WINDSOR -- At five-foot-10, 173 pounds, baby-faced Ryan Ellis isn't the most imposing guy in the rink.
But when he winds up to shoot on the power play, there's nothing more intimidating in the OHL.
The little Windsor defenceman cracked the Canadian world junior team this year as a power-play specialist. The tiny quarterback scored twice on the power play, including 4:30 into overtime, as his league champion Spitfires stormed back from a two-goal hole to beat the Knights 4-3 in the first game of the OHL's Western Conference final before 6,138 last night.
"I've scored some big goals but because this is the furthest we've been in the playoffs, I'd say this was one of the bigger ones," the 18-year-old said.
All four Windsor goals came on the power play.
The Knights, just 10 minutes from a series-opening win, blew a golden opportunity to wrestle home-ice advantage away from the Spits.
"We took some costly penalties," London forward Nazem Kadri said. "We feel like we play our best at home and we'll have to come out for the next one (tomorrow) and even it up.
"We showed we can play with them."
In the third, Michael Del Zotto (tripping) and Phil McRae (hooking) went to the sin bin 43 seconds apart.
Ellis scored quickly on a point blast and then Andrei Loktionov threw the puck right through Trevor Cann's legs.
"The first one, luckily, Cann was screened on it and he tried to fight through the screen," Ellis said. "But it went in and I think that was the spark for Andrei's goal. He made a great shot to tie.
"(In OT) I think the shot hit someone's (Del Zotto's) stick and deflected past."
Washington Capitals first rounder John Carlson, one of the Knights' best defenceman and penalty killers, was in the box for hooking big Lane MacDermid, setting the stage for Ellis' heroics.
London wouldn't complain publicly about that call or the McRae hook that put the Knights at a two-man disadvantage in the third.
"I have no comment on that," London head coach Dale Hunter said.
Bob Boughner, named earlier in the day as a back-to-back winner of the OHL's coach of the year, called a timeout 32 seconds into the overtime power play.
Ellis made sure the game would end on that man advantage.
"We drew that play up," Ellis said.
Cann and Windsor goalie Andrew Engelage, who looked shaky in a scoreless first period, sent the game to overtime with some late heroics.
Cann made a sensational pad save to turn aside Taylor Hall on his doorstep and Engelage shot out his blocker to rob Daniel Erlich, who couldn't raise the puck over the big outstretched keeper.
It was the first overtime period for both clubs in these playoffs.
After a scoreless first, Kadri buried a short-handed breakaway back-hander on a beautiful stretch pass from Carlson.
Windsor's Scott Timmins tied it, but the Knights went ahead on two gorgeous passing plays that led to Justin Taylor and Carlson goals.
Top-ranked Windsor entered the series with goaltending questions. But big Andrew Engelage didn't have a chance on any of the three London tallies.
Tic-tac-toe beats six-foot-five every time.
That, and London's ability to limit Windsor's scoring chances, are the bright lights in a sour defeat they let slip away.
"We're not used to only getting 34 shots on goal," Ellis said. "We wanted to make our power plays, when we had them, count."
Special teams are usually the difference in the playoffs.
The Spits, ranked fifth with the man advantage during the regular season, went four-for-six. The Knights, top in the league by season's end, were just one-for-five.
And now, it's 1-0 Windsor.
But they know they're in for a series.
No one is getting steamrolled in this one.