Knights want not to hear magic moment again

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Dylan Hunter and David Bolland and all the rest of the Knights can smell it, taste it and feel it.

But they can't hear it.

They can't hear anything from that magic moment last spring when they placed a lyrical finale on a hockey season for the ages with a resounding final-game victory to win the Memorial Cup.

They want to smell, taste, feel and not hear it again.

"I remember all of it clearly, right from the first game of the playoffs to the very end," Bolland said. "All of us remember everything."

Most of all, they remember the deafening noise in the inexorable countdown of their decisive 4-0 victory over Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic. They were all in another world in those seconds, unable to communicate with one another other than through the unspoken sharing of a moment unlike any in their young lives.

"It was electrifying," captain Dylan Hunter said. "When we got the first goal, you couldn't even hear guys congratulating each other. It went on from there and you couldn't hear anybody at the end."

Of course the Knights had hometown advantage and a win in Moncton might not be quite as deafening.

But in London, the entire May week of the Memorial cup was a sound to behold. Wherever the Knights went around town, people would holler encouragement, wave, smile and generally signal their appreciation for the team's accomplishments. The city erupted in good cheer.

Bolland, like all of them, had never experienced anything like it.

"The last 10-15 seconds, you couldn't even hear the guy beside you for all the noise from the fans and it was unforgettable," he added during a pre-practice session yesterday promoting newly designed House of Green T-shirts in a fundraising project involving the Children's Aid Society and Children's Hospital of Western Ontario.

"It's something to look forward to. It's not something new to us. We can do it again."

Well, many of them probably could. But gone is a sterling defence corps to graduation, replaced by youngsters who've filled the gap admirably. It's a question of how much. Memorial Cup champs don't repeat often.

On the other hand, the form chart has taken on some fascinating features.

This Knights' edition has developed earmarks of last year's team. They showed it when they became the OHL regular season champions again Sunday.

They still can find a way. This time it was Bolland, whose three goals included the coffin nail for Erie Otters, a short-handed effort in overtime for his league-leading 56th goal and the team's 49th win.

It is not often a team can win its league three consecutive years, even rarer that a team can reach three straight 50-win seasons. Only one other major junior team has done it. The Knights, with 49 wins, have three games remaining to accomplish it.

The playoff battle toward the Memorial Cup in Moncton is a long one. No hockey trophy is so tough to get your hands on.

The Knights haven't been living on last season's press clippings because they've been churning out fresh ones. Still, it doesn't hurt to look back to where you've been for a clue to where you might be going.

Guys such as Dylan Hunter want to get back there. He and the veterans want to take the kids with them. "I tell the rookies not to take anything for granted," the captain said. "I remember my first game five years ago and how quickly time has passed. My advice to the young guys is 'Take it all in, remember it all.' "

It would be hard for any of them to miss the impact of last spring's Memorial Cup win. The veterans talk about it, graduated players come back and talk about it. It is difficult to be a member of the London Knights and not hear around town about the magical Memorial Cup.

But especially from the guys who couldn't hear a thing in the seconds before they got their hands on it.

HOUSE OF GREEN T-SHIRTS

What: Sale of House of Green T-shirts

Why: To raise funds for the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex and the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario; the hospital will use proceeds to assist in the purchase of two urgently needed life-saving ventilators in the pediatric critical care unit; the Children's Aid will use the funds to assist in permitting kids to participate in hockey and other sports.

Where: Knights' games, Pete's Sports, five Scotiabank branches

How much: $15


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