Gale of goals from Knights lashes Storm

Nazem Kadri makes a nice deke to his backhand and beats Guelph goalie Matt Hoyle and Storm defender...

Nazem Kadri makes a nice deke to his backhand and beats Guelph goalie Matt Hoyle and Storm defender Adam Comrie to score a second short-handed goal for the London Knights during the first period of last night's game at the John Labatt Centre. The Knights won 8-1. (Mike Hensen, Sun Media)

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

The London Knights were laughing and joking about it in the dressing room.

Who was going to get the Teddy Bear Toss goal?

Geoffrey Hare called it.

The Knights public relations director looked to the captain. Then, he put his bear-retrieving troops and the Salvation Army on standby.

"Geoff told me before the game I was going to get it," London's leader Justin Taylor said, "and if he's going to be right like that, I think I'm going to ask him a few more times this year who's going to score goals."

Taylor bagged it 7:49 into the first period at exactly 7:49 p.m. and the Knights spent the next 10 minutes watching Hare and Co. sweep a record 8,232 stuffed toys off the ice before hammering the Guelph Storm 8-1 in front of 9,079 spectators last night at the John Labatt Centre.

Now, this was no wild gut shot by Hare. The guy knows the teddy bear business.

His brother Ryan, a former Knight, got the fur flying back in 2002.

And he got the big assist from Taylor, even though Nazem Kadri's amazing individual effort handed the captain his goal on a silver platter.

It was the play of a guy who wants a big role on the Canadian world junior team.

"Naz is a phenomenal player," said Taylor, who scored or assisted on London's first five goals. "He heard me calling for it and put it on my stick. That's what he can do when you give him time and space."

The Knights showed what they can do when they have a man in the penalty box.

London ravaged Guelph's power play. They scored three shorthanded goals and held the Storm to 0-for-7 with the man advantage.

"We were joking after the second period that our PK is doing a lot better than our power play right now," Taylor said.

How could there not be a lot of laughing and joking after a seven-goal win?

The Knights lead the OHL with 10 shorthanded goals.

They say you can't win a championship without a good power play, but maybe you can if you're penalty kill is devastating.

Steve Tarasuk, one of the most underrated defencemen in the OHL, had two more goals, including the third shortie on a beauty rush in the third.

He recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick, too, after chucking the knuckles with Cody McNaughton.

"We've had a lot of those Gordie Howes on this team so I said why not," Tarasuk said with a grin.

"We have a team with a lot of players who are geared towards scoring shorthanded goals. They're not afraid to jump up when we're a man down and the other team's power play isn't usually thinking defence very much, so if you can get the puck out and gain possession, you have a very good chance to score."

Taylor got it all started. The Teddy Bear goal came a man down.

That's what leaders do.

"It was great to get it," the 20-year-old Londoner said, "and it was nice to see all the people come out and support it with all those bears."

The Knights admitted Taylor was the deserving hero.

"It's nice when it's your captain who gets a big goal like that," Tarasuk said. "Especially since we didn't get off to such a great start (when Londoner and Storm rookie Carter Sandlak opened the scoring)."

Clearly, the Knights take their cue from the top.

Taylor plays a hard-nosed style and often has a beaten-up face.

This time, it was Tarasuk with a bloody nose and band-aids all over his mug. He claims it wasn't from the fight.

"It was in the first period," he said. "I dove at some guy's feet and all of a sudden, my nose froze and this is it.'

He dove at a guy's feet?

This is the kind of effort that's infectious.

The Knights got Jared Knight back after learning of his diabetes diagnosis. He scored and crashed the net like always.

London's overage players -- Taylor, Tarasuk and Leigh Salters -- combined for five goals.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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Knights 8, Storm 1

London goals: Justin Taylor (2), Steve Tarasuk (2), Nazem Kadri, Phil Varone, Jared Knight, Leigh Salters

Guelph goal: Carter Sandlak

Next: The Knights head to Saginaw tonight. They're back home tomorrow to face the Soo Greyhounds at 6 p.m. at the JLC. Tickets available. Call (519) 681-0800 or online at www.londonknights.com


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