No one expected Sam Gagner and Pat Kane to waltz in and instantly replace high-scoring London Knights forwards David Bolland and Rob Schremp.
The new twosome isn't at that production level yet, but they're close.
The OHL-leading Gagner-Kane combo has racked up 23 goals and 75 points through the first quarter, while the veteran Schremp-Bolland buzz-saw cut through the opposition for 43 goals and 110 points in their first 17 games last year.
"Our job was to come in here and score and we've been fortunate to form some chemistry and get the ice time to put up some numbers," Gagner said. "Not really (do they tease each other about being one-two in league scoring). We're just trying to do the best we can and we know if we're scoring, it helps the team win."
Both know what kind of ice act they're following.
Kane, a 17-year-old Buffalo native, kept an eye on Schremp's career and remembers watching him play when he was a kid growing up in New York state.
Gagner was 12 when he watched Bolland play for the Toronto Red Wings in the OHL Cup tournament at Brantford.
"Oakville had a great team -- they had the Donatis (current OHLers Justin and Tyler) and one of my friend's brothers was on that team," Gagner said, "so I went to watch them play against Toronto and that's the first I saw of David Bolland."
Who knew back then that Gagner and Kane would end up in London, filling the holes left by the stars they watched play half a decade ago?
"Definitely, there's a comparison -- all of them are highly skilled players," said defenceman Todd Perry, who plays with Kane and Gagner after skating against Schremp and Bolland the last few years. "You can tell these two guys have a bright future."
With London playing Mississauga tonight at the Hershey Centre, even Gagner's pal on the IceDogs is shocked at the depth of his effectiveness. Londoner and IceDogs second-year forward Jordan Skellett played with Gagner on an all-star team that went to Russia five years ago and their families remain close friends.
"I knew he was a good player, but he's already leading the OHL in scoring and he's only 17," the former London Jr. Knights star said. "It's surprising, but (Dale) Hunter's coaching style fits the way he plays perfectly. His dad (ex-NHLer Dave Gagner) is an assistant coach there and that doesn't hurt him, either."
Under new coach Mike Kelly, Mississauga has performed at a higher level than expected for a lame-duck team destined to be sold and moved soon to make room for current owner Eugene Melnyk's Toronto St. Michael's Majors.
"We're not a team with a bunch of stars -- we have four good lines that work hard," Skellett said. "We don't think about where we're going because we can't control that and we're focusing on this season. We have no idea (where the IceDogs are headed). Buffalo is the one we hear the most. The gut feeling is we're going to end up somewhere in the (United) States."
Skellett, 16, has three points in 14 games.
Tonight: at Mississauga, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: vs. Oshawa, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.
A look at the early production of the London Knights' top two scorers last season -- Rob Schremp and David Bolland -- and this season -- Sam Gagner and Pat Kane:
GAGNER 15 games 9 goals 38 points
KANE 17 games 14 goals 37 points
SCHREMP 17 games 22 goals 58 points
BOLLAND 17 games 21 goals 52 points