Knights storm back for victory

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

No, the London Knights and Guelph Storm didn't play a doubleheader last night.

But one could be forgiven for thinking they did.

After all, it usually takes four games between the two to produce 13 goals.

But then last night was not usual.

In an entertaining, free-flowing, unpredictable and fun Ontario Hockey League game to watch, the Knights defeated the Storm 7-6 at the John Labatt Centre.

Form went out the window.

The Storm are second only to the Kitchener Rangers as the teams to give up the least goals. The Storm are built around a strong defence led by Canadian junior team member Ryan Parent and top prospect Drew Doughty.

Goaltender Thomas McCollum, a 17-year-old Buffalo native, is first in goal-against average at 2.13 and second in save percentage.

The Storm hadn't lost in regulation time since a Dec. 28 loss to Oshawa. Since then, they've counted at least one point in 13 games, including nine wins, one overtime loss and three shootout losses.

So when the Storm go up by three goals like they did in the second period, it's usually turn out the lights, the party's over time.

Usually.

By the time the second period was over, eight more goals had been scored, five by the Knights. London goalie Steve Mason had been pulled for Stephane Cesar and then put back in late in the period. The period ended 6-6 .

"They're a very skilled hockey club and we stopped working defensively in the second period," said Storm coach Dave Barr. "We don't work, especially against a team that can score goals, you see the end result. London came out with a lot of energy in the second and we thought we were good."

The Storm don't usually fall apart that way.

"We stopped skating and stopped working. Hopefully, that will be a lesson to us," Barr said.

They don't give up a lot of chances and when they do, McCollum has been there to provide the goaltending that wins games.

The JLC hasn't been a nice place for the normally unflappable netminder. He was pulled the last time the Storm where in when he gave up three goals in 15 minutes.

He was pulled after Rob Drummond scored the eventual winner last night, early in the third period on a shot from just inside the blue-line.

"In all the games he's played for us, he hasn't been sharp in about three of them and two of them have been here," Barr said. "I think it's a coincidence because he handles pressure very well."

As for the Knights, Sergei Kostitsyn led the charge back with a goal and five assists. The slick Belarussian had an answer as to why the game changed so quickly.

"We just have to keep shooting. We had to get more shots," he said.

That, too, was somewhat unusual on this night. The Storm outshot the Knights 24-6 in the first period and the Knights outshot the Storm 26-4 in the second.

Guelph outshot London 13-7 in the third. The final shots favoured Guelph 41-39.

"Several veterans stepped up between the first and second period and talked about our play," Drummond said.

"We weren't ready in the first period," Kostitsyn said. "We skated harder in the second."

Which was when Kostitsyn came alive. He wanted the puck whenever he was on the ice.

"I want the puck every night," he said. "I need my own puck."

Guelph-London games are always highly anticipated. There are a number of local players plying their trade for the Storm.

What made last night's game even more interesting was the return of Corey Syvret, the Knights first-round draft pick two years ago.

Syvret was traded to the Storm at the trade deadline and played a regular shift with another former Knight, Ryan Potruff.

"I'm not scared or nervous. I'm just excited to play," Syvret said. "I don't think I have anything to prove. I'm just here to play and help the Guelph Storm get their two points."

Syvret got into the goalfest, floating a wrist shot from the point that found its way into the net for the Storm's third goal. It was his first goal of the season.


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