Knights added guns for Spitfires

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Flash forward through the London-Windsor rivalry's regular-season moments.

An angry Akim Aliu, his Knights jersey askew, getting the boot as old Windsor Arena thundered with boos.

Spitfires sophomore Taylor Hall, the NHL's top prize in 2010, taking out this year's No. 1 John Tavares' shoulder with a lightning-charged check.

Windsor's Greg Nemisz scored after a rapid recovery from a Michael Del Zotto hit from behind. Andrei Loktionov's late, long-distance bomb on Trevor Cann. Spitfire tough guy Richard Greenop fighting Mike Yovanic, big Yovanic's knee taken out by tiny Ryan Ellis, then Tavares' hat trick to become the OHL's all-time goal king and deny the Spits a 60-win season.

It has all led to this: Game 1 of the OHL's best-of-seven Western Conference final tonight at 7 p.m. at Windsor's brand-new WFCU Centre.

What's next for the memory bank?

"It should be a good series and we're looking forward to it," said Tavares, expected to be closely watched by Windsor defenders Ben Shutron and Mark Cundari.

"I've played against Shutron for years when he was with Kingston and he's a good, steady defenceman. Cundari's a sparkplug for them. They (Windsor) made their moves at the (trade) deadline and we countered with our own moves.

"Down the stretch, we had some close games with them and it was a huge thing (winning on March 8 against them). Going into their building, we know we have to win at least one there because they have home ice advantage."

Del Zotto came to the Knights as part of the Tavares trade. He realizes what these two weeks mean to their London legacy.

"We were brought in here to win," he said. "This series has a good chance of defining our time here."

The Knights have been to the conference final five of the past six years. The Spitfires are back for the first time since 2002.

But everything London did and every move they made this season was prepared in case this series materialized.

"I think we realized we needed a few more guys to compete with Windsor," London captain Scott Aarssen said. "We added and we got closer and then we beat them in their rink. I think we're ready for a tough series here."

This is the time where London GM Mark Hunter finds out if his wheeling and dealing was worth it.


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