Bonds endure, Dennis says

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

PETERBOROUGH -- Before wandering out of the visiting dressing room to meet the press, London goalie Adam Dennis hugged defencemen Frank Rediker and David Halasz, his blue-line brothers.

Playoff losses break up teams, but rarely do they snap the bonds built up over eight months together.

"I have never played on a team with as much character as this," said Dennis, 21. "Last year's Memorial Cup was a thrill, of course, but this year, I feel like I have 23 brothers. I would go to war with these guys anytime, anywhere."

Dennis overcame a painful groin injury to help the powerhouse Knights win the Memorial Cup title on home ice last year. But his performance in London's four-game defeat by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL final was hindered by a left knee injury -- a suspected tear of the meniscus that was to be confirmed by an MRI later this week.

Dennis allowed four goals in the first period before giving way to rookie backup Steve Mason in the second period. The veteran returned briefly in the third period as a stall tactic so the Knights could rest their top guns for a last-ditch effort to tie the game.

"I just tried to play like I always do," the Toronto native said. "I just didn't have the kind of outing I wanted. It's a disappointment."

Though Dennis is moving on from his junior career to what he hopes will be a long pro career in the Buffalo Sabres organization, he is confident the Knights are set in net for the future.

"Definitely, this team is in good hands," Dennis said. "Steve Mason is 17 years old and came into an OHL final and played the way he did. This team is going to be alright."

As over-agers, Dennis, London captain Dylan Hunter and Rediker have played their last games of junior hockey. It's expected top scorer Rob Schremp will join the Edmonton Oilers and David Bolland will be with the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

"Rob had a little blow-up at the end of the game, but I think that shows what kind of person he is," Dennis said. "He wears his heart on his sleeve. He let the emotion get the better of him there, but I hope I can meet up with him again down the road.

"Hopefully, we'll be on the same team."


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