Knights lack passion in loss

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

WINDSOR -- Someone should have told the London Knights that being passengers was supposed to end when they arrived at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

The players must have missed the message. Most of the Knights might as well have stayed on the bus last night.

They showed little jump, little passion and except for a span of five minutes in the second period, they may has well have mailed in the two points.

They were dominated by a much better team.

The Spitfires defeated the Knights 5-2 in Ontario Hockey League play last night, taking a 3-0 first period lead and controlling the rest of the contest.

The Knights had only 15 shots on goal, four in the first period.

"That's more impressive than the score," said Spitfires' coach Bob Boughner of the four shots on goal. "Don't worry about the score, keep working on four shots. Everyone talks about our firepower, but our offence comes from our defence."

As for the Knights, the most life they showed was two seconds into the game when Tucker Hunter and Paul Bezzo dropped the gloves. But by the end of the first period, the Spitfires had that 3-0 lead.

Zac Rinaldo, the Knights' best player, cut the lead to 3-1 in the second and for the next three minutes, the Knights dominated. Then the surge stopped and it was the Spitfires carrying the puck and the Knights chasing it.

Rinaldo and a couple of others tried to breathe life into the team, but the patient was dead.

"We didn't win faceoffs and we're not controlling the puck," said Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu. "The kids have to bear down and win draws and control the puck so we can activate a forecheck. We didn't have the puck all night. We were just chasing them."

No Ryan Ellis. No problem.

He hurt a wrist the last time London was in town.

Ellis, one of the league's top blue-liners, will be out another three weeks. While the Spitfires were 0-8 on the power play and obviously missing him, it was about the only problem they had last night.

"I'll be spending a lot of time working out and it will give me a chance to re-focus," Ellis said. "I've never missed a game because of injury, so it's hard. It's really hard when you are playing teams like London."

The Spitfires had Bezzo and Kenny Ryan in the lineup for the first time. Bezzo came to the Spitfires in the Jesse Blacker deal and Ryan joined the Spits from the United States under-18 development team. Blacker and Ryan were both second-round draft picks of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"There's no doubt they outworked us tonight," Beaulieu said. "Their best players were better than our best players. In order for us to compete with Windsor, our best players have to be better than theirs. Look who scored, (Taylor) Hall had two, (Adam) Henrique had two. (Greg) Nemisz. Those are their best players."

Rinaldo did what he could to spark things up. Besides the goal, he also hit a goalpost and hit a few Spitfires. Not many followed his lead either in hitting or heading to the front of the net.

Rinaldo has to be careful how rambunctious he gets because whenever he's on the ice, he attracts everyone's attention.

"I feel like the majority of guys don't have emotions when they are down," Rinaldo said. "We get down a couple of goals and they're down. We don't get angry enough to come back. When we're down, we should be getting angrier. We aren't winning battles in the corners. You have to get emotional to win those battles."

Spitfires' goaltender Troy Passingham had an easy night. The Knights' Michael Hutchinson gave up three goals in the first five shots, but one was deflected and another was on a Hall shorthanded breakaway.

"Everyone has to go to the net, not just the guys who aren't afraid to go to the front of the net, the bigger, stronger guys," Rinaldo said. "The young guys, the rookies. Everyone has to go hard. You have to want to the puck and if you want the puck, you get the puck and you're going to score."

It was the third meeting between the two teams with both teams winning in their own rink. They meet once more before Christmas.

Maybe the next time, the Knights will find their way off the bus.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca

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Windsor 5, London 2

Goals: Windsor -- Adam Henrique 2, Greg Nemisz, Taylor Hall 2; London -- Zac Rinaldo, Daniel Erlich.

Next game: The Knights play the Belleville Bulls today at the John Labatt Centre at 7:30 p.m.


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