Last season's understudy shines in starring role

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

It's the way a lot of games are going to look this year.

At one end of the rink, the London Knights will be pounding the opposing goalie.

At the other, Steve Mason will be pounded.

Whoever withstands the pounding best will wind up winning.

Last night, it was the Knights goalie who emerged on top, defeating the Saginaw Spirit 6-3 in their OHL openers at the John Labatt Centre in front of the usual 9,090 fans.

They weren't exactly sure what they were going to see considering the Knights took the ice with nary a 50-goal scorer in sight. In fact, there was no 40-goal scorer. No 100-point man, no 90-point man or 80-point man.

But by the time the first period was over, it would have been easy to believe that David Bolland, Rob Schremp and Dylan Hunter had come back in disguise.

Replacing 146 goals scored by those three was supposed to be a daunting task. It's going to fall on the shoulders of young players and players who aren't known for scoring. They have been waiting in the wings to fill those spots on the power play and on those long shifts when a goal is needed.

How did they do when they got their chance to play the main role? Stunningly well.

Check out the line of Sergei Kostitsyn with rookies Pat Kane and Sam Gagner. They throw the puck around like it's on an elastic.

Newly named captain Rob Drummond had a four-point night.

Dave Meckler was a horse. Power forwards of his calibre, don't just drop in your lap, but he did. The former Ivy Leaguer is going to be a big-time addition.

The crowd was pleased, considering they started the night in an ornery mood. Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best brought greetings from the city and was pummeled by boos that were loud and lingering.

The nice stuff on the ice was nice, but it all would have gone for naught if not for Mason.

He had the first of what's going to have to be many big nights.

"We have a young D corps," he said. "The first 10 games are going to be a trying-out period and after that, when we get the butterflies out the first games, we'll get the shot totals down."

For a guy who hasn't played a lot of OHL games, Mason doesn't lack in confidence. He played like he had everything in control last night.

"For a goaltender, confidence is the No. 1 thing," said Mason. "It could be the difference between being a good goalie or a bad goalie. I have a lot of confidence and my teammates agree with me and they gave me lots of support, especially last year."

The Knights have been used to getting clutch goaltending from Adam Dennis. Last night Mason took over that role being especially sharp when the Spirit threatened to get back in the game. He made three big saves with the score 5-3, including a penalty-shot save off Tyler Haskins.

"That was the toughest save of the night," he said. "I made a save on the breakaway and then made another save on the penalty shot. It could have changed the pace of the game."

Mason's confidence matched that of the Knights forwards. Adam Perry, one of the returning forwards, believes they won't be affected by youth and inexperience.

"I don't think there's more pressure on us," said Perry who had a goal. "We expect more of ourselves this year. We got lots of good hockey talent in this dressing room. If we play to our expectations, we should be alright."

If they play offensively like they did last night, they'll be better than alright. They not only moved the puck but they moved their feet and made one of the supposedly best teams in the OHL look as if they were skating in cement.

That said, the Knights might want to consider not giving up 42 shots a game or it might not make much difference how much offense they get.

But hey, you can't have everything.23s morris

It's going to be the way a lot of games are going to look this year.

At one end of the rink, the London Knights will be pounding the opposing goaltender.

At the other, Steve Mason will be pounded.

Whoever withstands the pounding best will wind up winning.

Last night it was the London Knights their goaltender, who emerged on top, defeating the Saginaw Spirit 6-3 in their Ontario Hockey League opener at the John Labatt Centre in front of the usual 9,090 patrons.

Those patrons weren't exactly sure what they were going to see considering the Knights took the ice with nary a 50-goal scorer in sight.

In fact there was no forty-goal scorer. No hundred-point man, no 90-point man or 80-point man.

But by the time the first period was over, it would have been easy to believe that David Bolland, Rob Schremp and Dylan Hunter had come back in disguise.

Replacing 146 goals scored by those three was supposed to be a daunting task.

It's going to fall on the shoulders of young players and players who aren't known for their scoring. They also happen to be the players who have been waiting in the wings to fill those spots on the powerplay and on those long shifts when a goal is needed.

How did they do when they got their chance to play the main role?

Stunningly well.

Check out the line of Sergei Kostitsyn with rookies Pat Kane and Sam Gagner. They throw the puck around like it's on an elastic.

Newly-named captain Rob Drummond had a four-point night.

Dave Meckler was a horse. Power forwards of his calibre, don't just drop in your lap but he did. The Yalie from the Ivy League is going to be a big-time addition.

The crowd was well-pleased considering they started the night in an ornery mood. Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best brought greetings from the city and was pummeled by boos which were loud and lingering.

So the nice stuff on the ice was nice but it would have gone for naught if not for Mason.

He had the first of what's going to have to be, many big nights.

"We have a young D corps," said Mason. "he first 10 games are going to be a trying-out period and after that when we get the butterflies out the first games, we'll get the shot totals down."

For a guy who hasn't played a lot of OHL games, Mason doesn't lack in confidence. He played like he had everything in control last night.

"For a goaltender, confidence is the No. 1 thing," said Mason. "It could be the difference between being a good goalie or a bad goalie. I have a lot of confidence and my teammates agree with me and they gave me lots of support, especially last year."

The Knights have been used to getting clutch goaltending from Adam Dennis. Last night Mason took over that role being especially sharp when the Spirit threatened to get back in the game. He made three big saves with the score 5-3, including a penalty-shot save off Tyler Haskins.

"That was the toughest save of the night," he said. "I made a save on the breakaway and then made another save on the penalty shot. It could have changed the pace of the game."

Mason's confidence matched that of the Knights forwards. Adam Perry, one of the returning forwards, believes they won't be affected by youth and inexperience.

"I don't think there's more pressure on us," said Perry who had a goal. "We expect more of ourselves this year. We got lots of good hockey talent in this dressing room. If we play to our expectations, we should be alright."

If they play offensively like they did last night, they'll be better than alright. They not only moved the puck but they moved their feet and made one of the supposedly best teams in the OHL look as if they were skating in cement.

That said, the Knights might want to consider not giving up 42 shots a game or it might not make much difference how much offense they get.

But hey, you can't have everything.


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