Loss fails to spoil reunion

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

BELLEVILLE -- London Knights head coach Dale Hunter picked his starting goalie for the OHL all-star game in what he felt was the fairest way possible.

He had London's Adam Dennis and Guelph's Ryan MacDonald flip a coin for it.

"MacDonald won," the OHL's Western Conference bench boss said. "It was heads, so he got the start."

In the long run, it didn't matter -- the East fired an all-star game record 60 shots at the two West goalies for a 9-3 win before 3,025 at Yardmen Arena. MacDonald, who was traded for Dennis last year, made 26 of 28 saves and was spectacular at times, while Dennis allowed goals on the first three shots he faced and ended up allowing seven.

"They were both good," Hunter said.

It was the East's first win in four games and Hunter knew early East coach Brian Kilrea, the longtime skipper of the Ottawa 67's, was out to win it.

"We played an all-star game and Killer played the trap," Hunter said. "They had a checking line on (OHL leading scorer Rob) Schremp's line out there the whole game. We went wide open and that's why they ended up with so many shots. I know our kids had fun playing."

The East's 60 shots topped the West's total of 49 in Barrie in 1997. The two teams also combined for 100 shots, which buried the previous mark of 73 from the 1999 game in Sarnia.

Despite Hunter's opinion of his tactics, Kilrea is 2-0 against the Hunter brothers in OHL all-star games. He beat Knights general manager Mark Hunter, then the Sarnia bench boss, 12-7 at the 1999 game in Sarnia.

But the end result didn't ruin the reunion for MacDonald, who always knew he would get another chance to hang out with his old Knights buddies. All he had to do was wait for the all-stars to align.

The 20-year-old Chesley native, enjoying a banner season with the Guelph Storm, spent a couple of days with former mates Schremp, Dylan Hunter and David Bolland during the festivities.

"It's great to see all these guys again -- you miss that a little bit and for a few days, it's just like old times. It's a fun few days and then you get back to work."

The game was nothing new for either of the West goalies. As a Knight, MacDonald played in the all-star game in Peterborough in 2004, while Dennis participated in last year's game at Owen Sound.

"They're the two best goalies in the league by far," Schremp said. "I can't score on Mack Daddy (MacDonald). Every time we play against Guelph, he makes 40 saves and 10 of them are usually against me."

Well known for constant line juggling, Dale Hunter played it straight up with Dylan Hunter and Schremp on a forward unit with Erie's Michael Blunden and Bolland with Owen Sound's Bobby Ryan and Sarnia's Chad Painchaud.

Bolland, who played in his third consecutive all-star game and was selected Western Conference captain, notched an assist to finish with six points in those three contests. He ended up one short of all-time leader Justin Papineau, the former Belleville Bull who picked up seven points in three games 1997-99.

Hockey legend Bobby Orr participated in the ceremonial opening faceoff. Former Belleville goalie Craig Billington and ex-Bull Marty McSorley acted as honorary captains.

Billington, who played with Dale Hunter as the two wound down their NHL careers, jabbed his old teammate at the afternoon luncheon for shooting high on him at practices with the Colorado Avalanche.

"They hurt," he said with a grin.

GAME GLANCE

Eastern all-stars 9, Western all-stars 3

East goals: Justin Donati (Toronto) 2, Chris Stewart (Kingston) 2, Wojtek Wolski (Brampton) 2, Steve Downie (Peterborough), Jordan Owens (Mississauga), Jamie Tardif (Peterborough)

West goals: Tom Pyatt (Saginaw) 2, Ryan Callahan (Guelph)


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