Tavares scores hat trick on way to record

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

WINDSOR -- John Tavares is the Ontario Hockey League's greatest goal scorer.

The London Knights forward passed former Ottawa 67's star Peter Lee with his 214th career goal yesterday in a 4-3 win over the league champion Spitfires before 6,590 yesterday at Windsor's WFCU Centre.

For good measure, the player expected to be the first overall pick in this summer's NHL draft completed his hat trick by scoring the game winner with just 1:55 left in the third period.

Tavares now has 215 goals. There are two games left in the Knights' regular season.

"Obviously, I'm happy about it," the 18-year-old Oakville native said.

"It's a nice feeling. The record stood for a long time (33 years) and it's nice to be able to accomplish something like this."

After his record-breaking goal with seven minutes left in the third, the Knights streamed off the visiting bench to congratulate him.

The Spitfire fans gave Tavares a nice hand and the feat was announced on the public address system, including a short sampling of Tina Turner's song Simply the Best.

Tavares raised his stick in the air twice to acknowledge the cheers.

"I wanted to thank everyone who has helped me along the way and thank the fans," Tavares said. "That's why I did the stick salute. Two years ago when I broke Wayne Gretzky's record (scoring 72 goals as a 16-year-old), I got a standing ovation in Ottawa.

Tavares was booed Friday night in Kitchener, one of the Knights' bigger foes. But the Spitfires have always been London's most passionate rivals.

His goal-scoring even managed to impress the guy who allowed it.

"He's the best I've ever seen," said Windsor goalie Josh Unice, who played for Kitchener in the Memorial Cup last spring. "He's got a better shot than most NHL players. It's such a quick release, it's on you before you know it. His vision, his shot and his play-making are unbelievable."

Tavares has scored 32 goals in just two months with London. He has a league-best 58 goals.


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