The London Knights can only hope their busy schedule over the next two weeks will sharpen their game.
Judging by last night's game against the Soo Greyhounds, they could use the work.
The Knights were lucky to get a 4-2 win. They blew a 2-0 first-period lead but earned two points when a Phil Varone centring pass went off Tucker Hunter's skate and into the net with less than seven minutes left in the game.
"I knew he was there," Varone said. "I didn't make a great pass, but you just want to get it in front and see what happens. It went in off his skate. We weren't great, but we got the W and that's all that matters."
The goal wasn't pretty but it was a fitting way to win a game that was not a work of art.
Varone was his usual busy self, but the dominant player was Akim Aliu, who scored a pair of goals. After missing nine games at the start of the year with injury and then sitting out a five-game suspension, Aliu is starting to get into shape and when he wants to play, he's a handful.
"I'm not where I want to be but I'm getting there," he said. "I thought (last night) was a good game to turn things around for me. I just have to play my game and keep things going. But I'm not where I want to be."
The period of inactivity is over for the Knights. A 6-3 loss to Owen Sound last Friday was their only game in 12 days. Now they play eight games in 14 days.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've never been a fan of one game a week," Knights assistant coach Pat Curcio said. "We expected to be flat and were afraid of being flat. We were doing little things that we wrong and it's going to take game situations to correct those."
In the loss to Owen Sound, the Knights committed numerous turnovers and didn't play with the kind of energy the coaching staff expects of them.
Last night, there were remnants of those things.
They played a good first period, blew a 2-0 lead in the second and then played a strong third period, but not without some lapses.
To the Greyhounds credit, they never gave up and only some big saves by Knights Trevor Cann kept them from doing some real damage.
"I thought the second period was kind of boring with not much happening," Aliu said. "Our skill guys were kind of lackadaisical. But when we got our feet under us in the third, our skill guys took over."
Curcio was concerned about his club not playing 60 minutes in the Owen Sound loss. He saw some of that last night as well.
"I wasn't happy with the game," Curcio said. "But it's tough enough to win in this league. When you can get two points, you're happy and you hope you are better next game."
The Greyhounds' 2-2 goal was a prime example of something that should never happen. They dumped the puck into the Knights zone and defenceman Steve Tarasuk was facing three Greyhounds. One took Tarasuk out and got the puck in front to Jordan Carroll, who scored.
But for a club looking to make a deal for another tough forward who can score, Aliu's play and goal scoring was a much-welcomed sight.
"Akim has to learn that he is an effective player," Curcio said. "To be an effective player game in and game out, you have to control everything else about your game, your anger, your emotions, your frustrations. We need him in the lineup making good plays and scoring. When he does that, he's a phenomenal hockey player."
Knights 4, Greyhounds 2
London goals: Akim Aliu 2, Daniel Erlich, Tucker Hunter
Soo goals: Cameron Odam, Jordan Carroll