Huge Knight for Beaulieu

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

PETERBOROUGH -- Corey Perry. Ron Goodall. Tim Taylor. David Lowry. Dennis Maruk.

Josh Beaulieu?

Add the veteran London tough guy to the exclusive list of Knights who have scored five goals in one game as Beaulieu erupted in a shocking offensive explosion that torched the Peterborough Petes 6-4 before 3,630 last night at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.

"I never had a career hat trick before, so when I got two, I knew I had half a game to get it (the third goal)," the Philadelphia Flyers draft pick said. "That's what I was after . . . Things were going my way. I just felt good and got some good shots away and the puck followed me around."

Once he hit three, he didn't stop. Beaulieu, a six-foot-one, 190-pound Comber native who turns 20 on the same day (Jan. 10) as the OHL trade deadline, doubled his season output in one night

He had five goals in his first 30 games this year and 32 goals in 196 career OHL games with his previous season-high of 15 achieved last year.

"Maybe this is the start of a big streak for him and he goes on to score 20, 25 goals this year," linemate Adam Perry said.

"That was unbelievable."

In his unforgettable performance, Beaulieu scored once in the first period, twice in the second and another two in the third to help erase bad memories from London's four-game sweep in the OHL final at the hands of the Petes last season.

It marked one of the most impressive offensive performances by a visiting player to the 50-year-old PMC.

"For years he protected his teammates and it's nice to see a guy like that get rewarded," Knights head coach Dale Hunter said. "He has a good shot and he got off good shots. Every goal was clean. None of them were cheap and he did it against a goalie (Trevor Cann) who was at Canada's world junior tryout camp."

Beaulieu was on the ice in the final minute trying desperately to score a sixth goal.

"Maybe I was trying too hard," he said with a laugh.

Beaulieu's feat was even more impressive in that he scored on every shot he had a chance to take.

"With our top scorers gone (to the world junior championship), we needed some of our guys to step up and provide some offence and I've been a big part of this team for four years now," he said.

"Lately, we haven't been scoring enough or not playing enough defence so it's nice to have a game like this where we did score a few goals."

David Meckler was the other Knight to contribute a goal and that came on a two-man advantage.

So how did an experienced penalty-killing specialist discover such a hot stick?

Two reasons. The first is extra ice time and power-play opportunities with London's Pat Kane (United States), Sam Gagner (Canada) and Sergei Kostitsyn (Belarus) still in Sweden at the world junior. The second was the OHL debut of Justin Taylor, a London native who assisted on the first four of Beaulieu's tallies. Taylor filled the forward spot left by Switzerland native Adam Hasani, who was dealt to the Erie Otters for a draft pick yesterday.

"He did a great job and I hope he's on my line again (tonight)," Beaulieu said.

Taylor, who was a top-20 scorer in the Ontario Provincial Junior A League with the Wellington Dukes this season, saw significant time on the power play and got his first assist on his second shift of the first period. It simply got better from there in a productive debut.

"I didn't know how much I'd play, but I got the chance early and getting one (assist) early helps get rid of the jitters," the 17-year-old said. "I knew I could play in this league and it was fun to be a part of it (Beaulieu's outburst)."

Taylor played minor midget for the London Junior Knights two years ago, but missed part of the season with mono.

"We really liked him when we saw him and we knew he was a quality player," London head coach Dale Hunter said. "He keeps his head up out there."

Meanwhile, London goalie Steve Mason, who had appeared in both of the Knights' losses in Peterborough last May, stood tall to send the struggling defending OHL champs to a seventh straight loss.

"It was too bad we lost last year -- the final game of the year was when I really first took over as the Knights' No. 1 goalie from Adam Dennis," Mason said. "It was a tough series. The second game we lost in overtime on a very questionable goal (after Mason was run over in the crease)."

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GAME GLANCE

KNIGHTS 6, PETES 4

London goals: Josh Beaulieu (5), David Meckler

Peterborough goals: Zach Bogosian, Tony Rizzi, Justin Caruana, Brett Theberge

Next: The Knights return home to face the Plymouth Whalers tonight at 7:30 at the John Labatt Centre.


Photos