Whenever a team prepares to play the London Knights, it invariably spends a lot of time trying to find a way to stop the power play.
Now, opponents will have to start worrying about the penalty kill.
Known more for punishing teams for taking penalties, London proved it could visit the sin bin without much peril by holding Guelph scoreless in 11 power-play chances during yesterday's 4-1 Knights victory at the John Labatt Centre.
"We did a good job on the penalty kill," Knights head coach Dale Hunter said. "That was important. We needed that."
London forward Jordan Foreman, an enthusiastic penalty-killing forward, couldn't remember the last time he scored a short-handed, empty-net goal with almost eight minutes left in the game. He potted the Knights' ninth short-handed marker of the season when Guelph head coach Dave Barr pulled goalie Ryan MacDonald in an unsuccessful effort to initiate some offence.
"To be honest, I didn't know they had pulled the goalie until 30 seconds into the shift," Foreman said. "In that situation, you just have to be hungry for the puck. Our penalty-killers have done a great job lately and we picked it up (yesterday). It was a good win for us. We haven't beaten Guelph much so we needed this one."
Guelph, which is much better at killing penalties than playing with the man advantage, produced little sustained pressure on its power-play opportunities.
"I thought the turning point was the five-on-three advantage we had in the first period and we got nothing," Barr said. "You have to score, especially against a good team, in that situation. That's going to come back to haunt you. We have to be better than that."
London forward Rob Schremp, who has seen a lot more penalty-kill duties lately, felt the Knights' unsung defence deserved much of the credit for keeping the Guelph shooters at bay and outside the key scoring areas.
"The forwards aren't doing anything different so you have to hand it to the defence," Schremp said. "They're blocking shots. They're getting in front of guys and it makes it easier to kill penalties that way. Plus, (goalie) Adam Dennis is making the big saves and it's all adding up."
To show that the feeling was contagious, the Knights needled their top scorer Schremp for his shot-blocking work while trying to help preserve Dennis' shutout bid.
"We were joking that Rob must have tripped on somebody's stick to get down like that and block a shot," Knights captain Dylan Hunter said with a laugh. "You don't see something like that very often. It just shows what we're willing to do to get a win. Guelph has been a thorn in our side for a long time and we really wanted to beat them."