Knights overcome Storm

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

It was the type of game the London Knights were thrilled to win.

Everyone knows the Knights can win the high-scoring, wide-open games.

But last night's 3-1 Ontario Hockey League win over the Guelph Storm at the John Labatt Centre is the type of game the Knights have to learn to win if they want to be successful later on in the OHL season.

It was a playoff-like affair, low scoring and tight.

It took a goal by Sergei Kostitsyn with a little more than two minutes left in the game to break a 1-1 tie and give the Knights command.

It was easy to see why the Storm don't give up a lot of goals or chances. They play a tight, disciplined defensive game. They don't score a lot of goals either but they won't be pressured into playing a run-and-gun game.

It doesn't make for exciting hockey, but it's effective. The Storm play it close to the vest and wait until a good opportunity pops up.

It isn't the Knights cup of tea, but they managed to keep their cool until Kostitsyn came to the rescue.

Kostitsyn's play of late is also good news for the Knights.

He is starting to find his stride after a slow early season start after coming back from the Montreal Canadiens training camp.

"After Montreal, I was not comfortable. I don't know why," he said. "Now I feel a little bit better. The last four, five games, I've been playing better."

Kostitsyn has started to click with Sam Gagner and Pat Kane especially on the power play.

"This year is like last year," said Kostitsyn. "We have lots of good players."

Those good players are getting a read on each other.

On the winner Kostitsyn, who along with Kane, was one of the most dangerous players on the night, got the puck in the corner and managed to get it in front of the net to Gagner. Gagner looked like he had eyes in the back of his head as he fired a pass to Kostitsyn who had continued around the net. With Storm netminder Thomas McCollum on the ice, Kostitsyn fired the puck high into the net.

"He made a great pass in front and I knew he would go around the net," said Gagner. "I saw him out of the corner of the my eye and just gave him the puck."

David Meckler sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.

If Kane, Gagner and Kostitsyn continue to grow together, the Knights power play will only get better. That's a scary thought for the opposition.

"I'll be honest, when I first came here and Sergei came back, communication was tough," said Kane. "But now that we've got to know each other off the ice and become buddies and we joke around, it's really helped on the ice."

The Knights will pick up a great deal on the learning curve from games like this against Guelph. The Storm are aggressive killing penalties and don't get caught out of position very much.

"They really pressure you," said Gagner. "You have to make sure you move the puck and move your feet. We got in trouble when we stopped moving our feet."

The Storm scored their only goal by being opportunistic.

In the second period, Knights goaltender Steve Mason tried to fire a puck out from behind his net but he got it too close to the Storm's Matt Kennedy. Kennedy knocked the puck down with his foot and directed it in front of an empty net for Grant McGee to tip in.

It didn't look like the Knights would get much of anything done until the Storm ran into some penalty problems. They took a pair of penalties near the midway mark of the second period.

Kane scored on the power play when he moved in off the right point and wired a wrist shot to the top of the net past McCollum. It was the eighth goal in succession that Kane has been involved in.

The Knights played last night without defenceman Todd Perry. He sat out an automatic one-game suspension for a match penalty he was given for kneeing Kitchener Rangers Kevin Henderson Friday night. Also out of the lineup was Jordan Foreman with a concussion.

The Knights also lost forward Matt Clarke in the second period. He threw a check at a Storm forward and left the game holding his arm.

GAME GLANCE

London 3, Guelph 1

London goals: Pat Kane, Sergei Kostitsyn, David Meckler.

Guelph goal: Grant McGee

Next: Rematch, today 3 p.m. at Guelph.


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