Upstart Attack menace Knights

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Look out, London -- you're dancing with Cinderella in the second round of the OHL playoffs.

The top-ranked Knights will face the Owen Sound Attack in a Western Conference semifinal beginning Friday at the John Labatt Centre.

London drew Owen Sound because the Plymouth Whalers, who meet Guelph, eliminated the Windsor Spitfires with a 6-2 victory in Game 7 last night at the Compuware Sports Arena.

Sixth-seeded Owen Sound pulled off the most shocking upset of the first round by sending Kitchener packing in a five-game rout of the powerhouse Rangers.

But it would be an even bigger boon for the Attack to knock out the defending Memorial Cup champions.

"I thought Kitchener was right there with us this year, so for Owen Sound to beat them out in five games like that, they're going into the second round with a lot of momentum," London's leading scorer Rob Schremp said. "Teams like that are dangerous. They think they can beat anybody and you know they're going in playing good hockey."

London and Owen Sound last met in the postseason in 1999 when the Knights beat the then-Platers in five games to win the Western title. Those Knights lost the OHL final to Belleville in seven games.

This year, London won the season series 4-2, but both of the Attack wins -- an 8-1 home blowout and 4-3 squeaker at the JLC -- came in September before the Knights had Schremp, captain Dylan Hunter and goalie Adam Dennis back from pro camps.

Since then, London has captured four straight games, although the contests were close -- a 3-2 home win on Nov. 18, a 3-2 overtime road victory on Dec. 3, a 4-3 home triumph on March 10 and a 3-1 road win the following night to clinch the Knights' third straight Western Conference regular-season title.

London, which hasn't played since sweeping the Soo Greyhounds last Tuesday, is wary of Owen Sound, which boasts the defending OHL goalie of the year in Michael Ouzas, an under-rated defensive corps and a hard-working group of forwards who displayed a lethal scoring touch against Kitchener.

Attack over-age forward Mike Angelidis, whose overtime winner in Game 5 eliminated the Rangers, scored 53 goals in a breakout season.

"The difference between them and a team of hard-working players like Windsor is that Owen Sound has Bobby Ryan," Schremp said. "He's a great player -- he's all finesse and he made a lot of great plays against Kitchener."

Many OHL observers thought Ryan, who Anaheim took with the second pick of the 2005 NHL draft, would stage a battle with Schremp for the OHL scoring title this season. But the Knights forward ended up with a league-best 145 points while Ryan inexplicably failed to crack the 100-point barrier.

"We've become pretty good friends through playing with the Americans (at the world junior hockey championship)," Schremp said. "We'll chirp each other now and then and we'll give each other a slash when we have to, but it'll be good to go up against him. It's a good test for our team."

London will again be without defenceman Frank Rediker for the series. The 21-year-old blue-liner has not been given the green light to participate in game action because of his lingering elbow injury.

KNIGHTS VS. ATTACK

OHL Western Conference semifinal

Friday: at London, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: at Owen Sound 7:30 p.m.

Monday: at London, 7 p.m.

April 12: at Owen Sound, 7:30 p.m.

x-April 14: at London, 7:30 p.m.

x-April 15: at Owen Sound, 7:30 p.m.

x-April 17: at London, 7 p.m.

x-if necessary


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