Speedy Clarke moves forward

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

GUELPH -- The London Knights dressed a whopping seven defencemen.

Matt Clarke, a natural forward, had a hunch he could see some shifts up front.

Now, he's made a compelling case for coach Dale Hunter to keep him up there.

The 20-year-old Londoner used his ample speed to set up Phil Varone's second goal -- the game-winner with 4:25 left in the third period -- as the Knights stormed back to beat Guelph 3-2 before 4,454 last night at the Sleemann Centre.

"They (the coaches) didn't say anything but we dressed seven D and with power plays and the penalty kill rotating, there's just not a lot of ice for everyone," Clarke said, "so I kept it in my mind that I'd be the first one to go up. When I did, I got the chance to play with some pretty good players in Naz (Kadri) and Phil (Varone) and it worked out."

Clarke moved up and the Knights are moving forward.

Dale Hunter put together a power line of John Tavares, Justin Taylor and Phil McRae. That's a trio capable of striking offensive fear into defenders.

And don't forget Varone. He's as clutch as they come.

Seven of his 19 goals this season have won games. Two minutes in, he buried London's OHL-leading 17th short-handed goal.

"Some are lucky, some are not," Varone said. "I'm just happy because I could've cost us one there (with a giveway) so it might not have ended up as a game-winner. I can't make mistakes like that.

"But Johnny (Tavares) scored a big one for us (his league-leading 49th to tie it in the third) and we found a way.

"We're heading into playoffs and this (Storm) team could be an opponent. We want to show we can win the close ones and the blowouts."

There haven't been too many lop-sided contests lately. The Knights have scored more than three goals just once in their past 13 games -- a 5-1 win here nine days ago.

But this wasn't about jump-starting the offence. It was more redemption.

Nazem Kadri assisted on two goals, including Varone's winner. He bounced back after being reduced to a healthy scratch against Sarnia on Sunday.

Goalie Trevor Cann held the Knights in the game. He surrendered a go-ahead goal early in the third on a weird one that Yves Bastien shot off a London stick. But the Storm never got another sniff.

London defenceman Kevin Montgomery rejoined the club after attending his grandfather Jan (Dutch) Lughart's funeral on Tuesday. The blue-liner made a fine play to set up Tavares' marker.

Lughart was a U.S. air force veteran from the Korean War. He was 79 and influential in Montgomery's life.

"It was hard -- I was close to him," the Colorado Avalanche prospect said. "He was more of a baseball fan than hockey but he came (to London) a couple of times to watch. My dad came to pick me up Friday after the game (a 6-3 loss to Windsor) to go home and dropped me off (in Guelph yesterday)."

Montgomery has only played in 39 games this season. He arrived in London late after starting the year in the American Hockey League.

Then, he missed a couple of games last month because he couldn't shake a nasty flu.

"Hopefully, there won't be anything else the rest of the season and I'll be able to play right through the playoffs," he said.

But the Knights still have a decision to make about their defence and Clarke. They don't have to do it right now because forward Jason Wilson is nursing an upper-body injury and Tucker Hunter and Zac Rinaldo are still suspended.

But that choice is coming soon and will carry major implications for the playoffs.

GAME GLANCE

Knights 3, Storm 2

London goals: Phil Varone (2), John Tavares

Guelph goals: Matt Kennedy, Yves Bastien

Next: The Knights face Erie tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre. It's "House of Pink" night. The Knights will wear commemorative pink jerseys and the team asks fans to dress in pink to show support for breast cancer awareness.


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