Knights' wounded get some rest

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

No one ever feels chipper after rolling into London at 6 a.m. following an all-night bus trip from Sault Ste. Marie.

That sleepy, listless feeling is the least of the London Knights' concerns.

Failing to complete the four-game sweep of the Greyhounds at the Steelback Centre on Tuesday, the OHL regular season champs could be missing two key defencemen when the puck drops on Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal tomorrow at the John Labatt Centre.

Reliable veteran Scott Aarssen flew home immediately Tuesday night after accidentally being knocked wonky by defensive partner Todd Perry in the third period of a 3-0 loss.

Ohio State transfer Kevin Montgomery, freshly returned to the ice following a high ankle sprain, sat out that contest with an injury.

Both are listed as day-to-day but Knights trainer Don Brankley said Aarssen is feeling a lot better. Perry's helmet hit him in the face while both tried to hammer Greyhounds forward Matt Lyall.

"We called his parents because we thought they'd be concerned about seeing that on TV," Brankley said. "He was talking to me on the ice. We flew him back and he was checked out by the doctor (yesterday). He's fine but we don't know if he'll play."

The scariest part was Aarssen nearly slipping back to the ice on rubbery legs. Brankley didn't call for medical help or a stretcher because he felt the situation was under control.

"We had Scott down on the ice, I had turned my head for one second to tell Sergei (Kostitsyn), 'Settle down, son' because he can have a pretty good temper and he was really talking to the referee after being punched in the head," Brankley said.

"When I wasn't looking, the guys (Josh Beaulieu and Todd Perry) tried to lift Scott up because that's what they always do when they're helping a teammate. It would've been better if he stayed down for another minute or two, but I'd rather them be overanxious because that shows they're concerned about their friend."

If Aarssen and Montgomery don't play, the Knights will have to drop captain Rob Drummond or Andrew Wilkins back on the point or turn to one of a handful of rookie defencemen to fill the role. Londoner Matt Ashman, a former Junior Knight, is already logging vital minutes for the club.

While plugging their defensive holes, London also has to alter its offensive scheme after being shut out by Kyle Gajewski in Game 4. The Knights went 0-for-10 on the power play and struggled to throw the puck around with their usual authority.

"We weren't crisp out there, didn't get a lot of good shots and things didn't go our way," Todd Perry said.

The Knights also have to contend with a Sault team that finally believes in itself. For the last two years, beating Sault Ste. Marie had been a given, but now there's no telling how the 'Hounds will respond after winning for the first time in 16 tries against their nemesis.

"Every game's different so you don't know (how much momentum carries forward)," said Greyhounds coach Craig Hartsburg, who returns to the bench after serving a two-game suspension for his chuck-a-puck incident after Game 2. "We're just going to London to win one game. We don't have to win two or three games. Just one. That's the way we're approaching this."

GAME GUIDE

Knights vs. Greyhounds

London leads best-of-seven OHL Western Conference semifinal 3-1

Game 5: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Game 6: If necessary, Sunday, 2 p.m. at Sault Ste. Marie


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