Knights blacked out by Storm

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

GUELPH -- This is beginning to look a lot like 2005-06.

After winning the Memorial Cup two years ago, the short-handed London Knights started their next season limping out of the gate and losing four straight games. The Knights are 0-for-September again and have dropped their first three contests after a tepid 5-0 defeat to the Guelph Storm before an announced crowd of 3,118 yesterday at the newly-named Sleeman Centre.

London native and Guelph defenceman Drew Doughty, who was the featured player on a promotional poster giveaway yesterday, recorded his first OHL hat trick and added an assist as the Storm scored four power-play goals on London goalie Stephane Cesar. It was more than enough firepower against a Knights offence that has lit the red lamp just five times in its first three games.

"The difference is they have a Doughty and we don't," said London head coach Dale Hunter, whose team misses top scorers Pat Kane and Sam Gagner and goalie Steve Mason, the league's top puckstopper. Gagner, still in Edmonton training camp with the Oilers, has to sign an NHL contract by 3 p.m. today or he will be shipped back to the Knights.

After London's terrible start two years ago, the cavalry returned in the form of goalie Adam Dennis, captain Dylan Hunter and scoring star Rob Schremp, who vaulted the club back to the top of the OHL and a third straight Hamilton Spectator Trophy as league champs. There's no telling if the team's high-flying troops will be back this time.

"We have to stop relying on Pat and Sam because they're not here and who knows if they're coming back," said London veteran Matt Clarke, who moved up front after playing defence the last two games.

"We had a few chances (on Guelph goalie Cody St. Jacques, who stopped 28 shots for the shutout) but not enough and they did a good job of keeping us to the outside. We still look like a group trying to jell together out there."

London newcomer Pat Maroon, a Philadelphia prospect, has five points so far, but he can't do it alone. Forward Tony Romano, a 19-year-old who left Cornell University, came to the Knights with a reputation as a slick scoring forward, but doesn't have a point in three games and didn't see much ice after the first period.

"I was moved up because they (the coaches) wanted to try to spark something on offence and to try out some of the youngers guys on defence," Clarke said.

Defenceman Nathan Martine, a 19-year-old acquired in a preseason trade from the Niagara IceDogs for Jordan Foreman, sat out as a healthy scratch one game after he was in the penalty box for cross-checking when Mickey Renaud scored the game-winning goal for Windsor on Friday night at the John Labatt Centre.

None of London's roster moves had any effect on the 17-year-old Doughty, who will be an NHL first-rounder next summer. He declared himself lucky for scoring three times on his poster-boy day and was given the puck after his third goal to commemorate the hat trick.

"London is one of our biggest rivals so we always love getting the chance to beat them," Doughty said.

"On the power play, I'm just trying to get pucks through and on the net. I still hit a few shin pads and those are the ones I should've dumped into the corner."

STORM 5, KNIGHTS 0

Guelph goals: Drew Doughty (3), Derek Brochu, Leigh Salters

Shutout: Cody St. Jacques

Next: The Knights meet the Sudbury Wolves Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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