Season saver

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

OWEN SOUND -- The London Knights always need Adam Dennis to stop as many pucks as humanly possible.

Saving the season, however, is an added bonus.

The 21-year-old goalie kicked aside 47 shots -- including 24 in a busy first period -- as the Knights quickly regained home-ice advantage over Owen Sound with a gutsy 5-1 victory to tie the OHL Western Conference semifinal series 2-2 before 3,414 last night at a foggy Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.

"We were disappointed about our loss (on Monday) after giving up the lead in the third period. We wanted to come out with a better effort and we did," Dennis said. "Our penalty kill did a great job (holding Owen Sound scoreless on nine attempts) and we had a lot of guys step up with David Bolland (suspended), Jordan Foreman (injured) out of the lineup and a couple other guys hurting."

By winning last night, London ensured a return trip to Owen Sound on Saturday for Game 6 of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal. Game 5 is tomorrow at the John Labatt Centre.

"It was one of the best games I've been a part of over the past two years," London captain Dylan Hunter said. "That was an important game -- we lose that one and we're in a difficult situation, but everyone on this team battled hard. It's nice to see Owen Sound deflated because it hasn't happened the past two games."

"It's probably the best game I've seen Jamie VanderVeeken play all year," Dylan Hunter said. "He was hitting and using his body and getting to loose pucks."

The Attack, whose fans were madly waving white sport socks in place of rally towels to spur on their team, missed a glorious opportunity to put a stranglehold on the Knights. VanderVeeken, who logged extra minutes with Bolland and Foreman out, scored five minutes into the game and London killed off four consecutive penalties in the first period as Dennis worked his magic.

The turning point for the Knights was killing off a long two-man disadvantage early in the third period with successive penalties given to defencemen Matt Pelech and Trevor Kell six seconds apart late in the middle frame.

"That was a huge character test for us and I think we're just going to soar from this," VanderVeeken said. "Both teams knew how important this game was -- and we won it."

Owen Sound's speedy defenceman Andrej Sekera missed on a breakaway chance late in the second period and said that not scoring on the five-on-three chance was a big factor in the loss.

"Dennis played well and they just outworked us," Sekera said.

"He (Dennis) was the goaltender of the year, wasn't he," Owen Sound head coach Mike Stothers added. "We can't be too upset with how we played. We're tied 2-2 with the London Knights, so we're feeling pretty good about ourselves."

Dennis felt the fog didn't inhibit him and Owen Sound counterpart Michael Ouzas, who kept London scoring star Rob Schremp goalless for a fourth straight game. The nets did mysteriously jump off their moorings several times on both sides of the ice to force stoppages.

"The fog wasn't too bad but there were a couple of times when the puck was dumped at me, I thought maybe I should just stack the pads to stop it," Dennis said.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 5, Attack 1

(Best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal tied 2-2)

London goals: Jamie VanderVeeken, Adam Perry, Robbie Drummond, Sergei Kostitsyn (2)

Owen Sound goal: Andrej Sekera

Next: Game 5 is tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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