Knights nipped in shootout

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

It was a thrilling end to a less-than-thrilling game.

The Sudbury Wolves ended the London Knights three-game winning streak, coming into the John Labatt Centre and skating out with a 3-2 shootout win in front of a less-than-capacity crowd of 9,040.

The win evened the Wolves record at 3-3, while the Knights dropped to 3-1, though they gained a point.

The teams packed most of the action and strange doings into the final 15 minutes.

Among the wondrous and wicked moments was as great a goal as you'll see anywhere by Sam Gagner of the Knights.

Then there was the Wolves' tying goal deflected in by London's Rob Drummond.

There was a delay of game penalty on the Knights because Steve Mason took too long to fix his equipment and backup Stephane Cesar didn't got into the net fast enough.

And earlier in the third period, Jordan Foreman of the Knights, playing his first game after a broken foot, went into the Wolves bench to get after Nicholas Foligno.

"We were all over them in the first two periods, but just couldn't score," Knights defenceman Todd Perry said. "They got a couple of lucky goals and we took a lot of penalties and we just couldn't get anything going after that."

First, the good stuff.

The Wolves won this game because goaltender Kevin Beech was outstanding. He made 36 saves, including stopping Gagner and Pat Kane in the shootout.

Kevin Baker and Foligno scored for the Wolves after Patrik Lusnak was stopped.

The highlight of the night, though, had to be Gagner's third-period goal.

With the score 1-1 five minutes in, Gagner took the puck at his blue-line. He got up a head of steam and skated right at Wolves defenceman Jonathan D'Aversa. Gagner brought the puck behind his back, flipped it back through his legs and left D'Aversa standing as he blew by before depositing the puck into the top corner of the net.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation, which only got louder as they watched it again and again on the videoboard.

"I've tried it a couple of times in practice," Gagner said. "I've tried it in a game, but it hasn't worked before. It's a good move because you protect the puck. (D'Aversa) was a little flat-footed and I thought it was a good time to try it."

Gagner was subdued after the game after missing in the shootout.

Now for the weird stuff.

After the Gagner goal, the game seemed to go from 0 to 60. Referee Marty Kirwan, who had been quiet all night, sent a steady stream of players to the penalty box.

Foreman, his usual pesky self, took exception to a slash by Foligno near the Sudbury bench. Before anyone knew what had happened, Foreman went after Foligno and began throwing punches in the Sudbury bench. It earned him a minor, major, misconduct and game misconduct.

With Foreman in the box, a strap broke on Mason's pad. He skated to the bench to repair it.

"The referee told me to hurry up," Knights coach Dale Hunter said. "He then told me to put in the backup. I told him to take his time and get ready and (Kirwan) gave us a two-minute penalty for taking to long.

"Bizarre."

With the Knights shorthanded, Drummond tried to stop a D'Aversa shot that went off his stick into the net.

"That's why I'm a fan of the two-referee system," Hunter said. "It's impossible for a referee to see everything. There was almost no power plays in the first two periods, but there was a lot of clutching and grabbing."

Until the the third period, the Knights were pretty much in control of the game. They took the lead on a Ryan Martinelli goal in the second period and the Wolves tied it on a goal by J.K. Gill. It was really the only good chance the Wolves had during the first two periods.

Their goal of cutting down scoring chances was accomplished.

"We played well defensively and I thought we played better than they did," said Perry. "It's too bad we didn't get any breaks."

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GAME GLANCE

Wolves 3, Knights 2

Sudbury wins shootout 2-0

Sudbury scorers: J.K. Gill, Jonathan D'Aversa

London scorers: Ryan Martinelli, Sam Gagner

Next: The Ottawa 67's are at the John Labatt Centre tomorrow at 2 p.m.


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