Knights' goal output torrid

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

The London Knights have been lighting up the scoreboard this season at a rate unseen in the OHL for 30 years.

With 111 goals in their first 17 games, the Knights are on pace to score 444 goals in the 68-game regular season. If they can maintain that rate of production, the team's total would rank second in league history behind the gaudy 469 the offensive powerhouse Toronto Marlboros collected on their way to the 1974-75 Memorial Cup championship.

That Toronto roster, which breezed through the season with a 48-13-9 record and won the Cup over the New Westminster Bruins in Kitchener, was led by Bruce Boudreau (68 goals), Mark Napier (66 goals) and John Tonelli (49 goals). They were coached by former Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong.

"Last year when we were setting some records, we were looking through the (OHL) book to see what other marks we might have a chance at getting," London forward David Bolland said. "We saw that number (469 goals by Toronto) and thought at that point, we would need another 68-game schedule to get there."

Last year's Knights juggernaut ended up with a healthy 310 goals. But with the new rules and the way the game is being played now, Bolland's not so sure the mark is completely out of reach.

"You think it's going to tighten up but if they keep calling the penalties the way they are now, we're going to get our opportunities on the power play and we'll have a chance," Bolland said. "We're putting up some numbers right now. We have 111 goals and the closest team to us has something like 80 (Owen Sound's 79 goals), so there's a big gap."

With a league-high 21 goals and 52 points in 17 games, Bolland is on pace for a ridiculous 84 goals and 208 points. The OHL record for most points in a season belongs to Bobby Smith, who had 192 points for the Ottawa 67's in 1977-78. That same year, Sault Ste. Marie's Wayne Gretzky finished runner-up with 182.

Ex-Knight Corey Perry led the OHL in scoring last year with 130 points.

Bolland will miss some games if he plays for Canada at the world junior championship in Vancouver next month. But if he is cut by that team for the second straight year, Smith's totals would be instantly in jeopardy.

"I'm not a guy who looks at the numbers much and we're a team that worries more about getting wins than how many points we have," Bolland said. "But as forwards, we do want to set offensive records."

To surpass 400 goals, London would have to risk the wrath of more unsportsmanlike conduct accusations.

"I know Toronto thought we ran up the score (in a 14-6 win Oct. 16) but we're playing the game the way it's supposed to be played," Bolland said. "We're not going to let up. If they take penalties, what are we supposed to do? The object of the game is to score goals. That's what we're trying to do every game."

Knights head coach Dale Hunter said the team's current average of 6.5 goals a game is going to be difficult to maintain. The Knights have scored at least seven goals in nine of their 17 games so far.

"It takes a while to teach defence. There's more goals and scoring chances right now, but once the guys learn who to pick up on the backcheck, it's going to tighten up," he said.

"We put the new rules in and you do have to adjust the way you coach because of it. You're getting more power plays because penalties are being called but you still have to make sure you score on those opportunities."


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