Knights, Rangers renew rivalry

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

In the Guelph Storm dressing room, there's a posted photo of an anonymous adventure seeker guiding a kayak down a raging river.

A cutout of London Knights forward Rob Schremp's face has been pasted onto it.

By celebrating his shootout winner over Guelph with a crazy kayak imitation on Dec. 11 at the John Labatt Centre, he provided the Storm with what's known as "bulletin-board material."

Coaches hate when their players give the opposition extra incentive to beat them, but Schremp always has paddled down his own waterway.

The same might be said of Kitchener's top gun, Evan McGrath, who returns to London tonight for the first time since he said his club works harder and has more character than the Knights after Kitchener's 4-3 overtime loss at the JLC last month.

"(McGrath's) a young guy and it was the heat of the moment, and it was probably an unwise decision, but you can see how there can be some frustration," said Knights assistant coach Jeff Perry.

Rangers coach Peter DeBoer, who watched his talented forward take multiple sticks in the face in various games against London, was encouraged by McGrath's willingness to speak out.

"Evan showed some passion after a game we lost," DeBoer said. "Frankly, I would have been disappointed if he didn't say anything. Evan is a great person and has a lot of character. I hope what he said began and ended with that night."

Truth be told, the bulletin board has been filling up for games between these two teams the past three years. The rivalry is great for the OHL, good for London and Kitchener, exciting for the players and, this season, it's playing out in a race to determine the king of the Western Conference standings.

On Sunday, Schremp returns to Kitchener for the first time since the city filed a report to the league accusing him of making contact with a fan with his stick. The league cleared Schremp.

"We're not going to fight a war through the media," said Schremp, the OHL's leading scorer. "They're a good team and we're a good team and it's been that way for the past few years. It doesn't matter that we're defending champs and they're trying to knock us out.

"It's a lot like the Battle of Alberta between Edmonton and Calgary. I got to see and hear about it (when he was at the Oilers' camp) and you want to play your best."

DeBoer said there's always extra fire when his club, currently the top defensive team in the OHL, plays London, the highest-scoring squad. The Knights have won five straight games, while the Rangers have won eight in a row.

KNIGHTWATCH

Tonight: vs. Kitchener, 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Tomorrow: vs. Plymouth, 7:30 p.m. at the JLC

Sunday: at Kitchener, 7 p.m.


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