Knights come up empty

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

If this is what London Knights hockey is like without Scott Aarssen and Jordan Foreman, then those guys had better be quick healers.

With the league's best power play a feeble 0-for-6, few scoring chances and just 23 shots, the suddenly offensively challenged Knights failed to flick on the red light in falling 3-0 to goalie John Murray and the red-hot Kitchener Rangers before a less-than-capacity crowd of 9,074 last night at the John Labatt Centre.

It's the first time London has been shut out this season, the first time the Knights have lost two in a row this year and their first goose egg since Plymouth's combined effort from Justin Peters and Justin Garay in February.

"It's part frustrating and part embarrassing to be shut out with the kind of scorers we have here," London forward David Meckler said. "We were sound asleep at the start and they (the Rangers) came out and took it to us. We didn't want to work hard. When you're not scoring, we had guys trying to do it ourselves and none of us are that good.

"The positive thing is we have two more games this weekend and if we play out of our minds, we'll forget all about this one."

London's leading scorers, Sam Gagner and Pat Kane, were foiled on a gorgeous third-period effort by Murray and failed to register a point for just the second time this season when both were in the lineup.

The other time? A 4-1 loss to the same Murray and his Rangers, who have won 10 of their past 11 games and seven in a row on the road.

"We're just a hard-working team and when you keep a team like London from scoring on the powerplay, you have a good chance," Kitchener winger Mike Duco said. "Foreman's not out there running our defencemen and stirring up things so I guess they miss him."

London, who was kept in the game by goalie Steve Mason, had off-season interest in Murray, a 19-year-old Lancaster, Pa., native, who played for Sioux Falls (S.D.) in the United States Hockey League last year and wanted to play more than the 18 games he was promised by the University of Maine.

"Mark (London GM Mark Hunter) called me once but it was pretty much already done (with Kitchener)," Murray said. "My agent made some calls and Kitchener was interested. Everyone thought (the Rangers) would be rebuilding this year except my agent and Pete (Rangers head coach Peter DeBoer)."

London remains the only team to beat Kitchener in nearly a month with a 4-2 win at the Aud on Nov. 3. But the Knights resembled little of that team and it's become worrisome with their top defenceman (Aarssen) and best sparkplug (Foreman) out for a month.

"It's frustrating because we're used to scoring," Knights defenceman Ryan Martinelli said. "Our power play had a tough game but we're not blaming the forwards. We just didn't play hard the first two periods and when we got it going in the third, Murray made some saves."

Kitchener sniper Matt Halischuk, who is quickly becoming Mason's kryptonite, scored in the first period to give him seven goals -- plus a shootout tally -- in four games against the Knights' starting netminder this season. The 18-year-old forward, who entered last night as the OHL leader in goals, has scored in each of his last eight games.

Short on the blue line after Aarssen went down with a shoulder injury, London signed 16-year-old defenceman Matthew Ashman, an eighth-round pick of the Knights in last summer's entry draft. The former London Junior Knight has been playing Junior A hockey with Collingwood and is expected to arrive today.

London also recalled defenceman Corbin Crawford and forward Glen McCarron from the London Nationals. McCarron, an 18-year-old Londoner who has nine goals and 16 points in the Western Ontario Hockey League, attended Knights training camp this fall and made his OHL debut last night.

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GAME GLANCE

RANGERS 3, KNIGHTS 0

Kitchener goals: Jakub Kindl, Matt Halischuk, Justin Azevedo

Kitchener shutout: John Murray

Next: The Knights play Erie tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre, then head to Toronto on Sunday to play the St. Michael's Majors at 2 p.m.


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