Patrick Kaleta knows better than to say something inflammatory about Rob Schremp and the London Knights before the OHL final begins Friday night.
Had he decided to let go a few verbal blasts this week, the Peterborough Petes forward possesses heavy ammunition at his disposal. The Knights and the Petes only meet twice each regular season, but it hasn’t been a cordial business relationship lately.
Two months ago, London and Peterborough opened a game with four fights in eight seconds. Last season, there was a line brawl. This year, London ruined Peterborough’s 50th anniversary celebration by beating them twice and claiming a third straight OHL regular-season title by three points over the Eastern Conference champion Petes.
On a personal level, Kaleta recalled a pre-OHL battle when his West Seneca Wings were knocked out of the state championship by Schremp’s Syracuse squad.
“So I’m looking for revenge a few years down the road,” the 19-year-old from Angola, N.Y., said. “Rob has always been a tremendous player, the best on his team.”
Despite the niceties, could there be more fisticuffs from the two teams in a best-of-seven series to decide which club represents the OHL at the Memorial Cup in Moncton later this month?
“You don’t know. It’s hard to tell right now,” Kaleta said. “It depends on what happens out there (on the ice).”
One thing’s for sure — there won’t be many insults hurled before the action starts. London won’t find motivation from a Pete’s mouth because both teams know what can happen with a misdirected comment.
In the dressing room after London reeled off another miracle win to eliminate Guelph, Schremp said the Knights were motivated by comments they heard were made by former teammate Ryan Pottruff, now a Storm defenceman.
Pottruff told London equipment manager Chris Maton, an old pal, the Knights were a “good junior B team with a power play” after losing 7-1 at Guelph in Game 2. Maton told London assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu about the remark and it was relayed back to the players.
“That got us boiling,” Schremp said. “Maybe he should be in junior B, I don’t know. But we came out the last three games and proved to him what we’re all about.”
Peterborough GM Jeff Twohey already knows what London is all about and is showing the defending Memorial Cup champions ultimate respect.
“Our team is trying to get to where they are,” he said. “They’re the defending champs for a reason. They have a good team and I have so much respect for what Mark and Dale (Hunter) have built there. This is a good opportunity for us to see if we’ve improved since we played them in the regular season.”
Both teams are spotless in playoff overtimes — London is 5-0 while Peterborough is 6-0, including three extra-session wins over Barrie in the Eastern Conference final.
“We’ve won a couple in overtime and it’s been a big boost,” Kaleta said. “We’re rolling our lines (like the Petes did all season) and we’re really looking forward to this series.”
So is Peterborough teammate Steve Downie, who was bounced quickly from the playoffs by London the past two years while with Windsor. Likewise, London defenceman David Halasz grew to hate the Petes as a member of the Oshawa Generals and Ottawa 67’s before moving to the Knights.
Game 4 of the OHL final, which will be aired by Cogeco Cable in Peterborough, will be picked up in London by Rogers Television.
OHL FINAL SCHEDULE
Knights vs. Petes
Friday: at London, 7:30 p.m. (Rogers TV)
Sunday, May 7: at Peterborough, 4:30 p.m. (Rogers Sportsnet)
Tuesday, May 9: at London, 7 p.m. (Rogers TV)
Thursday, May 11: at Peterborough, 7 p.m. (Rogers TV from Cogeco feed)
Friday, May 12: at London, 7:30 p.m., if necessary (Rogers TV)
Sunday, May 14: at Peterborough, 4:30 p.m., if necessary (Rogers Sportsnet)
Tuesday, May 16: at London, 7 p.m., if necessary (Rogers TV)
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