Skellett plays for his future

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

This has been Londoner Jordan Skellett's first trip through the OHL playoffs.

It's as if he was destined to cross paths with his hometown Knights.

Had the 19-year-old remained in Erie rather than stay home to await a trade this season, he would've encountered London in the opening round with the Otters. Instead, the fourth-year forward was shipped to Saginaw and his Spirit are now trailing the Knights in the Western Conference semifinal series.

"I'd rather be playing them in the second round than the first," the six-foot, 203-pounder said. "We won the first playoff round in our team's history (a sweep over Guelph). That was a big thing for the franchise to advance.

"We talked about it a lot. This team wanted to be a part of history and bought in. This was the first step."

It's all about opportunity. Every playoff game London rookie Jared Knight appears in this spring, he will improve and the club will be better off down the road.

But there are also players like Skellett, who know this first post-season run could wind up his last. He's been waiting a long time for this precious chance and is learning on the fly.

Skellett knows what these extra games and series mean to him. He came into the OHL as a first-round pick of the Mississauga IceDogs.

But he wasn't drafted by an NHL club so right now, he's playing to be picked up by the pros or to stay as one of the Spirit's three over-age players next season.

He has impressed the club's GM and head coach so far.

"When we got Jordan, I heard talk about issues with him but I haven't seen any of that," Saginaw boss Todd Watson said. "I'm a straight-forward guy and I find with Jordan, if you look him in the eye and tell him what you expect from him, he does it."

The Spirit knew going in they were underdogs against the Knights, who are faster.

But when London steamrolled Saginaw 7-3 in the opener, Skellett showed some spirited signs of life by jostling with Phil McRae. He was booted out of the game.

"We just pushed and shoved but I wanted to send the message that we're not just going to roll over," he said. "It's a long series. We're in this and we're not going to let them do what they want."

Skellett's father Jay, a big defensive defencemen, played briefly for the Knights.

"There's no question -- he's rooting for us (the Spirit)," Jordan said. "He goes to the JLC, of course. But not Saginaw too much. My dad's the kind of guy who'd rather watch the game on TV at the bar or home. I have (younger siblings) and they're busy with their things so he and my mom have to be there for them, too."


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