Knights OT aces, Petes even better

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

The double-shifting London Knights say they don't feel any ill effects from playing nearly 95 minutes during Friday's 6-5 double-overtime loss in the OHL final opener.

But they might want to start winning games in regulation because Peterborough head coach Dick Todd built his Petes for these kind of marathons.

"At the start of the year, we had them running five miles outside for conditioning," Todd said after Petes forward Patrick Kaleta banked the winner off London netminder Adam Dennis' goal stick.

"I don't think fatigue is as big a factor as it used to be. The rinks are all air-conditioned now so it isn't as hot and the players don't feel it as much. If you play all of your lines, it helps even more."

London had been a perfect 5-0 in playoff overtimes this spring before running into Peterborough's extra-session wizards, who won their seventh straight sudden-death game without a defeat. The Petes won the Eastern Conference championship with three such victories over Barrie, including a triple-overtime thriller.

Todd wouldn't call his team destined to win in overtime, but with seven of 13 playoff victories in extra time, that's more than coincidence. That's a trend.

"One thing I learned to succeed in this league is you need a lot of older players," Todd said. "We have a lot of veterans and London has a lot, too, so it really comes down to bounces and we got one (on Kaleta's bank-pass goal)."

With its high-end forwards, London knows it's at a disadvantage when a game drags on longer than one overtime. The ice usually becomes choppy and that can mean trouble for the skilled Knights passers.

"The ice was terrible (at the end)," Schremp said. "The puck was bouncing all over and wouldn't sit down. And I don't know what was going on out there with my sticks. They were breaking like crazy."

London goalie Adam Dennis made 64 saves and was stellar in overtime, including stopping Kaleta on a penalty shot.

"But there were a couple of goals in regulation that I would like to have back," he said. "I thought our team played well and we had our chances to win. But we gave up home-ice advantage, so now we know we have to take a game in Peterborough."

Petes goalie David Shantz finally beat Dennis in a final after his Mississauga IceDogs were swept by the then-Guelph goalie in the 2004 championship series.

"It's fair to say he (Shantz) didn't have the same kind of team in Mississauga as this Peterborough team and he was pretty much the reason the IceDogs made it to the final that year," Dennis said. "I think the one thing about playing in a third straight final, is you don't get too nervous. You know how the games are going to work and how much media there's going to be. A goalie's job doesn't change. It's still to stop the puck and make the saves at the right time."

Usually, those saves have to come against players that aren't normally the top goal-getters.

"In my mind, it usually doesn't really come down to the snipers," Dennis said. "In a close series, you need guys to step up that you don't expect. That always seems to be the case."

But Kaleta, a 19-year-old native of Angola, N.Y., is no stranger to playing the hero role. His winner was his third overtime goal of these playoffs.

"We're glad to get a game here (in London) but we know it's only one game," Kaleta said. "We're not that tired because we roll our lines pretty well the entire game. It really helps in overtime and we're pretty confident when we get there."

It's a confidence London will try to shatter -- or at least avoid altogether by deciding games in the standard three periods.

KNIGHTWATCH

Peterborough leads best-of-seven OHL final 1-0

Game 2: Today, 4:30 p.m. at the Peterborough Memorial Centre

Game 3: Tuesday, 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre


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