Backup able to sub for Pelech

RYAN PYETTE, FREE PRESS SPORTS REPORTER

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE -- London defenceman Matt Pelech is unlikely to play tonight's Game 4 in the Knights' Western Conference quarter-final series against the Soo Greyhounds.

The first-round Calgary Flames pick, gained in a trade with the Sarnia Sting this season, injured a leg in the first period of London's 6-5 overtime victory in Game 3. He never returned to action and didn't skate at practice yesterday.

"It's not anything serious. It's a lower body injury and he's in therapy right now," London assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said.

The Knights dropped back slick-skating forward Robbie Drummond, who started the season on the blue line, as Pelech's replacement. At one point, London had Drummond and converted forward Trevor Kell at the back end of a late Soo powerplay.

"We knew it (a defensive injury) was going to happen sooner or later, but it was nice we had guys who have been in that position before," Beaulieu said.

"It's not like we were throwing someone who was cold back there into a difficult situation. We had experienced guys we could put back there."

London is already playing without over-age defenceman Frank Rediker, who is still recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered almost a month ago in Belleville. Recently, the 21-year-old Sterling Heights, Mich., native said he was targeting the second round of the playoffs for his return, but he has required an arm splint and has not resumed full practices with the team.

The loss of two top defenceman would cripple most clubs, but the Knights have persevered by using their wealth of experienced forwards more creatively.

Take Kell, the 19-year-old Thunder Bay native and Chicago prospect who has been a solid defenceman, despite never having played the position before he tried it after Rediker's recent woes.

"On our team, he's a No. 1 or No. 2 defenceman," Beaulieu said. "He skates so well and he's an older player, so it's no big deal if he gets knocked down. He has made good decisions and he's been put out against other teams' No. 1 lines."


Photos