Knights burn Sting with dramatic rally

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:51 AM ET

SARNIA -- Lambton County police should have spent the night investigating a robbery that occurred at 1455 London Road in Sarnia last night.

The crime scene was the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre where the sneaky Western Conference-leading London Knights rose from the dead to steal a 5-4 overtime decision from a shocked Sarnia Sting squad in front of 4,083 witnesses who left the building shaking their heads in amazement.

One of London's least likely suspects -- stay-at-home defenceman Scott Aarssen -- potted his first OHL goal from a near-impossible angle in the extra session to give the Knights their fifth win in a row and send struggling Sarnia spiralling to an eighth straight loss.

"(Assistant coach) Jacques (Beaulieu) yelled at me to jump up in the play and so I did," said Aarssen, a 17-year-old London native. "I just got the puck at the net and a good thing happened."

The biggest burglary, however, occurred late in the third period. Trailing 4-2 with just over a minute to go, London pulled goalie Adam Dennis and got a power-play goal from A.J. Perry. Then David Bolland beat Sarnia goalie Jeff MacDougald on a penalty shot awarded with 25.3 seconds left after Sting defenceman Jamie Fraser was whistled for putting his hand over the puck in his team's crease.

"On a penalty shot, you always fake a shot first -- do a little hesitation to see what you got," Bolland said. "He thought I was going upstairs and he guessed wrong. It was a character win for us. We fought back hard."

The biggest victim was Sarnia forward and former Knight Harrison Reed, who was all set up to be the game's hero after scoring two third-period goals. The 17-year-old was traded by the Memorial Cup champs before the season and exacted some revenge against his old club before the incredible comeback.

"I thought we played better than they did but we just didn't get the bounces," Reed said. "It's a tough one. They have some good guys in that dressing room, I guess, and it's tough (to put them away)."

Sarnia hasn't won since a 3-2 victory over Mississauga on Nov. 5.

Dylan Hunter, who logged a ton of ice time and picked up an assist, suited up for the 274th time in his OHL career and tied Joel Scherban as the Knights' all-time leader in games played.

The 20-year-old Oil Springs native knows how close he was to never seeing the ice for his family-owned hockey team.

Back on OHL draft day in 2001, Sarnia pulled off a cheeky trade to move ahead of rival London in the second round and the Knights brass knew full well the Sting coveted Dale Hunter's son as a hockey player.

London GM Mark Hunter worked the phone, made a quick trade to jump back in line in front of Sarnia and selected nephew Dylan with the first pick of the second round, 21st overall, to save his family a potentially embarrassing situation.

London assistant Jeff Perry was head coach of Sarnia at the time and was in Sting headquarters when all the wheeling and dealing went down. He said the whole situation was blown of proportion and, thanks to an influential ex-Knights star, Hunter would never become Sting property.

"We had a lot of respect for Dylan as a player but the honest truth was we weren't going to take him with that second-round pick," Perry said. "(Then Sarnia GM and current Windsor head scout) Terry (Doran) wanted to take him but (Sting co-owner) Dino (Ciccarelli) was the one who stepped in and said no. It was a respect thing for the Hunters. I always thought it was more overhyped than the talk about the Hatfields and McCoys."

Frank Rediker, London's most trusty defenceman, sat out last night's game with a sore knee. The 20-year-old blue-liner has a history of knee troubles and multiple surgeries but his absence is expected to be temporary.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 5, Sting 4

London goals: David Bolland (2), Sergei Kostitsyn, A.J. Perry, Scott Aarssen

Sarnia goals: Harrison Reed (2), Tomas Pospisil, Chad Painchaud

Next: London plays the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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