Knights deny they're tired

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

The London Knights want everyone to know they aren't tired.

They may have looked that way during their 4-3 loss to the Owen Sound Attack on Monday, but coach Dale Hunter and regular-season scoring champion Rob Schremp dispute that notion.

"Nope, not tired at all," Schremp said. "I don't know who's saying we're tired, but they must be smoking some good stuff."

"No, we're fine," Hunter said.

The Knights get a chance to prove that as they head to Owen Sound tonight for Game 4 of their OHL quarter-final with the Attack up 2-1.

David Bolland will serve the second game of a four-game suspension for kicking, Jordan Foreman is out with a lower body injury, Kris Belan is serving the last game of a five-game suspension and Josh Beaulieu is still hobbled.

Those players provide a big part of the toughness and Foreman and Bolland chew up a lot of ice time. The Knights have become known for going with a short bench.

"Hey, it might have looked like we were tired because when you're at the end of a four-minute shift, you are tired. But you recover quickly on the bench," Schremp said. "I feel rejuvenated today, ready to go."

Schremp said tonight's game is the biggest of the year.

"We'll be playing desperate hockey, but our experience will help. We were in the same scenario against Guelph (two years ago). Guys who where here know what it's like when they went down 3-1 to Guelph.

"This is a character game. We're not going to lay down and die."

The Knights tied that series 3-3, then lost Game 7.

It's going to be tough sledding. The Knights are still reeling from Bolland's suspension.

On the ice, Schremp said they haven't been surprised by anything the Attack have done. But the Knights have to start scoring more.

"They've been getting the bounces," Schremp said. "Part of playoff hockey, part of the series, there'll be times when you go through droughts. Myself, there's been times when I have an empty net and I've been hitting the goalie in the (butt) or missing the net. Those bounces are going to come to us sooner or later."

Predicting what's going to happen tonight is easy. It will be the same type of tough, grinding hockey with everyone looking to finish their checks.

Knights GM Mark Hunter said after Game 3 it was obvious Owen Sound was targeting the Knights skill players. Brother Dale agreed.

"Their objective is to try and take away skill. We've got to battle through it," said Dale Hunter. "It's unfortunate (they're) your skilled guys and they're taking runs and potshots at them."

Both Hunters singled out the Attack's Theo Peckham.

"Peckham is a tough kid and Schremp is all skill and I think the objective is to try and hurt Schremp," said Dale Hunter.

"I don't have any response to that," said Attack GM Mike Futa. "Theo Peckham might have been named the first star (Monday). He hasn't been involved in a fight in a month and a half. He's just playing hard. He's not trying to hurt anyone. We're just playing hard.

"I think even when you read what their game plan is, they have to stop Bobby Ryan."

Sure enough, Schremp thinks the Knights have to do whatever they can to slow down the Attack's big gun.

"What we need to do is hit Bobby Ryan a little more," Schremp said. "He's a tough guy and he's trying to get through the neutral zone a little too easily. Maybe we need a good open-ice hit or a few more hits to slow him down. We do that, maybe we do a better job of shutting him down."

Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said there's more than just Ryan. They have to keep the puck away from defencemen Bob Sanguinetti and Andrej Sekera.

"They can skate and create a lot of chances," said Beaulieu. Adjustments are being made but what they are, Beaulieu isn't saying.

What can be said is the Knights are going to have to find a spark of energy from somewhere. Otherwise, they'll be looking at having to come from a long way back.

KNIGHTWATCH

Best-of-seven OHL Western Conference semifinal

Owen Sound leads London 2-1

Game 4: Tonight at Owen Sound, 7 p.m.

Game 5: Friday at the John Labatt Centre, 7:30 p.m.


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