Champion Knights rekindle good times

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

As the American Hockey League leader in fighting majors last season, you could picture Brandon Prust looking at his upcoming schedule and circling what he felt would be his most combative contests.

But the 22-year-old Londoner who played for Calgary's farm team in Omaha, Neb., was more likely to scan the calendar checking for games where he would face off against fellow members of the 2005 Memorial Cup champion London Knights.

"You look forward to that," Prust said Thursday before participating in the Knights' annual golf tournament yesterday at Forest City National.

"You take care of business during the game, but if there's time after and the team is staying over, you go out for dinner. I got to see Drew Larman when we played Rochester. I missed Danny Syvret because he got called up (to Edmonton) right before we played them.

"In Omaha, it's just you and your teammates. Some of the guys are older and married so it's different than junior. The ('05) Knights are a close group and I think we'll always be that way.

"I'm always checking by phone or the Internet to see how the guys are doing."

Larman, Florida's property who played for Rochester's unique blend of Buffalo Sabres and Panthers prospects, joked at a Knights reunion function that Prust didn't use any of those fighting majors on him.

In a twist, Larman ended up on a line in Rochester with big former Ottawa 67's forward Mark Mancari, a London native, and the pair clicked.

"It seemed whenever Mark got a goal, I got an assist and when I scored, he got a point," said Larman, who is working out in London this summer with the likes of Corey Perry, Dylan Hunter and Rob Schremp.

"We had a lot of injuries (including former Knight Chris Taylor's 50-game leg injury), so I ended up playing a lot on the second and third line. We played against (Marc) Methot in Syracuse and Danny Syvret in Hamilton like 10 times," Larman said.

Methot, the strapping defenceman from Ottawa, learned a lot from former Knights coach Gary Agnew with the Syracuse Crunch in the Columbus system. Agnew has been promoted to the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach under Gerard Gallant.

Methot also teamed up now and again with Dan Fritsche, the Blue Jackets' designated frequent callup and send-down guy to circumvent the newly imposed salary cap.

"He (Fritsche) spent most of the year up there but he came back to visit once in a while," Methot said.

Rob Schremp, the reigning OHL scoring champ, had some tales to share after spending his spring with the Stanley Cup finalist Edmonton Oilers. But Schremp and head coach Craig MacTavish, a London son, didn't share Forest City stories.

"He knows the London (connection) but the head coach of an NHL team isn't there to be your best friend," Schremp said. "There's a lot of money at stake and pressure. It's not like going into Dale Hunter's office, sitting on the couch and joking around."

Schremp came close to making the Oilers last season. He wants to stick this season.

"I was dying to play in the Stanley Cup final -- it would've been a dream. It was something seeing the fans out there -- they live and die with the team. But we were spoiled in London. We had great fans here, too."

For a while after the Memorial Cup win, the Knights' money wasn't good in this town. "I went out for dinner at a Jack Astor's with my girlfriend and when we were done, another table had paid for our meal," Prust said. "We were treated very well here. When I think of that Cup, I remember how exciting it was here."

Knights GM Mark Hunter said the tight bond will endure for years. A member of the 1989 Stanley Cup champ Calgary Flames, Hunter went to the 10-year reunion and plans to go to a 20-year party in 2009.

"When you don't win and someone calls you to come, you're not as likely to show up," he said. "But when you accomplish something, you make the effort."


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