The Owen South Attack looked liked a team that could win a championship.
The London Knights looked like a team that was due for a less-than-impressive effort.
When you combine the two, the result was predictable.
The Attack handed the Knights their first loss in regulation time this season, winning 5-2 last night at the John Labatt Centre in front of an announced crowd of 9,090.
The Attack had all the parts working. Forward Bobby Ryan, who has struggled since coming back from the Anaheim Ducks, looked the big-time player the Attack need to win the OHL crown.
They may also have answered the question of who is good enough in goal to backstop them to a championship.
The duo of Russ Brownell and Neil Conway weren't making the Attack's chimes ring. So they brought in over-ager Scott Bowles, released by the WHL's Prince George Cougars. The Attack picked him up for the $1,000 CHL waiver fee.
He made 39 saves, several at key times.
"It goes beyond goaltending," Attack coach Mike Stothers said. "It was a team performance. All 20 guys dressed tonight."
That may be, but without Bowles, they might have been dressed up with no place to go.
Bowles spent four seasons in the WHL with Calgary and Prince George. He has a 48-60-6-2 record and 2.77 goals-against average. Last year, he was 26-16-2-2 with a 2.40 average and .915 save percentage.
"Over-age spots are hard to come by in the West and they wanted to go in another direction," Bowles said of the Cougars. "I had talks with other teams, but Owen Sound has a chance to win a championship and that played a part in my deciding to come here."
It didn't look as if it would be a happy audition for Bowles. Midway through the first period, the Knights led 2-0 on goals by Adam Perry and Josh Beaulieu. Bobby Sanguinetti, Josh Bailey, Anton Hedman and Ryan gave the Attack a 4-2 lead going into the third period and Marcus Carroll added an empty-netter.
Bowles didn't have to be spectacular, but he was solid. Early in the second period, he was run over by Beaulieu, who got a roughing penalty. But that didn't rattle Bowles.
His best saves came early in the third. With the Knights on a power play, Sergei Kostitsyn found himself alone in front of the net. He fired a wrist shot Bowles blocked with his catching glove. Kostitsyn then came back in front and Bowles made a pad save.
If the Attack continue to get that kind of goaltending, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Bowles doesn't think changing leagues is a big deal.
"Hockey's hockey," he said. "When I look at the game, the puck's the same size and they haven't moved the nets on me to the corner, so I should be all right."
As for the Knights, forward David Meckler summed up their effort perfectly.
"(Owen Sound) is a good team. Give them credit. But we didn't show up to play. We didn't have the same spark we normally have. We didn't have our same energy."
The Attack also shut down the Knights power play, giving up just one goal on eight London opportunities.
"It looked like they knew what we were going to do," Meckler said. "But that's no excuse.
"We need to know how to adjust."
It was obvious how much these two teams dislike each other. There were several skirmishes and the penalties were for nasty infractions.
The Attack had a scary moment when Sanguinetti left for a five-minute stint in the second period after getting hit by Scott Aarssen.
Sanguinetti went off doubled-over, but did return.
Attack 5, Knights 2
Owen Sound goals: Bobby Sanguinetti, Josh Bailey, Anton Hedman, Bobby Ryan, Marcus Carroll
London goals: Adam Perry, Josh Beaulieu
Next: The Knights are in Brampton tomorrow at 2 p.m.