Bolland excited that mates stepped up

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

David Bolland has played in enough big junior hockey games that he doesn't feel overwhelmed by anxiety or nervousness in even the most pressure-packed postseason contests.

But the London star and world junior gold medallist admits there were some nail-biting moments where he thought his Knights career could end while he was sitting on the sidelines serving his four-game suspension for kicking Owen Sound's Mike Angelidis in Game 2 of the second round.

"Of course, you think about that a little bit -- it goes through your mind," the high-scoring forward said. "We were down 2-1, but I was excited to see how our guys came through (to win in six games). It's a great feeling. We had guys step up with play that we hadn't seen from them in the past.

"We've always been a compact group. There's no one group here and one group over there. We're all in this together and we know it's going to be a great series with Guelph (starting tonight at the John Labatt Centre)."

Bolland was unhappy with his suspension and issued a statement on his feelings to the media. He wasn't concerned the image-conscious OHL might add extra games or fine him for speaking out in that manner.

"There's two sides to every story and all I can say (about Angelidis' comments that he was hit with a "laser kick to the crotch") is that we're still playing and we're in the Western Conference final," Bolland said. "For me, that kicking stuff is in the past. I'm looking forward to playing against Guelph and trying to beat (former Knight goalie) Ryan MacDonald."

The Chicago Blackhawks prospect, a 57-goal scorer in the regular season, was on an offensive tear at the time of his suspension with back-to-back hat tricks and 11 goals in his first five playoff games. He's hoping the week and a half between games hasn't cooled him off.

"When you're suspended, they (the coaches) make you skate," the 19-year-old from Mimico said. "I'm tired of skating for two hours every day. I want to start playing again."

Bolland's return to London's potent power-play unit means Robbie Drummond, who scored three times with the man advantage on Saturday to eliminate the Attack, will surrender his star status. The London native has eight goals in 10 playoff games after going goal-less in his first 35 OHL postseason contests.

"My ice time will likely go down and I won't see the time on the power play like I did because, obviously, David's going to be out there and he's very crafty with the puck," Drummond said.

"With the team we had last year, I wasn't in a scoring role. But now, I'm counted on a little bit more. It gives you a lot of confidence when the puck's going in. It looks like I'm a pretty streaky scorer -- they're coming in bunches."

No one knows that more than Rob Schremp, who hasn't scored since his late two-goal rally in Game 3 of London's first-round series against Sault Ste. Marie -- a goal-less streak of seven games. Despite the drought, Schremp still leads the playoff point parade by two over blossoming teammate Sergei Kostitsyn.

As of yesterday, London's Kris Belan was still waiting to hear from the OHL whether his charging major on Owen Sound's Bob Sanguinetti warrants a suspension. The 19-year-old Florence native was playing in his second tilt after serving five games for uttering a slur to referee Darcy Burchell in the Sault.

"I don't know what's going to happen," the big winger said. "I just came off suspension and you really want to stay in the lineup. I didn't leave my feet and it was off the faceoff when it happened. The puck went from defenceman to defenceman and my job on that play is to hit that guy in the corner. It's unfortunate he got hurt. You never go out there with the intention of hurting anyone."

Belan was also given a curious fight instigator penalty for dropping the mitts with Owen Sound's Igor Gongalsky after the play.

"I saw Gongalsky shaking his gloves like he wanted to take them off and he said, 'Let's go,' " Belan said. "I didn't do anything to start a fight. The last thing you want to do after a hit like that is try to start a fight with someone."

Both London and Guelph start the series with question marks on defence. Storm defender and former Knight Ryan Pottruff was using crutches at the end of the Plymouth series but says he has been feeling better this week.

"It's a lower-body injury and I should be ready to go," Pottruff said.

London veteran blue-liner Frank Rediker, who has been out for a month and a half with a dislocated elbow, is listed as a game-time decision and should be cleared to return during the series.

KNIGHTS VS. STORM

OHL Western Conference final

Game 1: Tonight, 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Game 2: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. at Guelph

Game 3: Sunday, 6 p.m. at the JLC

Game 4: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. at Guelph

x-Game 5: April 28, 7:30 p.m. at the JLC

x-Game 6: April 30, 3 p.m. at Guelph

x-Game 7: May 1, 7 p.m. at the JLC

x-if necessary


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