Overtime kills Knights

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

WINDSOR -- There is no consolation in overtime.

No bright side. No character-building lesson. No satisfaction from respect earned and redemption realized.

The London Knights filed slowly out of the visitors dressing room to a waiting bus after a fourth overtime loss in five games against the OHL Western Conference champion Windsor Spitfires.

Chin up, but heads shaking at a series they'll never forget.

"I came to win a championship, so this is really tough right now," said dejected London forward John Tavares, who scored once and added an assist in his final Knights game. "This is a special group of guys. You play five overtimes and it just didn't go our way."

Spitfires' Eric Wellwood, a revelation in the last four games, got in their way. He scored his second overtime winner in the series 10:14 into the record fifth straight game with an extra session to send Windsor to the OHL final with a 4-3 win and five-game victory before 6,528 last night at the WFCU Centre.

"All I had to do was put it in," the young brother of Vancouver Canuck Kyle Wellwood said. "(Mark) Cundari took the shot and it went in front in a scramble and I got to it."

In the end, Windsor didn't have more talent or character than the Knights. They simply had more heroes.

"Overtime's overtime," London head coach Dale Hunter said. "If they get the bounce and score, you're done."

The Knights were eliminated in the longest OT of the series.

"It's a terrible feeling," London defenceman Michael Del Zotto said. "I was brought here to win and we didn't get it done. We worked as hard as we could and it wasn't enough.

"I don't think there's anything to learn from it -- just work and maybe the bounces will go your way. It's the best you can hope for. When I look back on this, it'll be a feeling of disappointment. We were built to win a championship."

If Windsor goes on to win its first league title since 1988 en route to the Memorial Cup in Rimouski, they can thank the Knights for testing their character, resolve and every fibre of their puck-chasing beings.

The London coaching staff, shocked by another overtime loss, didn't shake hands with the Windsor bench as per hockey custom at the end of a best-of-seven series.

"They were very congratulatory to us," Windsor head coach Bob Boughner said. "We didn't see it as a snub. They told us, 'Go on and win it all.' "

The Knights again roared out to a two-goal lead. They also led 3-2 after two periods.

But those circumstances have been death knells in this strange, momentum-shifting series.

There were seven two-goal leads blown between the two clubs. The team that led after two periods only won once -- Windsor in Game 4 after the Knights' sensational three-goal third period.

"We emptied the tank, we left it all on the ice and we did everything we could -- you don't get a bounce here or there and that's what it comes down to," said London forward Zac Rinaldo, who scored the most bizarre goal of a series full of them to give the Knights that 3-2 edge.

It was his first playoff goal and London's last of the season.

"In overtime, you never know," he added. "We had a puck hit Phil McRae's shin pad and go in and lost on that. We had a puck hit (Tavares) stick. Those are just bad breaks."

London goalie Trevor Cann rebounded after being relegated to backup duties behind Daryl Borden in Game 4. He stopped 49 Windsor shots but the script never changed. Cundari's shot never got to him, he lost it for a minute and Wellwood shoved it past him.

"I learned a lot in this series about how you have to prepare," Cann said. "I came back and felt better, but just felt it came too late. I wish it happened a few games earlier and it might have been a different story.

"It was two good teams and every game was so close. I don't know if I'll be back, or if I do, who we have coming back, but it was an honour to play with these guys and to wear this jersey for as many months as I did since November when I was traded."

The Knights made the big trade with Oshawa in January so they could compete with Windsor in this series.

Del Zotto showed why he's a first rounder of the New York Rangers. Paired with John Carlson, they were two horses who were hard for the Spits to stop.

Tavares played and scored despite an injured shoulder that has lingered since Taylor Hall hit him on Feb. 6. He plans to rest it and, after the ache of overtime wears off, prepare for the NHL draft.

"It's (the shoulder not inhibiting me from doing anything," he said. "It's just tough right now to talk about myself after this game. It was a tough series. We didn't get the result we wanted."

They came as close as a coin's flip every game.


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