Knights drop heartbreaker

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

KITCHENER -- The London Knights finally know what it's like to have their hearts broken.

After a number of dramatic, come-from-behind victories this season, the Knights ended up -- for once -- on the jilted side of a 3-2 heartbreaker to a spirited Kitchener Rangers squad before a sellout crowd of 5,965 last night at Kitchener's Memorial Auditorium.

Kitchener newcomer Victor Oreskovich, who left Notre Dame University last month after the Rangers acquired his rights from Windsor, potted the winner on a third rebound chance with 25.8 seconds left in the third period during a delayed penalty call to Knights defenceman Ryan Martinelli.

"We have to be more disciplined. I don't know how many five-on-threes they had and they had the extra attacker on with the winning goal," said London goalie Adam Dennis, who turned aside 31 Rangers shots. "We have to take less penalties -- against everybody."

The Knights, who held Kitchener scoreless on eight power plays but surrendered swings of momentum with their penalties, suffered just their second regulation loss in 24 games. The surging Rangers won their fourth straight.

London tried to sit on a one-goal lead in the third period by icing the puck and retreating into a defensive shield, but Kitchener's low-scoring blue-liner Matt Lashoff beat Dennis on an innocent-looking shot from a bad angle to tie the game with four minutes left.

"It hit the toe of my pad and the rebound went in a weird direction," Dennis said.

Kitchener, which boasts four solid lines, the league's most imposing defence and a big goalie in Dan Turple, didn't expect the Knights to play a defensive style against them last night.

"I was little surprised. They're the highest-scoring team in the league with almost double the goals of the next closest team, so I didn't expect them to sit back," Kitchener head coach Peter DeBoer said.

"They were trying to play a smart road game and it worked for 59 minutes and 30 seconds. It's just the first game between us and I know it's going to be a good battle down the stretch."

Players in the London dressing room felt they learned an important lesson.

"There's no way we can let them get a fourth shot in a row on goal . . . Adam (Dennis) stood on his head for us," Knights captain Dylan Hunter said. "It's a feeling-out process. I don't think we had our minds in it. We didn't know them and now we do, so we know how to play them, so they better watch out."

The Knights had to watch out for flying teddy bears after Kitchener rookie forward Yves Bastien scored the opener in the first period. The Rangers' final bear tally was 5,472 -- a franchise record in the 11th year of the event -- and a total the Knights will try to top tomorrow night against Saginaw.

London forward Robbie Drummond was shaken up on the play and left the game at the end of the second period.

"It's my leg and it feels all right now, but we'll have to get it checked out," the swift-skating Londoner said.

Rob Schremp scored both goals for the Knights to tie teammate David Bolland for the OHL goal lead at 28.

London played without defenceman Frank Rediker. He missed his fourth straight game with what the team termed "bumps and bruises" after suffering with the flu last week.

Knight Sergei Kostitsyn heads for his home country of Belarus today to play for his nation in the world junior B championship.

GAME GLANCE

Rangers 3, Knights 2

Kitchener goals: Yves Bastien, Matt Lashoff and Victor Oreskovich with the game-winner with 25.8 seconds left in the third period.

London goals: Rob Schremp (2)

Next: It's London's Teddy Bear Toss night as the Knights take on the Saginaw Spirit tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.

RANGERS 3

KNIGHTS 2


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