Checkers happy to be making contribution

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

OWEN SOUND -- Patience is a virtue -- especially if you play on a checking line for the London Knights.

Plenty of times this season, forwards Jamie VanderVeeken, Kris Belan and Matt Clarke would get the tap on the back to be ready for the next shift only to be passed over when a penalty was called or some quick line matching made it necessary to send out different players.

So it was satisfying for the trio to make a difference in Friday night's 4-3 victory over the Owen Sound Attack at the John Labatt Centre. VanderVeeken, who was picked up on waivers in the summer after being let go by Ottawa, scored the Knights' third goal and his line drew a cross-checking penalty in the third period that resulted in the winning tally by Adam Perry.

"It's not every night you get to change the momentum of a game," VanderVeeken said. "You always have to stay mentally in it because you never know when you're going to get out there next. You're only as good as your last shift. You have to be patient because there are times when you're ready to go and then there's a penalty or the top line goes out and the matchup changes so you're sitting back down again."

"We're starting to come together and know where each of us is going to be out there," Belan said. "We're at our best when we're cycling the puck and we get our most shifts when we're doing that. Scoring a goal is an added plus. We're supposed to bang and crash out there and bring some energy."

London's checkers will likely become more important in the playoffs since the best way to beat the Knights is still to play a disciplined game and limit their power plays. VanderVeeken and Belan know they have to play more minutes when the game is five-on-five.

"Plus there could be some overtimes and when we're playing, it's giving our big guys a break," VanderVeeken said.

"You can't have those guys playing 35 minutes every night. We're going to have to do the job and eat up some of those minutes."


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