Cesar shows mettle in net

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

GUELPH -- Stephane Cesar waited patiently for a month-and-a-half before receiving his first OHL start with the London Knights.

So it's rather fitting he had to wait a bit longer through three periods, overtime, a shootout -- and even a video review on the final shooter -- before being rewarded with his first victory in a 4-3 win over the Guelph Storm before 4,541 yesterday afternoon at the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre.

With Steve Mason serving as backup and resting after starting London's first 16 games, the lanky 18-year-old Cesar kicked aside 28 Guelph shots and then turned aside two of three Storm shooters as the Knights won the shootout 2-1. His elation was delayed as his goal-line pad save on Guelph shooter Tim Priamo went upstairs for a second look before being confirmed.

"I knew I stopped it," the six-foot-three, 175-pound Gatineau, Que., native said. "I like shootouts -- I feel I'm pretty strong at them in practice. I was excited to start because I wanted to prove I could play with the London Knights."

Cesar, who was property of Rouyn-Noranda in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year, went to training camp this fall and landed in Cornwall after the Huskies opted to send him down. He heard of London's interest and signed as a free agent, knowing Mason would get the bulk of the starts but hoping for a couple of games along the way.

"I've had the chance to practise (in London) and play some games in Petrolia (with the Jets of the Western Ontario Hockey League)," Cesar said. "I played (Saturday night) with Petrolia. We lost 6-4."

Though London tried to play a tight, defensive road game against a Guelph team not known for offensive prowess, Cesar still had to bail out the Knights on a couple of occasions. He stopped Guelph's Mike McLean on a short-handed two-one-one, robbed Storm forward Jamie Arniel on a short-handed breakaway and made a diving glove save that earmarked the game for overtime.

"That was the best one," he said with a grin.

Still, Guelph beat Cesar twice in the third period and McLean was in line to be the hero when he scored with 3:52 left in the third period to give the Storm a 3-2 lead.

But London defenceman Ryan Martinelli, who broke Guelph's heart with a rare buzzer-beating playoff goal last spring in the Western Conference final, sent the game to overtime by jumping into the offensive zone and banging home a long rebound.

"Dale (London head coach Dale Hunter) reminded me of the goal I scored here last year -- he said this must be my barn," Martinelli said.

"I don't know who shot it," Martinelli said. "I just went for the puck and tried to get it on net, and fortunately, it went in."

In the shootout, Pat Kane and Sam Gagner beat Guelph goalie Thomas McCollum with their trademark dekes while Cesar forced McLean to shoot high and stuck out a quick pad to stymie Priamo.

"I didn't see the puck because his pad was in the way but I thought it went over the line," Priamo said. "I don't know what they saw upstairs. I probably would've tried something different if I did it again."

Guelph, which has dropped four straight, lost star defenceman Ryan Parent when he hurt himself trying to check Adam Perry in the third period.

The Storm opened the scoring in the second period as London surrendered its first power-play goal after a streak of 33 straight penalty kills. The Knights, who got two consecutive power-play goals from Adam Perry, escaped a further five-on-three jam after the Storm swarmed the Knights net when returning forward Jordan Foreman broke his stick during a frantic kill.

"The puck hit my stick and that's what broke it," said Foreman, who was cleared to play late Saturday night after suffering a concussion last Saturday in Barrie. "I leaned on it to see if it was still good and it cracked. It was pretty tense there for 30 seconds but we got by it and Stephane made some big saves when we needed them most in the third period."

London, which beat Guelph 3-1 on Saturday night at the John Labatt Centre and topped Kitchener 4-2, couldn't be more pleased with winning three games in three days against divisional opponents.

"Anytime you win three in three, that's a big thing," Foreman said. "It could be the glue that brings us together for the rest of the year."

London defenceman Todd Perry was also in the lineup after missing Saturday night's game with a match penalty for kneeing Kitchener's Kevin Henderson. The league will still review the play early this week.

London forward Matt Clarke and David Jarram were scratches for the Knights yesterday.

Clarke left Saturday's game in London favouring his arm and didn't make the trip yesterday.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 4, Storm 3 (SO)

(London wins shootout 2-1)

London goals: Adam Perry (2), Ryan Martinelli

Guelph goals: Matt Kennedy, Tim Priamo, Mike McLean

Next: The Knights head to Mississauga Wednesday to play the IceDogs at the Hershey Centre at 7:05 p.m. before coming home to face John Tavares and the Oshawa Generals Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


Videos

Photos