Knights win in overtime

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

When push comes to shove, London Knights captain Dylan Hunter can score 'em fancy and he can score 'em ugly.

The 20-year-old forward showcased both by scoring twice, including the winner, in a 4-3 overtime win over the powerful Kitchener Rangers before 9,090 yesterday at the John Labatt Centre.

Hunter, London's career leader in games played, put the Knights up 3-2 in the third period on a spinning, highlight-reel effort normally performed by the likes of Rob Schremp or David Bolland.

But his overtime tally was pure go-to-the-net grit as he tipped a Ryan Martinelli point shot to hand Kitchener just its third loss in 15 games.

"I just went in front and it hit my stick," Hunter said of the winner. "It was great that Marty took a wrist shot, because it was easier to handle than a slapshot. I was really just trying to screw up (big Kitchener goalie Dan Turple), get him moving and maybe bang in a rebound."

Hunter's heroics were necessary because Kitchener forward and West Lorne native Justin Azevedo tied it with less than four minutes left by roofing a shot over London goalie Adam Dennis. The Knights tried to sit on a one-goal lead for 15 minutes, but it backfired for the second time this year against the Rangers.

"On the third-period goal, the puck was behind me and I had to kind of do a spinnerama to get to it and slip it past (Turple)," Hunter said with a grin. "It was a big win for us to bounce back after they tied it late again. We (Hunter and Bolland) both hit the crossbar late and that's when you start to worry a little bit."

Scoring is always a concern when facing Kitchener, who gave up more than three goals for the first time in 15 games. The Rangers, who boast the OHL's best defence, threatened to go up 3-1 in the second period, but Dennis stoned Azevedo on a penalty shot.

"I got him last year, too, in the playoffs, but you don't really think about that before a shot," Dennis said. "I like to come out of the net and angle the shooter."

Azevedo said he wished he had the opportunity to try it again and stay away from Dennis's left leg pad.

"I did the same move as last year and it didn't work either," the 17-year-old said. "Maybe I should've went upstairs. But I'm happy to have tied it up and to get a point, because we know how hard it is to win here. We love playing London because we know it's going to be a battle. We play them (three more times) this season and every game is going to be close like this."

London defenceman Matt Pelech, who was acquired from the Sarnia Sting last month, played against his younger brother Michael for the first time. Michael, a Rangers rookie forward, had played at the recent world under-17 challenge in Saskatchewan and missed facing Matt on Tuesday in Kitchener.

Knights forward Robbie Drummond was handed a major penalty in the second period and was kicked out of the game for cross-checking Kitchener star Evan McGrath in the head.

"That was a big penalty kill," said Dennis, who turned aside 41 shots for his league-best 27th win. "We did a pretty good job there and then David (Bolland) scored a short-handed goal on that one, so the PK was big for us."

Kitchener has made contact with U.S. world junior participant Tom Fritsche, whose older brother Dan played with the Knights last year, about giving up his scholarship with the Ohio State Buckeyes and spending the rest of his junior eligibility with the Rangers, who own his OHL rights.

"We haven't heard an answer back from Tom yet," Rangers head coach Peter DeBoer said. "There isn't really a deadline for a move like that, but if he does play one game for anyone else after Jan. 10, then it's pretty much over."

Kitchener has already brought in two U.S. college players -- Matt Auffrey and the injured Victor Oreskovic, who scored the late game-winner against London Dec. 7 at the Aud.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 4, Rangers 3 (OT)

London goals: Dylan Hunter (2), including the winner 2:53 into overtime, David Bolland, Rob Schremp

Kitchener goals: Craig Voakes, Evan McGrath, Justin Azevedo

Next: London heads on the road to face revamped Sudbury Friday night and Barrie Saturday night.


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