Montgomery eyes fresh start with Knights

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Pat Kane is the OHL's leading scorer, but his biggest assist this season could be helping lure old pal Kevin Montgomery to the London Knights.

Montgomery, an 18-year-old defenceman from Rochester, N.Y., whose offensive skills remind some of Danny Syvret, joined his new teammates yesterday after bolting from Ohio State halfway into the U.S. college hockey season.

"It's a nice start to come in at this point of the season and the team's in first place," said Montgomery, a fourth-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche. "I'm happy to be here. Pat told me good things about London, and Mark (London GM Mark Hunter) stayed in contact with me since the Knights drafted me (in the fifth round in 2004).

"It was a tough decision in the summer (between London and OSU) and I weighed everything before going to school. But it didn't work out and I'm ready for a fresh start here."

Kane, now bound for the world junior tournament, played with Montgomery, who took part in the U.S. team's preseason evaluation camp, the past two years at the U.S. development program in Ann Arbor, Mich. The pair also won a New York state bantam championship with the Buffalo Saints in 2003.

"I know a lot of people thought if I came to London, he'd come or if he came, I'd be here, too, but he wanted to test the waters first and go to Ohio State," Kane said. "I never closed the door on him coming to London. All I did was keep telling him how much fun it is to play here.

"It's great to have him because he's a very good defenceman and he's going to help us. It's good for him I'm here because it's always better to come to a new team when you know someone in the dressing room."

London GM Mark Hunter maintained contact with Montgomery's father Dave and got the feeling a month ago Kevin was ready to surrender his scholarship and test his skills with more games in the OHL. The signing gives London six U.S. players and should provide the Knights with a permanent point fixture on the power play.

"You always want to use a defenceman on the power play in case they (the opposition) come back on you, but when we used five forwards, it was because we didn't have an experienced player back there to do it," London head coach Dale Hunter said. "When Dennis Wideman was here, he played two full minutes on the power play."

Montgomery also helps solidify the Knights' top four defenders and his puck-handling ability should help reduce the number of giveaways and shots the team surrenders.

"I consider myself a two-way defenceman -- someone who is responsible in his own end, but who can jump up in the play when there's an opportunity," Montgomery said.

One thing he won't get here is the No. 55 he wore at Ohio State. London assistant captain and Yale University transfer David Meckler said while the team is excited to have the new rearguard, he isn't about to surrender "the double-nickel."

"I'm good with (No.) 23," Montgomery said with a grin. "I'm just hoping to come in and prove myself. I visited here during the playoffs in the Memorial Cup year, but I haven't been here since then."

KEVIN MONTGOMERY

Position: Defence

Born: April 4, 1988

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.

NHL status: Fourth-round pick (107th overall) by Colorado Avalanche in 2006

Height: Six-foot-one; Weight: 185 pounds

Hockey history: Played fall semester with Ohio State University Buckeyes . . . Spent two seasons with the U.S. national team development program in Ann Arbor, Mich. . . . Played on gold medal-winning U.S. team at the world under-18 championships in Sweden . . . Invited to 2006 U.S. national junior evaluation camp.


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