Knights beat clock, Storm

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

GUELPH -- Like all sports-loving kids, Ryan Martinelli grew up watching in awe as basketball stars hit buzzer-beating jump shots.

He saw clutch batters clear the bases with pinch-hit, ninth-inning home runs.

But only in his wildest dreams did London's six-foot-five, stay-at-home defenceman -- he of two goals in 119 OHL games -- imagine he'd bury the winning goal with two seconds left in the third period to give the Knights a shocking 2-1 victory over the Guelph Storm before 4,700 last night at the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre.

The dramatic win gives London a 3-1 stranglehold on the best-of-seven Western Conference final and leaves the Knights one win away from a second straight trip to the OHL championship series. Game 5 is Friday night at the John Labatt Centre.

"You don't expect to see a goal in the last two seconds like that, let alone from me," said Martinelli, a 19-year-old London native. "It felt just like an overtime goal. I'm just glad I got my first OHL playoff goal in a game that we really needed. We played a great road game and it erases our (7-1) loss in Game 2 here."

Was it his biggest goal?

"I've only got two (others), so it sure was," he said. "When the puck was dropped, I knew there was 14 seconds left. It went to the side (boards) near the blue-line and I was just hoping to get a good shot on net."

It turned out to be a great shot that zipped right into the corner pocket. Guelph goalie and former Knight Ryan MacDonald never saw the puck because London forward Josh Beaulieu was standing right in front of him acting as a screen.

"Just being on the ice and getting to celebrate, it was a great feeling -- it's exciting," Beaulieu said. "It was a big goal by Marty (Martinelli) and this win makes up for the embarrassment we had here in Game 2."

London went into the third period trailing 1-0 thanks to Guelph forward Kelsey Wilson's sixth goal of the series in the second frame. But the Knights, who hadn't won in the Royal City their previous four visits this season, felt better about the way they had played in this tightly-strung contest.

They felt even more confident when London forward Adam Perry whipped the puck past MacDonald early in the third for his team's first road power-play goal of the series. Teammates Rob Schremp drew an assist on that goal, which gave him 30 in 14 post-season games to tie him for second in an OHL post-season with Belleville's Justin Papineau during the 1999 campaign. The record is 33 and owned by Peterborough's Cameron Mann, who took 24 games to establish the mark in 1997.

London defenceman Frank Rediker played his first game since March 1 when he suffered a dislocated elbow in Belleville and logged productive minutes. The Knights kept Trevor Kell, who had filled in on the blue line during Rediker's injury, with Robbie Drummond and Josh Beaulieu on a checking line and the hard-working forward drew the lone assist on Martinelli's magical marker.

Taking a page from London's playbook, Guelph head coach Dave Barr gave his top line of Ryan Callahan, Matt D'Agostini and Kelsey Wilson major minutes usually reserved the Knights' big guns -- Dylan Hunter, David Bolland and Schremp. Barr will have to play them even more the rest of the way to give his team a chance at getting back in this series.

"Friday night," Barr said. "That's our only focus. In Game 2, pucks went in for us. We didn't score as many goals as we would've liked (last night)."

You can chalk that up to the fine play of London goalie Adam Dennis, who has been near unbeatable since he was yanked after a poor outing in Game 2. The former Guelph goalie outplayed MacDonald and made several carnival saves to set the stage for Martinelli's heroics.

"A hit goal post, a missed net, that's the difference in a tight series," London head coach Dale Hunter said. "Marty made a good shot there and hit the corner of the net."

Guelph, surprised to have its back against the wall despite some dominant play in the series, will have to beat London in its own rink to extend the series. It's not an easy task -- the Knights have only lost one game at home this post-season.

"We have to play a dirty (ugly) road game," Pottruff said. "It's not an easy place to win and we can't worry about impressing anybody out there. We can't take a bunch of penalties -- we took too many in Game * -- because the penalty kill takes a lot out of you and you're down to four or five defencemen in the playoffs."

Looking back at the series, the Storm never expected to be down 3-1 in this series. Losing on home ice to London wasn't part of the plan.

But for one night, one of the Knights' biggest unsung heroes in recent memory made like Michael Jordan and has put his team's greatest foe on the ropes.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 2, Storm 1

(London leads best-of-seven Western Conference final 3-1)

London goals: Adam Perry and Ryan Martinelli with the dramatic winner with two seconds left in the third period.

Guelph goal: Kelsey Wilson

Next: Game 5 goes Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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