Penalty shot miss sparks Knights

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

Normally a missed penalty shot pumps up the team whose goaltender makes the save.

The London Knights didn't let that happen.

Shortly after defenceman-turned-forward Andrew Wilkins was stuffed by Toronto goalie Wayne Savage on a third-period penalty shot, the Knights struck for three goals in 4 1/2 minutes for a 4-1 victory over the Majors before 1,022 yesterday at the St. Michael's College Arena.

David Meckler, a powerful forward who thrived in the cozy confines of the St. Mike's rink, scored the winner and insurance marker -- his seventh two-goal game this season -- and captain Robbie Drummond completed the blitz to deny hard-luck St. Thomas native Savage his first win against the team he grew up admiring.

"Wilkie worked hard to create that scoring chance and he didn't score on the penalty shot but we fed off what he did there," Meckler said.

"Right after that (34 seconds later) we scored and then on the second one, Sam (Gagner) made a nice pass but it was just behind me and hit my skate and went in," Meckler added.

Wilkins, who the Knights have been calling "Dougie G" as in Doug Gilmour lately, didn't know what surprised him more -- the penalty shot or playing on a forward line for the first time with high-scoring Sam Gagner and Pat Kane.

"We were playing ping-pong (Saturday) and Dale Hunter came in and told me I was playing with (Gagner) and (Kane) the next game," the 18-year-old Pickering native said. "I thought he was joking so I had to go back and have them tell me again. The penalty shot -- I don't take too many except in practice and I don't score there, either. I was shaking a little bit. I'm just happy we came back and got those goals at the end."

Kane celebrated his 18th birthday yesterday with his 19th goal in his 22nd OHL game and added two assists to keep pace in the league scoring race with linemate Gagner and Barrie's Bryan Little.

Toronto appeared to score in the first period when a howitzer beat London goalie Steve Mason, but it hit iron and quickly rocketed out. Referee Brent Holdsworth called upstairs to check with the video official to confirm a no-goal ruling.

"That was a lucky break because I didn't see it and it got behind me," said Mason, who made a half-dozen brilliant saves to deny the Majors more than a goal.

After surrendering all the goals in a 14-6 loss to London last year, Savage couldn't help but feel he's a little bit snakebit against the Knights.

"I can't beat these guys," he said with a laugh. "Give them credit, they came back right away after the penalty shot. The second one (of Meckler's two goals) was the momentum-shifter. It bounced off his (Meckler's) skate and it's tougher to come back from two goals down that late.

"I guess I have one more chance against these guys (on Jan. 26)"

It could've been London's final visit to the historic, but cramped, arena because the Eugene Melnyk-owned Majors are set to move into Mississauga's Hershey Centre if the pharmaceuticals tycoon is able to sell the IceDogs soon and move them out of the Toronto area. If a deal isn't fostered in time, then the contingency plan is for the Majors to remain at the College next year, too.

Mason, Gagner to play Russians

Mason and Gagner will play for Canada in the OHL portion of the Canada-Russia series in Sarnia Thursday. Mason, who will also be at the second game next Monday in Oshawa, is expecting to start in Sarnia and back up Petes goalie Trevor Cann.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 4, Majors 1

London goals: David Meckler (2), Pat Kane, Robbie Drummond

Toronto goal: Matt Caria

Next: London heads to Sarnia Wednesday to face the Sting at 7:35 p.m. before returning home to face the Saginaw Spirit on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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