Greyhounds kept at bay

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:51 AM ET

There's really no need to tune the television to CBS to catch some wild Survivor action.

You just had to be at the John Labatt Centre last night to see top-ranked London hanging on for dear life in the crazy third period of a nervous Knights' 6-3 victory over the hungry Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds before 9,090 nail-biting patrons last night.

To borrow from the show, London left its stellar goalie Adam Dennis on some defensively deserted island as the Soo tried desperately to erase a 4-0 deficit by scoring three times in a 2:20 span in that third and outshooting the Knights 15-3 in what was the most one-sided 20 minutes by a visiting club at the JLC this season.

London now drags a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final to the Sault for games tomorrow and Tuesday, but the Knights know their late breakdown gave the 'Hounds life and the underdogs will be much more difficult to topple.

"If I was them, I would be pretty pumped after that third period," London captain Dylan Hunter said. "We hung Adam out to dry. It brings you down a level. We were up 4-0 and thought we were unbeatable. We won the game, but we know that's now how we have to play.

"I think it's just getting used to playoff hockey. It's not pretty. Teams try to bottle you up and goals are only scored on the power play or by finishing the cycle. We adjusted last year and we can do it this year."

The 21-year-old Dennis stopped 43 shots and was at his acrobatic best to keep London ahead in the series.

His performance left some on the Soo bench shaking their heads and led the Greyhounds head coach to call him the best goalie in the league.

"I think he is -- he's a big part of that team and they're the best in the league," Hartsburg said. "I thought we had a hell of game, but we have to play almost a perfect game to beat London. You have four or five breakdowns and great players like David Bolland and Rob Schremp make you pay. You can't have any breakdowns against them."

The Knights proved they can have numerous breakdowns and still win, though they certainly don't want to walk that line very often.

"We didn't give him (Dennis) any help," said Bolland, who scored twice for the second straight game. "We managed to pull it out there at the end, but we had some mental lapses and let them back in it. We're going to go there (to the Sault) and we know they're going to be tough."

Dennis, who claims he isn't the least bit superstitious and alternated between a set of white and black pads for colour co-ordination purposes during the regular season, has decided to go with a white-out for the rest of the Knights' playoff run this year.

"I just got the black set too late in the season," he said. "I'm not superstitious or anything like that. I'm just going to bring the one (white) set to the Sault with me. Black (jerseys on the road) or white, I'll keep wearing them."

Greyhound Brandon MacLean felt Dennis was able to make the timely save and that was the reason why the 'Hounds aren't going home with a split. The Knights goalie was brilliant as his team killed 1:19 of a five-on-three disadvantage in the third with the Sault looking for the equalizer.

That flurry ended up as the Greyhounds' last gasp -- MacLean took a late penalty and Adam Perry tipped home Rob Schremp's power-play slapper for the insurance marker and Bolland hit the empty net.

"(Dennis is) a great goalie, especially down low," MacLean said. "We have to try to go up high on him. But we're doing the things we want to be doing against them. We just have to go home and play Greyhound hockey."

The 'Hounds will try to win at least one game to stave off the closing of the Sault Memorial Gardens and force Game 5 on March 30 in London.

Despite backstopping the last two OHL championship teams and last year's Memorial Cup champs, Dennis has never been named top OHL goalie. "I'm not going to worry about it."

GAME GLANCE

Knights 6, Hounds 3

London leads the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final 2-0

London goals: David Bolland (2), Josh Beaulieu, Rob Schremp, Robbie Drummond, Adam Perry

Soo goals: Scott Restoule, Ryan Kitchen, Brandon MacLean

Next: The Knights and Greyhounds play Game 3 tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Sault Memorial Gardens.

KNIGHTS 6

'HOUNDS 3


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