Young Staal gives Knights pause

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Because they both log a lot of ice time, London's David Bolland and Peterborough's Jordan Staal have been seeing a lot of each other in the OHL final.

The London Knights star keeps running up against the latest instalment of the impressive Staal family, whose performance against the defending Memorial Cup champs in this series hasn't hurt his reputation as a top pick in this summer's NHL draft.

"I played with his brother (Sudbury Wolves graduate and New York Rangers prospect) Marc Staal at the world juniors," Bolland said. "It's just a coincidence we're out there together so much. We both play on the power play and kill penalties, plus five-on-five, so it's going to happen. He's a talented player."

The 17-year-old Staal is two years younger than the veteran Bolland but has been a dominant player who has frustrated the Knights. He comes from a long line of good players -- starting with brother Eric of the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I'm just trying to do my best against (Bolland)," the six-foot-four, 208-pound Thunder Bay native said. "I didn't talk to (brother) Marc about him or anything like that. I'm on my own here."

Staal's long, fluid stride gave Bolland fits in Game 1 and the youngster actually outskated the quick Knight and Chicago Blackhawks prospect to a loose puck, which raised some eyebrows in the crowd. Bolland responded later in the game by nailing Staal with a helmet-popping hit that jarred the Petes forward.

"There's not much you can do about it," Staal said. "You just keep playing."

In hockey tradition, you take a number -- it's No. 91, of course, -- and try to get revenge in a more creative way. Bolland, who has never been shy about dishing out as much as he receives, said it's all part of healthy competition.

"We're both out there trying to help our teams get wins," he said. "We don't talk to each other much. I'm not a guy who says a lot out there. I just try to play my game."

London defenceman David Halasz, who sees Bolland every day in practice and played against Staal routinely while with the Ottawa 67's and Oshawa Generals, feels the Petes have a good contrast of big, strong forwards and speedy, small types.

"It's easier to play against the bigger, slower guys," he said. "Their small guys, like Liam Reddox's line, can skate. Maybe they don't have as much skill as (Bolland and Rob Schremp) but they're quicker. "Against Reddox, I've always tried to hit him. Guys who are small and skilled usually don't like to be hit."


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