Kerbashian goal scoring a mystery

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Kale Kerbashian swears he doesn't have anything against the Erie Otters.

But three big goals for the swift London Knights forward in three games so far this year against the Midwest division foe.

Something's going on here.

He scored the winner that beat Erie in the Knights' home opener on Sept. 19.

He toasted the Otters on the road in overtime on Oct. 4.

Then, back in Pennsylvania on Saturday, he assisted on Justin Taylor's game-winner and scored the key insurance marker to sink Erie again and improve the Knights' current streak to eight straight victories.

"Sometimes, you feel a little better in some rinks than others," Kerbashian said.

Does he feel an affinity for the Otters' Tullio Arena?

"Not really," he said with a grin.

It's a mystery, then, like trying to explain why London has owned its upcoming opponent -- Owen Sound -- for the past two years.

The Attack, fruitless in three tries this season against the Knights, visit the John Labatt Centre for the final time on Friday night.

"The way we feel, when you're the kings (of the OHL's Midwest Division), you have to get up and prove it every week," Kerbashian said. "Look at Windsor. They're on top (of the OHL). They beat the Soo 12-1. That's going out and proving it."

He makes some good points.

But what doesn't make sense is Kerbashian's ability to pot a career-high nine goals and 20 points this season -- nearly one per game -- without a lick of power play success. His assist on Taylor's goal was his first point this year with the man advantage.

"If you look at my points, I haven't had much use for the power play this year," he said. "Most of them have come on five-on-five play. But I take a lot of pride in the penalty kill."

Kerbashian played a season-high 22 minutes in Erie. He has become key on the penalty kill, especially with leader Nazem Kadri out with a broken jaw and Garett Hunter expected to miss four to six weeks with a knee injury.

"Speed and anticipation, those are the keys and Kale has them," London assistant coach Pat Curcio said. "We've been very happy with his play."

The quick feet have always been what made the former fourth-rounder sweet to Knights GM Mark Hunter. Kerbashian isn't big (five-foot-11, 170 pounds), but his stride -- a hybrid of hockey and speed skating lessons from ages 10 to 1 * -- was honed in Thunder Bay, land of many ice surfaces.

"There were a ton of rinks around everywhere growing up," he said. "I had one (a 40x20-foot sheet) in the backyard and the Staals (he's friends with Eric and Jordan's brother Jared) had an unbelievable one.

"We'd skate every day. For four years, I'd go to speed skating one day and then hockey the next. It was tough. I had to adjust my stride all the time."

Kerbashian has scored five of his nine goals on the road. Growing up, he got used to long distance games.

"All winter, we'd go to Winnipeg for hockey and speed skating and that's an eight-hour drive," he said. "We travelled a long way, but we would get some good games."

The competition, countless ice surfaces and endless kilometres have brought him here. The NHL is a speed game and Kerbashian is opening eyes.

"It's fun to go through a draft year like this," he said, "but if I don't get picked, just a tryout would be great."

KNIGHTS NOTES

If Kadri is re-activated by Dec. 8, that would give him one week to get ready for Canadian world junior camp . . . London has lost just two regulation games since D John Carlson joined the team. He wasn't in the lineup in either . . . Yesterday, London assistant coach Pat Curcio held the first committee meeting to plan the Euro-Can Cup. The proposal is to have a London Knights alumni roster play in a four-team tournament against European pro clubs next summer.


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