Hunter's playmaking pays off

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

London Knights captain Dylan Hunter loves to pass the puck and that soft touch lends itself to his favourite pastime -- ping-pong.

"I'm on a four-game winning streak right now," the 20-year-old said yesterday between table tennis battles, "but I think Rob Schremp is gunning for me. (Ryan Martinelli) is still the best ping-pong player on the team, but I'm the champ right now. I have the trophy."

Those ping-pong hands have put Hunter just seven assists away from passing his old buddy, Corey Perry, as London's all-time leader in assists. Perry had 240.

At the same time, Hunter is closing in on the milestone of scoring his 100th OHL goal.

"I've never been a big goal scorer, even as a kid," the Knights' all-time leader in games played said. "I've always been more of a passer and a playmaker than a shooter."

Bouncing around on the bus last week, Hunter knew how a ping-pong ball feels. With four games in five days involving long trips to Sault Ste. Marie and Erie, Penn., the Knights' lone blemish was a 4-3 loss in Guelph Sunday night.

The Storm have beaten the Knights four times out of five this year, which puts a major dent in London's quest for a third straight 50-win regular season.

"Guelph has a system and all of their players have bought into it," Hunter said. "It's always a low-scoring game and (former Knights goalie) Ryan MacDonald is the key guy they rally around. We're more of an offensive team and we have to make sure we score when we get a chance."

With Guelph returning to the John Labatt Centre Sunday afternoon, there's a chance Hunter could score his 100th OHL goal against ex-teammate MacDonald. At 98 goals, Hunter is the only one on the Knights' top 10 all-time points list who hasn't hit the century mark.

He is 14 points behind Dino Ciccarelli for sixth on the team's career list.

"It's surreal," Hunter said. "I know what Dino has meant to this organization and he's a guy I watched when I was really young. He played in Washington (Ciccarelli and Hunter's dad Dale were teammates with the Capitals) and that was a guy who was a goal scorer.

"He'd stand in front of the net and knock them in. This year, I have said to Juice (Adam Perry's nickname is Apple Juice), 'You know who you are? You're Dino.' "

Last year, Corey Perry and Hunter finished one-two in the OHL scoring race. This year, Hunter is fourth, behind teammates Rob Schremp, David Bolland and Kitchener's Evan McGrath.

"We talked before the season about how great it would be if we finished one-two-three," Hunter said. "He (McGrath) kind of sneaked in there on us, but there are games left to be played."

Hunter knows there are plenty more points -- and ping-pong titles -- up for grabs before he's done in London.

KNIGHTWATCH

Tonight: at Windsor, 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow: vs. Sarnia, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Sunday: vs. Guelph, 3 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre


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