. He parked himself in front of Knechtel and knocked home two important goals.

"The way the game's called now, it doesn't matter if you're six-foot-five or five-foot-11 -- you can stand in front of the net and be successful," Perry said. "The defence can't cross-check you in the back anymore so it opens up some room. The power play is so important now and last year's team was so unbelievable on it, we're just trying to live up to that."

Windsor is still reeling from forward Steve Downie leaving the team last week after being suspended for five games for his part in a practice incident with rookie Akin Aliu, who played yesterday.

Mantha said there has been no communication between him and Downie.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 6, Spitfires 5

London goals: David Bolland (2), A.J. Perry (2), Matt Clarke, Rob Schremp

Windsor goals: Kevin Hudes, Mike Weber, Brett Liscomb, Brad Snetsinger

Next: London travels to Brampton on Thursday to play the Battalion at 7:30 p.m.


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