For much of his OHL career, hard-luck London Knights forward Robbie Drummond couldn't buy a goal with an overflowing wallet.
No matter what the swift-skating Londoner tried, he would invariably be robbed by a hot goalie, overthink a breakaway, ping it off a post or choose to pass to a teammate.
But four years into his Knights tenure, the 19-year-old has finally figured out the secret to putting the puck in the net: extreme confidence.
Drummond scored for the sixth straight game and OHL leading scorer David Bolland popped a hat trick to power the Knights to an 8-3 victory over the Plymouth Whalers before 9,090 last night at the John Labatt Centre.
"You get a couple of goals and you get more confident. When it's going like this, it's a great feeling," Drummond said. "I did struggle my first few years, but the way it's going now, other guys are looking to me for offence now. In a way, I'm expanding my role on this team. I just want to keep working hard."
After losing in Windsor Thursday night, the Knights rebounded to resemble the team that had rolled to eight straight victories.
"We felt we had something to prove. We don't want losing to become a habit in here," Bolland said. "I don't know if Plymouth had an off-night but we had heard they were one of the top teams in the West and we wanted to come out and perform the way we can."
London scored at least eight goals for the fourth time in the past five games. After being shut out on the power play against Windsor on Thursday, the Knights tallied three times with the man advantage.
While Bolland's marksmanship has been expected, Drummond's recent output is a welcome surprise. He showed tremendous hand-eye co-ordination on his marker by batting the puck out of the air past stunned Plymouth goalie Justin Garay 51 seconds into the second period.
On Thursday night, Drummond's innocent-looking shot bounced off Windsor goalie Anthony Guadagnolo's blocker, flew up in the air and fluttered over the goal line. Like the proverbial magic trick, Drummond has been pulling a rabbit out of the top hat each night.
"I'm playing with some talented guys in Trevor Kell and Josh Beaulieu -- we're clicking out there," Drummond said. "We're cycling the puck well and it's been a lot of fun to be out there."
The five-foot-10, 182-pound local product, who was picked by London in the second round of the 2002 draft, scored four goals in his first two OHL campaigns before a career-high of eight as a checking-line forward with the Memorial Cup champs last season.
He already has six goals this season. Bolland has 18 with a dozen of those goals coming on the power play.
Short on the blue-line this season, Knights head coach Dale Hunter thought it would be a good idea to convert Drummond into a defenceman.
With the new enforcement of hockey's rules in place, the thinking was Drummond's skating skills and ability to make a fast first pass would help the Knights break out of their own end quickly.
But Drummond had never played the position before. He flourished after being moved back to forward a couple of games into the season.
"I tried defence. I wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win," Drummond said. "It was a change for me and a bit of a wakeup call. I always wanted to score goals for this team. Even with the way it's going now, I know I still have to take care of the defensive part of the game."
Whalers coach Mike Vellucci yanked Garay after Drummond's goal and replaced him with Ryan Nie before going back to his starter in the third.
London forward Josh Beaulieu beat Garay on the first shot of the game.