Not many goaltenders relish the chance to face the offensively gifted London Knights in a shootout.
But though he's not Irish, red-hot Windsor puckstopper Anthony Guadagnolo was feeling pretty good about his luck -- especially after seeing the OHL's leading scorer Rob Schremp ejected 17 seconds before the breakaway contest.
With Schremp out, the 20-year-old Windsor goalie stopped all five Knights shooters and teammate Patrick Davis beat Adam Dennis for the lone shootout goal to put an end to London's 13-game winning streak 5-4 before 9,090 last night at the John Labatt Centre.
After personally bringing his team back with three power-play goals in the third, Schremp appeared to score the winner in overtime but the play was whistled dead to signal a Windsor penalty. Schremp got a 10-minute misconduct for his actions after the call and was unable to participate in the shootout.
"I guess that's the way it works," he said. "I guess I got it for faking shooting the puck after the call. But the whistle shouldn't have blown. It was a delayed penalty and they never touched the puck before I scored."
Windsor, which had been eliminated from the playoffs the past three years by London and had a 23-game losing streak against the Knights the last three years, didn't want to be present when their nemesis joined the 1989-92 Kamloops Blazers as the only Canadian Hockey League teams to win 50 games in three consecutive seasons.
"We never really felt out of it and we're disappointed because we wanted to get our 50th win," said Schremp, who now has 55 goals -- one back of OHL leader and teammate David Bolland. "They (Windsor have) been a lot better since the (Christmas) break. They're going to be tough in the playoffs."
Since joining the Spits this season from Ottawa, Guadagnolo is 3-0 against London.
"For some reason, I always feel good against those guys. I don't know what it is, but I thought I played pretty well in the first two periods.
"I gave up three in the third, but those are to a kid who probably should've been playing in the NHL this year."
London wore its green third jerseys to commemorate St. Patrick's Day, but the outcome meant nothing in the standings to the Knights, who sat out rookie defenceman Scott Aarssen to heal a leg injury. Several Knights could be left behind when the team heads to Erie today.
The Spits could finish in sixth spot in the Western Conference if they beat the Attack tonight in Owen Sound, although the consensus is teams would rather end up in seventh than play the powerful Kitchener Rangers.
"Some might say it's better to avoid playing Kitchener, but whether it's the first round or the third round, you're probably going to face them sometime anyway," Guadagnolo said. "So we might as well go in there and try to win."
Guadagnolo stoned Bolland twice with his shoulder and made several acrobatic saves among his 46 stops. There has been talk about who should be the league's most outstanding player and its hard to ignore Guadagnolo, who has led the Spitfires back to respectability.
Before the game, the Knights paid tribute to the JLC's food service general manager, Dave White, who died Wednesday at age 42 while awaiting a heart transplant in Ottawa. The Knights will wear his initials on their helmets for the remainder of the season and throughout the playoffs.
Spitfires 5, Knights 4 (Windsor wins shootout 1-0)
Windsor goals: Paul McFarland, Keaton Turkiewicz, Bryan Bickell, Bradley Snetsinger
London goals: Rob Schremp (3), Kris Belan
Next: London heads to Erie tonight and then closes the regular season against the Kitchener Rangers tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.
KNIGHTS VS. 'HOUNDS
Thursday, March 23: at London, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 24: at London, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 26: at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 28: at Sault Ste. Marie, 7 p.m.
x-Thursday, March 30: at London, 7 p.m.
x-Saturday, April 1: at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:30 p.m.
x-Monday, April 3: at London, 7 p.m.