Knights celebrate New Year's with win

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 PM ET

SARNIA - A new year, a new look for the London Knights team?

It’s a little early to tell and the players are the same but the Knights looked like a team with a new lease on life as 2010 headed out giving way to 2011.

The Knights went to Sarnia and won their fourth game in a row defeating the Sting 7-4 Friday.

They came back from a two-goal deficit early and rebounded after giving up a two-goal lead.

The power play that ranked last in the league going into the game, scored twice and looked dangerous.

Young players like Seth Griffith and Vladislav Namestnikov looked rejuvenated.

So who knows what New Year’s Day Saturday will bring when the two teams meet again at the John Labatt Centre but for now, the Knights have reason to celebrate.

“We worked hard,” said Knights coach Dale Hunter. “We worked hard on Wednesday against Guelph. It looks like we came back with a little pop and that’s good to see.”

It was especially evident with players like Namestnikov. He had two goals and an assist. It was a much different Namestnikov that just before the Christmas break when he looked tired. He went 13 games without scoring a goal, then scored just before Christmas against Owen Sound.

Friday, he was flying, making smart passes and looking dangerous when he was out there.

“European players don’t play as many games as we do. I think the time off revived him a little bit,” Hunter said.

The Knights’ Russian import agreed.

“I think (the time off helped,” he said. “I got a chance to go home to Michigan and I put on five or six pounds. I feel good.”

The two-goal game was big for Namestnikov.

“I feel a little more confident now,” he said. “I was getting way too hard on myself. Now, it’s all gone.”

Namestnikov was also a key to the power play along with mates Jared Knight, Griffith, Daniel Erlich and Sacha Guimond.

“We’ve been working hard and I think we’re finally starting to know each other,” Namestnikov said.

It was only the second meeting of the year between the rivals. Their only other meeting came at the John Labatt Centre in the second game of the season with the Knights getting a goal from Knight to win the contest in overtime.

Both the Knights and Sting are battling to make the playoffs. The win puts the Knights three points up on the Sting in eighth place in a tight Western Conference.

The other good news for the Knights was their ability to shake off a slow start. They were down 2-0 to the Sting giving up two goals in the first period 46 seconds apart.

But they came back with four goals in succession and got stronger as the game progressed.

Even though Michael Houser gave up four goals, he was forced into making several big saves when the game was still in question.

The Knights played without forward Chris DeSousa. DeSousa left Wednesday’s game in Guelph after taking a check to the head and is game-to-game.

Game Glance

London 7, Sarnia 4

Goals: London-Daniel Erlich, Dane Fox, Seth Griffith. Stephen Sanza, Vladislav Namestnikov 2, Jared Knight; Sarnia-Nail Yakupov, Craig Hottot 2, Alex Galchenyuk.


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