Knights hold off Sting

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

SARNIA -- The ping of the post can be sweet music to a goaltender's ears.

But it can also be screeching nails-on-chalkboard stuff for a goal scorer.

London Knights goalie Michael Houser heard a soothing symphony with 50 seconds left in a one-goal game.

Sarnia Sting shooter Kale Kerbashian?

Nothing more than head-shaking heavy metal.

The former Knights forward whipped a point-blank chance off Houser's far post as London survived with a 4-3 win over the Sting before 3,334 at the newly named RBC Centre last night.

"Sometimes, those go in," said Houser, who stood tall for his second victory in a 19-shot, third-period barrage. "It didn't and a win's a win. It doesn't matter if I stop 50 or three of 50 as long as we still get the win.

"That's what it's all about."

The twice-traded Kerbashian is suddenly one of the veterans on a young Sarnia club that fell behind 4-0, but never gave up.

"I was shooting high all night," he said, "so I decided to try something else. Tough break. We had some chances and we came back against them. We were right there. We have a lot of young guys and this is a rebuild here, but all we can do is work hard."

The Sting will get better. Over-age goalie Adam Courchaine is due back at practice today.

Rookie Jesse Raymond, who played for the St. Marys Lincolns last year, surrendered two early goals and Sarnia trailed 3-0 after one period.

The Knights had inside information. Forward Colin Martin nearly scored 40 for the Lincolns last year and knows Raymond's game.

Nazem Kadri, the high-octane forward fresh from the Toronto Maple Leafs camp, beat the goalie on his first shot back in the OHL.

The Sting, right now, feel like they're in rerun mode. They have already surrendered five short-handed goals in five games.

The eventual winner came that way on Zac Rinaldo's breakaway, set up by the hard work of Dominic DeSando and a gorgeous stretch pass.

"That was forehand sauce," DeSando said with a grin. "I saw Zac, heard him call for it, and I knew if I could just get it up in the middle, he'd have a shot at it."

He laid it right on the tape.

DeSando and defenceman Matt Ashman learned much from Catholic Central high school football assistant coach Mark Regan about working out this summer. They love the guy.

Coaches can't teach that kind of assist. They can, however, instil the drive to keep skating all game. The Knights didn't do that.

"We want to have the puck, but it's tough, we took some penalties (five in a row at one point) and you end up spending a lot of time in your own end," DeSando said. "We were very good in the first half of the game, but we didn't keep it up."

"You can't stop playing," London GM Mark Hunter added. "That Sarnia team works hard. Dave MacQueen is a good coach. He's going to get the most out of them."

The Sting took exception to Rinaldo's thunderous third-period body check on smallish rookie Brandon Francisco. Rinaldo didn't get a penalty on the play. Sarnia wanted an elbowing call on a perceived head check.

"That's Rinaldo's game," said Kerbashian, who was swapped for the Philly prospect last season. "There's nothing we can do about it now. We just have to move on. We play them again."

Francisco left the ice bleeding, although Mark Hunter believes it was from an earlier cut.

"I saw him with a band-aid over that spot to start the third," he said. "I saw the hit live and on the replay and if you watch it frame-by-frame, that's where you'll see it wasn't high."

Rinaldo has been a leader so far for the Knights, although the club's official leader is Justin Taylor. He wore the captain's C on his sweater.

Phil Varone, Phil McRae and Kadri all sported A's and could make up a dominant line -- if they find some more chemistry.

The Knights are starting to resemble the team Mark Hunter envisioned.

And it didn't hurt that Houser's best friend -- the post -- banged out a winning tune this time.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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Game glance

Knights 4, Sting 3

London goals: Nazem Kadri, Steve Tarasuk, Leigh Salters, Zac Rinaldo

Sarnia goals: Ben O'Quinn, Zack MacQueen, Miro Preisinger

Next: The Knights face the Owen Sound Attack tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.


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