Knights still icing competition

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

There is little swagger left from last year's dominant march to the Memorial Cup title.

But the London Knights aren't afraid to say it out loud -- they believe they once again boast the best team in the OHL.

"I think we are," said Knights forward, and current offensive catalyst, Jordan Foreman. "Everybody made a big deal that Peterborough (last Friday night) was the biggest game of the year and we won that one. Not many people expected us to be where we are. They knew we would be pretty good again, but not in first place" in the OHL's Western Conference.

"But we've been finding ways to win. We're close (to the OHL's overall lead, trailing the Eastern Conference-leading Petes by two points) and all the guys want to finish in first again. It's a goal."

After a 4-1 home win over Peterborough, London started its Scott Tournament of Hearts-induced eight-game road trip with come-from-behind wins in Sault Ste. Marie and Saginaw on the weekend. The Knights travelled to the Sault for a 2-1 shootout win Saturday night, arrived in Saginaw at 3:30 a.m. Sunday and had enough conditioning to beat the Spirit 4-3 with a third-period surge.

"We have a lot of momentum right now and we have a lot of confidence," Foreman said. "We've been winning with guys missing from the lineup."

London won in Saginaw without OHL scoring leader Rob Schremp, who sat out after being hit in the foot with a slapshot in the Sault.

The 19-year-old sniper didn't practise yesterday, but is expected back, along with injured forward Robbie Drummond and Josh Beaulieu (flu), for games in Sarnia and Plymouth this weekend.

The desperate Sting are tied with Oshawa for last place in the OHL. The same two teams finished in the basement last year and the Generals picked phenom John Tavares in the entry draft while the Sting took defenceman Mark Katic.

The London-Plymouth game will mark the first meeting since the teams brawled at the John Labatt Centre Feb. 10.

"We have a good feeling right now and we're gunning for first, but it's not going to be easy," Knights forward David Bolland said. "Sarnia always plays us tough in their rink and Plymouth is fighting for first in their division. After that, we go east to Belleville, which isn't an easy place to play because of the big ice. Then we're in Peterborough, so there are a lot of big games coming up."

After wrapping up the OHL regular season title early in the last two campaigns, the Knights were able to rest a handful of their players during the final weekend of the regular season. That likely won't be the case this time with Kitchener just five points back of the Knights and the two teams meeting on the final day of the regular season (March 19) in London.

"That No. 1 seed in the Western Conference is huge," said Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu. "You want that home-ice advantage when you play a series against a team like Kitchener, Guelph or Owen Sound. There aren't going to be any easy matchups in the West."

But once again, London is feeling good about any matchup it draws as the stakes rise come playoff time.

KNIGHTWATCH

Tomorrow: at Sarnia, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: at Plymouth, 7:30 p.m.


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