Crawford nurtured in OHL atmosphere

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 2:00 PM ET

The OHL flows through Corbin Crawford's veins but that didn't make his debut with the London Knights any less of a heart-stopping experience.

The 16-year-old defenceman, who is the son of former Belleville Bulls head coach Lou Crawford and nephew of Vancouver Canucks bench boss Marc Crawford, played his first game with the Knights in Friday's 6-5 win over the Sudbury Wolves. He didn't look out of place but he admitted to an extra-large case of the butterflies before performing in front of 9,000 fans.

"It (Friday night) was pretty nerve-racking," he said. "I just tried to keep it simple. Last year, I played in a small arena with stands on just one side. . . . So this was a lot different."

Crawford figured his second game last night against the Mississauga IceDogs would be a lot more comfortable. The five-foot-10, 185-pounder, who had been playing for the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Provincial Junior A League this season, was a fourth-round pick of the Knights this summer and always felt it was a matter of time before he ended up with the big club.

"I always knew I wanted to play in the OHL," said the native of Plainfield near Belleville. "It wasn't much of a question. I grew up around it."

Crawford remembers running around Belleville's Yardman Arena as a nine-year-old when his dad's Bulls beat the Knights in the 1999 OHL championship during a memorable seven-game series. Now, he's trying to chip in and help those Knights get back to a second straight league title.

"He (Lou) just said good luck and told me to work hard," Crawford said. "(The Hunters) haven't talked to me much (about how long he'll be in the lineup). I'm just . . . trying to do the best I can."

Crawford and Lucan native Mike Noyes were called up after London traded Steve Ferry and Matt McCready to Sarnia for Sting captain Matt Pelech on Wednesday.

Pelesh is recovering from a sore shoulder.

He is on track to play his first game for London Dec. 28 and veteran Frank Rediker, who is nursing a sore knee, is expected back by Jan. 1 so the Knights will have to shuffle their blue-line again.


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