Ex-Pete ready for Knights

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Daniel Ryder strolled into the John Labatt Centre with the same big playoff beard and confident manner he had last spring.

The only differences for the talented forward is he's back a round earlier -- the Western Conference final rather than the OHL final -- and a member of another team -- the Plymouth Whalers instead of the Peterborough Petes.

"I have good memories of being here," the 20-year-old native of Bonavista, Nfld., said.

That's because his Petes swept London in that OHL final and Ryder, who scored his team's first goal in the final three games of the series, earned playoff MVP honours and a trip to the Memorial Cup in Moncton, N.B.

First goals are big for every hockey team. They hardly ever win games but they always help a club get started. Statistics show it's usually a team leader who gets the opener and Ryder, whose brother Michael plays with Sergei Kostitsyn's brother Andrei with the Montreal Canadiens, is certainly filling that role for Plymouth this season.

"You just try to come out and get some early momentum for the team," the Calgary Flames third-rounder said. "That's all there is to it. You try to be prepared and ready to go. If you can score one early for the team, it helps."

In three of four regular season meetings with London this year, Plymouth jumped on the Knights early and often. The Whalers didn't do it last night, trailing 1-0 after the first period because of some penalty trouble.

But Ryder knows from experience this Plymouth team is going to get its share of chances in this series with their big, powerful forwards going against the Knights defence in a best-of-seven series.

"I think there's similarities with this team and Peterborough last year," he said. "The only difference is this team is a little bit bigger. But it's fast and skilled just like our team last year. It was no problem coming in here after being traded. We're all on the same page."

Plymouth, which had not played in six days after dispatching Kitchener in just five games, knew it had to do well in the special teams battle against London and limit the Knights' chances. But like many good teams, the Whalers feel their opposition has to adjust to them rather than the other way around.

"We're more worried about what we're doing than what they're doing," Ryder said.

The Knights are hoping to change that attitude.


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