Knights willing to pay price

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

You'll get a lot of answers when you ask why the London Knights continue to win.

You'll hear about Sam Gagner, Pat Kane and Sergei Kostitsyn.

You'll hear all about what a clutch goaltender Steve Mason is.

You'll get the story about great coaching and great scouting.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes again.

But there's one thing this team never gets enough credit for and it's as big a reason why they win as any of the above.

It has nothing to do with skill. It has to do with guts and determination. It has to do with a willingness to pay a price to win.

The Knights defeated the Owen Sound Attack 6-3 last night at the John Labatt Centre to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Ontario Hockey League best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.

They showed a willingness to pay that price. It's not just physical. It's emotional. it's a driving force that says despite being down 2-0 and 3-1, you continue to go to the net, continue to work the corners, continue to show up in tough situations because good things will eventually happen.

The Attack have outshot the Knights and had more chances to score than the Knights. They think they've done everything they need to do to win except win.

But there's something missing from the Attack. It may be jump or emotion, or the belief they can win but there is something missing from a team that underachieved all season.

Knights' Dave Meckler talked about what the forwards needed to do to help out an overworked defence and and goaltender.

"As forwards, we have to come back harder and block more shots. Too many shots are getting through," said Meckler.

Early in the first period, the puck went back to the blue-line and Bob Sanguinetti fired a slapshot at the net. Meckler dove in front of it and it slammed into his arm. He got up and skated off the ice. You know it had to have hurt.

Saturday in Owen Sound, Andrew Wilkins did the same thing. The puck slammed into his stomach. He skated off clutching the spot.

Last night there was rarely a shot from the point that wasn't challenged.

"This is the playoffs," said Meckler. "You do what you have to do and this team is willing to pay a price. You dive in front of shots, you risk your life, no worries. It shows that you are willing to pay the price to win.

"What you do may not show up on the scoresheet but it may change the momentum of a game. It's what you do to win championships."

The Knights are bruised and battered.

Jordan Foreman is hobbled with foot woes. In the second period last night, he stood in front of a slapshot and the puck rang off his foot. Maybe it wasn't the defining moment in the game.

Or maybe it was. It prevented yet another shot on net and perhaps a goal.

But he paid a price. It hurt like the dickens.

Winning teams show up when the price has to be pad. When the little things get done, the big things just happen to work out as well.

The Attack led the Knights 2-0 and 3-1 last night. But instead of fading away, the Knights pushed harder. The Attack wilted. It was as if they were resigned to their fate.

Sergei Kostitsyn, who before last night had had a lacklustre series, took the bit in his teeth and not only played well offensively with three goals but showed some emotion and grit. He was involved.

The Knights came back to tie the game and then blew the Attack out in the third period, the time when you separate contenders from pretenders, when you usually cash in on what you paid to get that far.

It isn't always about great skill and great goaltending. Sometimes it's just about wanting to win so badly that there's no price you aren't willing to pay.


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