Knights must wait to evaluate goalie

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

SARNIA -- The London Knights likely won't get the chance to evaluate the player they're most interested in seeing this preseason.

Goalie Michael Zador, who the Knights took with the 20th selection in this year's OHL draft, may miss all of training camp and the exhibition season with an ankle sprain suffered in dry-land training.

"He hurt it running," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. "I don't know when he'll be back or if he'll be ready at the start of the season (on Sept. 21)."

The 16-year-old from Toronto, a favourite to play for Ontario at the World Under-17 Challenge in London in December, watched the Knights and Sting play a 3-3 tie yesterday at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.

Hunter said Zador's missed time wouldn't play a factor in the decision to keep him with the Knights or send him to junior B this year. The backup job was expected to be a duel between Zador and 19-year-old incumbent Stephane Cesar, an athletic puckstopper who served the Knights well as fill-in for OHL top goalie Steve Mason last year.

But don't forget about six-foot-seven Stephen Heming, a 10th-round pick in 2006 who went the distance in net yesterday, stopping 29 Sting shots and earning the tie when Pat Maroon scored with 1:29 left in the third period.

"(Heming) was outstanding," Knights head coach Dale Hunter said. "He's a big goalie but he moved really well out there. They (the goalies) are all going to play full games (in the preseason). We have three guys fighting for the spot and it'll go to the one who plays the best."

There could be extra regular season games up for grabs in the Knights crease this year with Mason expecting a lengthy stay at Columbus Blue Jackets training camp later this month and the possibility of joining Canada's world junior team this December.

Talented forward and Knights draft pick Daniel Erlich, who is small in stature but rich in hockey talent, left London training camp last week in order to protect his NCAA eligibility. He will play in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League this season.

London forward Jordan Shine, who can play exhibition games but will have to sit out the first 16 regular season contests this year for slashing Plymouth defenceman Steve Whitely in last spring's Western Conference final, was part of a second-period line brawl involving unlikely combatants Steve Stamkos, Sarnia's best player, and top Sting defenceman Mark Katic. London forward Cody Smith injured himself during the fighting and needed to be helped off the ice.

"It's a knee," Dale Hunter said. "We don't know how bad it is yet."

Sarnia's Devin DiDiomete, who leaves for Calgary Flames training camp this week, faces multiple suspensions for leaving the bench to fight and acting as the third man in a fight.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 3, Sting 3

London goals: Greg Zavitz, Vladimir Roth, Pat Maroon

Sarnia goals: Steve Stamkos, Chris Mifflen, Ryan Wilson

Next: The Knights play their third of six exhibition game against Windsor on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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