Knights down to last shot

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

This is uncharted territory for Dylan Hunter and many of his London Knights teammates.

In five years with the hockey club, the longest-serving Knight has yet to endure the humiliation of being swept from the playoffs in four straight games. The London captain doesn't want his last OHL memory to be of getting broomed from the league final by the Peterborough Petes.

"No one wants to be swept and I'll be very disappointed if we don't come out strong because our backs our against the wall," Hunter said of tonight's Game 4 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.

London must win four straight to reach the Memorial Cup because it finished on the wrong side of three straight one-goal games against the Petes -- the first two in overtime, then Tuesday on Jordan Morrison's winner with 29.6 seconds left in the third period at the John Labatt Centre.

"No one really said anything after the last game -- it was pretty quiet because it's a little disheartening to lose in the final seconds like that," Hunter said yesterday from Peterborough "We did talk a little bit on the bus. (Goalie Adam Dennis) talked. (David Bolland) said something. We're just trying to let everyone know the games have been close and could've gone either way.

"It's not like we don't belong in the same barn as them."

Hunter, Dennis and the rest of the Knights' graduating top guns woke up yesterday to the real possibility they have already played their last game at the JLC. London stars Rob Schremp and David Bolland don't want Knights fans' last memory of them to be coughing up the puck and being held pointless in Game 3.

"That's a big thing -- we're playing for a chance to play back at home again (tomorrow night)," Hunter said. "I think we'll (sow some seeds of doubt in the Petes) if we win this game. They take pride in playing in their barn, like we do in ours. We know they're going to come out right away and we have to match them.

"It would be nice to get a couple of goals early and try to protect the lead. That hasn't happened the last three games. We've had to come from behind to tie it late."

London hasn't been swept in a best-of-seven series since 1998, when the Knights fell to the Ottawa 67's in the OHL semifinal. If anything, London now knows how frustrated Guelph felt in the Western Conference final as the Knights beat the Storm twice in overtime and pulled off another third-period buzzer-beater to eliminate their rivals in a surprising five games.

"We can't complain about not getting the bounces because we got our share of bounces in getting to this point," Dennis said. "It's heart-breaking to lose games like that (in the final minute or in overtime)."

Dennis isn't sure if he will play tonight because his lower-body injury is day-to-day.

"If any team can come back, it's this one," London GM Mark Hunter said. "They've been fighting all year. There's a lot of character in that room. I don't look at it like (guys are playing for next year's jobs). I'm watching to see if guys keep competing. That's what I'm interested in -- I don't want to see anybody giving in."

Peterborough pest Steve Downie knows what it's like. With Windsor last year, he was a catalyst in engineering a four-game turnaround after dropping three games of a first-round series against Sault Ste. Marie.

"We're going to have to work even harder in Game 4," he said.

Not willing to tempt fate more than necessary, Peterborough head coach Dick Todd will have his players going for the knockout blow as they did in the Eastern Conference final, with a 7-0 blowout win over Barrie in Game 5.

"They're (the Knights) in a hole right now, but they won their division last year, they won their conference and they won the Memorial Cup," the veteran bench boss said. "There's a lot of pride in that dressing room."

The Knights have to translate that pride to the ice tonight -- or they're finished.

KNIGHTWATCH

(Peterborough leads best-of-seven OHL final 3-0)

Game 4: Today, 7 p.m. at Peterborough Memorial Centre

Game 5 (if necessary): Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. at John Labatt Centre

Cup update: The Memorial Cup in Moncton is awaiting its fourth and final participant from the Knights-Petes series. The Vancouver Giants just wrapped up a four-game sweep over the Moose Jaw Warriors to claim the WHL championship. The Quebec Remparts and Moncton Wildcats are playing in the QMJHL final and have booked the other two tournament spots.


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