Knights bounce back

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

Give David Bolland a second chance and he doesn't disappoint.

Shortly after being robbed by Guelph goalie Ryan MacDonald, the London star stayed in the slot and buried the power-play winner 5:56 into overtime.

The gutsy 3-2 win before 9,090 last night at the John Labatt Centre gives the Knights a 2-1 lead in the OHL's Western Conference final.

London saw its win as redemption for an embarrassing 7-1 loss in Game 2 at Guelph on Friday night.

Bolland, with 13 goals in nine playoff games, knows the clutch tally goes a long way in repairing the hit his image took from his four-game kicking suspension in the second-round series against Owen Sound.

"I thought the first one I had was going in -- I'm standing in the slot all alone and I let the slapper go and Macker (MacDonald) got his stick down," the 19-year-old from Mimico said. "I was like -- 'Geez, that was it.' But I got another one and I just shot it again and it went right through a defenceman's legs."

The win lifts the Knights from a humiliating low two days earlier to a exhilarated high last night. It's the same emotion Bolland felt when he heard the JLC crowd wildly cheer his return before Game 1 of the series against the Storm.

"Some people jump off the bandwagon but look -- a game-winning goal," Bolland said, grinning. "The fans here are great and they've always been great to us. Even when I was sitting out, people who saw me were asking me how I was doing, how I was feeling, and I appreciated them asking me those questions."

London improved to 4-0 in postseason overtime play and it was Bolland's second winner. He closed down the Sault Memorial Gardens with a goal in extra time to complete the four-game sweep of the Greyhounds in that series.

KNIGHTS 3 STORM 2

"We're not a group that gets nervous about playing overtime," Bolland said. "We just go out there and look for our chances. When you have goalies like (Dennis and MacDonald), there's a good chance you're going to play in some close games. Both guys were phenomenal and Macker was standing on his head for them."

Bolland's goal came at the tail end of an interference call on Guelph defenceman Kyle Wharton. Guelph head coach Dave Barr didn't argue with the call and said he's fine with those kind of penalties as long as they're consistently made by the officials.

"If you give David Bolland five seconds in the slot like that, he's probably going to get off a pretty good shot," Barr said. "It's a little frustrating to come here and play two good games and have nothing to show for it. But we'll just have to win at home -- turn it into a homer (series)."

London and Guelph both had glorious chances to win it in the final minutes of the third period. London captain Dylan Hunter failed to sweep the puck past MacDonald into an open net and Dennis robbed current Knight-killer Kelsey Wilson as the puck rolled near the goal line with under two minutes left.

Before the series started, it was anticipated outcomes would boil down to a battle between the goalies. Dennis, who was yanked after a poor start Friday night, and MacDonald finally provided the expected theatrics last night.

"Adam got pulled last game and you know he's coming back because he's a big-game goaltender," said Guelph captain Ryan Callahan, who was the Dennis's roommate when they were teammates with the Storm. "You have to get pucks at him early because after something like that, you know he's going to have a great game."

London jumped to a 2-0 lead but Guelph tied it in the second period on two power-play goals from Ryan Parent and Wilson, who has five tallies in the first three games of the series.

In an effort to change its fortunes, London moved veteran Trevor Kell off the point and back to forward on a quick checking line with Josh Beaulieu and Robbie Drummond. The 19-year-old had played every playoff game on the blue-line and much of the final month of the regular-season as a defender after over-ager Frank Rediker went down with a dislocated elbow.

Guelph's loss is nothing new for them. They had a similar experience in the second round when they pounded Plymouth 8-0, then followed up with a 4-3 overtime loss the next game.

"We know we have to win at least one here (in London) and we would like to do it sooner than later," Callahan said.

A relieved Rob Schremp opened the scoring for London 7:43 into the game with his first goal in 10 playoff contest -- an eternity for a guy who scored 57 times in the regular season. The Knights scoring star, who popped a sweet Jamie VanderVeeken pass over MacDonald, said trying to score on his old pal was a carbon-copy problem of solving Owen Sound's Michael Ouzas.

"They're both the same goalie -- they react to the shot," Schremp said. "You pretty much have to go tic-tac-toe to beat them. Everyone always says, 'Shoot, shoot, shoot' but in Game 1, I shot and I was hitting shin pads. They're trying to take the shot away from me and that's fine. It means there's other guys open. I don't care if I score as long as I'm producing for the team."

GAME GLANCE

Knights 3, Storm 2 (OT)

(London leads best-of-seven Western Conference final 2-1)

London goals: Rob Schremp, Dylan Hunter and David Bolland with the winner 5:56 into overtime.

Guelph goals: Ryan Parent, Kelsey Wilson

Next: Game 4 goes tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre.


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