Knights shut Garden door

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE -- Thanks largely to David Bolland, the walls of the Sault Memorial Gardens are ready to start tumbling down.

The London star scored eight times in his team's four-game sweep of the Soo Greyhounds -- including the series winner to cap a hat trick with 49.2 seconds left in overtime last night.

The Knights bagged a 5-4 win in the final OHL game played at the 57-year-old Sault Memorial Gardens, before 3,872 people.

"They're probably going to put a portrait of my face on the side of the arena and then knock the place down," Bolland said with a grin.

Two nights after Sergei Kostitsyn played hero in Game 3, the 19-year-old Mimico native peeled in front of the 'Hounds net and beat London native Kyle Gajewski high with a backhand to send the Knights into the second round of the OHL playoffs.

It was the Knights' third straight first-round series sweep after knocking out Guelph in their run to the Memorial Cup title last year and pitching the shutout over Windsor in the 2004 playoffs.

"We're going to enjoy the rest . . . ," Bolland said. "It's been a long season for guys like (Rob) Schremp and I who played at the world juniors. The Soo didn't make it easy on us. The last two games were like hell. A lot of guys don't like to be hit and we were getting banged around, getting on us quickly and playing hard."

Ryan Kitchen, the Soo's lone over-age player, said the Greyhounds threw everything they had at the Knights but just couldn't get the big goal when they needed it most. London scored first in all four games and only trailed for 15:23 of the entire series -- in Game 3 before mounting the magical comeback.

"That's the thing that's toughest to take -- that we worked our hardest and it didn't pay off for us," Kitchen said. "I could see those guys on London were pretty beat up -- we gave them the maximum and pushed them. The only thing I could say to another team (about playing London) is don't let them get on the power play. We pretty much played them straight up or even better in five-on-five, but there's no power play around like that one. Don't give them any opportunities."

London was badly outshot for the third straight game, 54-34, and the disciplined Greyhounds finally found the key to staying in it by giving the Knights only three power-play opportunities in the contest. But despite blowing an early three-goal lead, the Knights have a bunch of character players who come up big in the most important games.

But none of them are bigger than Bolland, the slightly built offensive powerhouse who scored 57 times this season -- once for every season played in the Gardens.

"I just can't buy an assist these days," he said. "But I'm getting scoring chances. Not many guys have a great backhand, but I went to it there and it worked for me. I don't know if I was (in Gajewski's head). My second goal kind of caught him off guard, but you take whatever you get."

The last thing London needed was a long, drawn-out game, but the Greyhounds, who will move into the soon-to-be-completed entertainment centre being built next door to the Gardens, weren't keen on sending the old girl out with a loss.

Knights forward Kris Belan, who was handed a gross misconduct in Game 3, sat out the first of a five-game suspension given by the OHL for arguing with referee Darcy Burchell over an elbowing penalty.

Despite limping slightly into the arena, London defenceman Matt Pelech suited up and played a regular shift last night.

"It's not that bad," he said.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 5, Greyhounds 4 (OT)

London wins best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final 4-0

London goals: Adam Perry (2), David Bolland (3), including the series winner with 49.2 seconds left in overtime.

Sault Ste. Marie goals: Matt Lyall, Brandon MacLean, Andrew Desjardins (2)

Next: The Knights await their second-round opponent.


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