Goalie hits could stir up game at JLC

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Even though he likely won't be at the John Labatt Centre tomorrow night, Steve Mason will cast an imposing shadow over the game.

Mason, the London Knights goaltender who is in Calgary for Canada's world junior team selection camp, hasn't skated with his new teammates as everyone waits for his concussion-like symptoms to clear up.

As coincidence would have it, the Knights' opponents tomorrow night will be the Windsor Spitfires. It was last Saturday night in Windsor that Mason was playing his last game before heading to Calgary.

Early in the third period, the Spitfires' Cory McGillis headed to the net and wound up running into Mason. The goalie went down and had to be helped off the ice. He's still suffering the effects of the collision.

McGillis earned a two-minute goalie interference penalty. Later in the period, Brad Snetsinger took a goalie interference penalty for running into backup netminder Stephane Cesar, who had taken over for Mason.

That's the type of thing that usually festers as teams prepare to meet again.

The Spitfire franchise has struggled over the years. But last May it was purchased in part by Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel. There is hope on the horizon. Boughner as coach and Rychel as general manager have given this team some attitude.

Boughner doesn't expect any repercussion from the incident.

"I have no expectations," he said. "We're going in there to try and get two points. I really think it was overblown. I've watched it 20 times. Our player actually scored on the play. The puck was right there. He went in after it and the goal was disallowed. I don't know why. It's a hockey play. It happens every game."

Boughner said he suspects the injury didn't even happen on that play.

"I think the injury happened on the first goal of the game," Boughner said. "Cory McGillis was forced into the goal by (Todd) Perry, I think, and (trainer Don Brankley) had to come out to see how (Mason) was. That's when it all happened. I think the other collision might have had something to do with it.

"But it wasn't as if there wasn't anything going on and he just took a run at the goalie. On the contrary."

Knights coach Dale Hunter wasn't saying much about what direction the game might take. He did say, though, that the Spitfires were making regular visits inside the crease.

"They were in the crease all night," Hunter said. "It's a good play. You throw the puck at the net, go across the crease and jam the goalie. It's hard on the goalie, though."

What about tomorrow night?

"It's just another game," Hunter said. "We'll go out and play hockey."

The game might be a focal point for another reason. While the Spitfires are trying to improve, making the playoffs is a long shot. They have some older players who might be of interest to other Ontario Hockey League teams that believe they can take a run at a championship.

"Our goal is still to make the playoffs, but the playoffs would be a bonus for us this year," Boughner said. "The phone lines have been real busy. We understand the situation. We're going to do what's right for our hockey club."

The player most teams would like, including the Knights, is defenceman Mike Weber. Weber is a top defensive defenceman. He turns 19 in two days.

"There's significant interest in Mike Weber. I'd like to give you a list like Christmas in who's interested, but I can't," Rychel said. "All the contenders in the Western Conference have called. This will be hard because Mike Weber is a team leader. He's a Windsor Spitfire true and blue.

"There will be a deal done."

Tomorrow night will be a good opportunity to see firsthand what Weber can bring to the table.

The Knights have just added defenceman Kevin Montgomery to their blue-line. The former Ohio State Buckeye will play his first game tomorrow night. "It's going to take a little while for him to get adjusted but he's going to be a good player for us," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said.


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