The OHL playoffs are about sacrifice and Jordan Foreman says he is willing to pay the price.
Count the London Knights veteran forward among those volunteering to stand in front of Soo Greyhounds defenceman Josh Godfrey's wicked slapshots for the benefit of his team in the Western conference semifinal series.
The best-of-seven series starts tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.
Never mind that Foreman has already been hurt blocking shots this year and that the last thing he wants in an injury-filled season is to spend time nursing new wounds.
There's no more six-foot-six Boris Valabik from Kitchener to terrorize this year, so Foreman is thirsty for a new challenge -- standing in front of red-hot howitzers.
"It's playoffs and that's the time of year you have to do things like that to win," the 20-year-old Cambridge native said. "Special teams are important against a team like them. They're going to try to play defensive against us so we can't let them get anything on the power play."
To beat the Sault, London's penalty killers will have to shut down Godfrey, who had seven goals -- five on the power play -- in the Greyhounds' six-game victory over Saginaw. The 19-year-old Kingston native isn't worried about Foreman or any of the Knights getting shin pads or skates in front of his blasts.
"I've always had a good shot," he said. "My dad taught me how when I was younger and I shot pucks all the time. They might try to limit me, but we have a lot of guys here who are more than happy to shoot the puck."
Blocking shots is one way London can achieve its goal of making life easier for goalie Steve Mason. The Knights don't want their puckstopper to have to face as much rubber as he did in Round 1.
"I think it's harder to defend when the forwards keep the puck down low and work from there on the power play," Foreman said. "We'll take the shot from the point and try to get in front of it."
Godfrey has a good one and wants to make up for missing three of four games in last year's season-ending sweep at the hands of London. His rookie season in Guelph also ended in four straight to the Memorial Cup champion Knights.
"I had a concussion last year and it was tough to sit out and know there wasn't anything I could do to help the team," he said. "We have the same kind of work attitude we did last year but we have a little more talent front. We have (Maple Leafs first-rounder Jiri) Tlusty and Dustin Jeffrey turned into a legitimate scorer this year. (Captain) Cody Thornton is the heart and soul of this team right now.
"Guys like that make it easier on the defence. We just have to worry about our own end."
Last year, London's veteran players discussed the importance of beating Sault Ste. Marie in a maximum of five games because no one wanted to make a second trip north. The Sault's new Steelback Centre isn't as hostile a place as the old Memorial Gardens but Greyhounds coach Craig Hartsburg said he never heard the old barn as loud as the new place was in three games against the Spirit.
"It sent shivers down my spine just talking about it," Godfrey said.
If London surrenders an early win at the JLC early in the series, it will give the 'Hounds confidence.
FIVE WAYS TO WIN
1. Kill Kyle Gajewski's confidence. The Londoner has never won at the John Labatt Centre. Snapping that streak will give the Soo goalie a major boost.
2. Shut down Josh Godfrey. The big Soo defenceman has scored seven goals -- five on the power play -- in six playoff games.
3. Outwork opponent. If both teams are equal in sweat, then talent and bounces usually decide outcome.
4. Secondary scoring. Sergei Kostitsyn and Pat Kane will get their share. Who will be this round's Matt Clarke and Ryan Martinelli?
5. Get it over early. Sault Ste. Marie is used to long travel. The longer the series goes, the more time the Knights will spend on the bus, playing into the 'Hounds' hands.
Sault Ste Marie
1. Don't take penalties. No matter what the stats say, the Knights still have the best power play in the OHL.
2. Win your home games. The Knights boast the best road record in OHL history (29-5) and won both contests in Owen Sound in the first round.
3. Solve Steve Mason. Screened shots and slot traffic are the only options against a guy who has been stopping nine-and-a-half of every 10 shots he faces lately.
4. Hit the Knights. Physical play can lead to penalties but these Knights live for the open ice.
5. Keep it close, boring and low-scoring. If you try to score six, London finds a way to get seven or eight.