Dennis holds the fort for Knights

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

Usually after a carpet-bombing, the damage is widespread and severe, but here was Adam Dennis, unscathed and serene.

The day after the London Knights goalie faced a withering barrage from the Owen Sound Attack, it was business as usual. Dennis was looking ahead to tonight's game, rather than dwelling long on the typhoon of rubber he faced Wednesday night in Owen Sound, where he held things together while the London skaters got untracked.

The Buffalo Sabres draft pick has had some big periods of hockey, but few as timely as Wednesday's first period, when he faced 25 shots. By game's end, only one of the 48 drives directed at the London goal got past him.

The result was critical, inasmuch as the 5-1 London win tied the series at two games apiece. And on the personal achievement level, it was a pretty emphatic response to the excellent goaltending of Owen Sound's Michael Ouzas earlier in the series.

GAME GUIDE

KNIGHTS VS. ATTACK

Best-of-seven Ontario Hockey League Western Conference semifinal tied 2-2

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

Tomorrow: Game 6, 7:30 p.m. at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre

OK Adam, pull out the lucky rabbit's foot, invoke an arcane message, murmur a secret chant for luck? None of the above.

"No, my superstition might be not having any," Dennis said. "Come playoff time, you like to get into routines, but that's all. You get into superstitious things and it makes you think about other things."

Technically strong, all Dennis wants to think about is his game and all the things that won him his various honours, the most recent being named top goalie in the Ontario Hockey League.

There is much to be said for experience. You don't go through seasons like the Knights did last year and this, particularly with a Memorial Cup win, without gaining confidence.

He's won two league championships and has more wins than any other goalie in OHL history. Safe to say, at this juncture, he knows how to prepare for critical games.

"You can't really change anything game to game so you just try to go in relaxed," Dennis said.

One thing he didn't have in Owen Sound was a view of anything beyond centre ice. As the game progressed, fog built up at ice level, enough that coach Dale Hunter was concerned that a player could catch a puck in the face if it got any worse.

Dennis, after that first-period bombardment, could be excused if he imagined bombers coming out of the clouds.

"A few times I wanted to leave my net to move the puck up but I wasn't sure where it was coming from, so I didn't," Dennis said.

Dennis takes the pragmatic view that no goalie can come up with an endless string of stolen games. His job is to keep his mates in position to win them.

"If I can make an extra save here or there and give our guys some more confidence boost, I love to do it. We're just showing our depth the last couple of games with guys out and guys playing hurt. I think our character will take us a long way."

Kernels

Knights general manager Mark Hunter's threat to demand the removal of on-air Rogers Television people for their criticisms was pretty ironic and he knows it. The broadcasters he targeted, Brent Lale and Leigh Cunningham, were merely demonstrating what Hunter expects of his players -- integrity.

But he sent a message and also took some of the focus off suspended star David Bolland. If it came to it, Rogers can always come up with alternate programming, but the Knights can't come up with an alternate network to carry their games.


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