Knights' faith rewarded

London Knights general manager Mark Hunter completes the new ensemble for first-round draft pick...

London Knights general manager Mark Hunter completes the new ensemble for first-round draft pick Scott Harrington. (Derek Ruttan/Sun Media)

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Scott Harrington wrote a religion exam yesterday morning to finish up Grade 10 at Kingston's Regiopolis-Notre Dame secondary school.

In the afternoon, he was at London's John Labatt Centre agreeing to become a disciple of the Hunter hockey bible.

"I had to get the exam moved so I would be able to be here," said the talented 16-year-old defenceman, selected 19th overall by the Knights in last month's OHL draft.

Now light at the back end, the Knights pushed hard to ink Harrington, who was expected to be a top-three pick but frightened away several teams before the draft with his U.S. college stance.

"I didn't commit (to a university) but at that time, all the schools had been around talking to us so that was our focus," the six-foot, 200-pounder said. "Then, the OHL draft came and my parents (Pat and Cindy) and I had to look at that too.

"I was glad it was London. The day of the draft, I was in Victoria (for the Tier 2 junior A RBC Cup) so it was 6 a.m. (Pacific time) when the draft started on the computer and my parents were on a plane to B.C. and didn't find out who took me until that afternoon."

The Knights turned up the charm on Harrington. They organized a first-class visit and enlisted Tourism London's help.

"It was a gamble but when we took Daniel Erlich, he didn't know what he was going to do, either," GM Mark Hunter said. "(OHL commissioner) David Branch is happy that this kid is in our league. It doesn't matter who drafted him. He doesn't have to worry about anything. He just has to play his game.

"This is a great day for the organization."

Harrington isn't the lone star. The Knights signed four other players from the current draft class and one -- second-rounder Jake Worrad -- already volunteered to be the Kingston native Harrington's tour guide in town.

The Knights hope one day the two form the kind of defensive duo John Carlson and Michael Del Zotto did this season.

"I met Scott (at Knights mini-camp) and I'll take it upon myself to show him around, where all the good places are to get some food," former Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs standout Worrad said.

"It's just exciting to be here and part of this organization. When I first met Dale and Mark, it was unbelievable. Here I was, shaking hands with the OHL coach who was fastest to win 300 games and guys who were such a big part of Washington and Montreal when they played in the NHL," Worrad said.

Free agent goalie Michael Houser grew up near Pittsburgh in Wexford, Penn. He openly rooted for the Stanley Cup champion Penguins -- even as he played minor hockey in Detroit for Little Caesars.

"I was the only one cheering for the Penguins --everyone else was a Red Wing fan," said the big puckstopper who turned heads this season toiling for a struggling Des Moines Buccaneers club.

The Knights have a major question mark in goal. Houser, who will turn 17 when the season starts, wants to be the answer.

"I'm coming in to camp to compete for the No. 1 job," he said. "If the Knights decide I have to sit on the bench for a while, I'll be a good teammate but everyone wants to play.

"You hope that you can do something like that, too."

Pat Kane and Sam Gagner formed a deadly one-two punch here three years ago. Chatham-Kent Cyclones teammates Dane Fox and Seth Griffith, top guns in midget this season, heard all those stories before joining the Knights. Their coach was the cousin of ex-Knights assistant Dave Gagner, Sam's dad.

Having a friend to share the experience will help -- and Coach Dale Hunter knows there's plenty to go through.

"They sit here today baby-faced and they'll leave in three or four years as grizzled veterans of the OHL," he said. "Corey Perry, when he was here, I don't think he shaved for his first three years."


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