Knights’ five wins show benefits beyond standings

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 PM ET

There’s no better cure for the blues and worries than a nice winning streak.

It really is amazing how much hope and energy surge through a hockey team after a few wins.

The London Knights won their fifth game in succession Saturday, 8-4 over the Sarnia Sting at the John Labatt Centre. It completed a weekend sweep of their rivals after a 7-4 win in Sarnia on Friday.

Now before anyone gets carried away, most of the wins were against teams in the lower half of the Western Conference standings.

Still, five wins in succession is a significant number for a team that has spent most of the season trying to find consistency.

The wins have lifted the Knights in more than the standings. The victories have lifted the players’ confidence too, especially offensively.

The streak is also significant because the Knights’ young players have made a large contribution during the run.

That’s a relief to Knights general manager Mark Hunter. With the trade deadline on Jan. 10, Hunter has been attempting to assess what he has to deal or keep. Hunter has repeatedly said he doesn’t expect to be a significant player in a market that appears to have cooled. But he is pleased to see some of his young players begin to play better.

“I was worried at one time,” he said. “I wasn’t seeing things I was hoping to see. Now I’m seeing that.”

Hunter uses Dane Fox as an example.

“With Foxie, now I see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Hunter said. “He’s getting better. We need him for the future, but we also need him now. We need him to get better now until the end of the year as well.

“They look better, the kids are getting better. We’re improving as a hockey club. We are happy with some of the young players we’ve put in.”

As for action around the trade deadline, Hunter doesn’t think much is going to happen, at least with his club.

“We got our draft picks all back. Just to make a move for draft picks, I don’t really see that,” he said.

What Hunter would like is a good young player for the future, but those players are at a premium and it takes a nice package to land one. Hunter likely won’t move young players or draft picks, so he doesn’t have the pieces to make things fit.

“If I was missing draft picks or was worried about our future, we might do something, but I like our future,” he said. “(The young players) are getting better and it makes the decision easier for our organization.”

One of those who continues to get better is Seth Griffith. He scored three goals in two games against the Sting and has gotten a lot of time on the power play.

Even though he played a great deal toward the end of last season and in the playoffs, getting the kind of time he’s getting now is boosting his confidence and play.

“The past couple of nights everyone has been playing well and things have been going our way,” he said. “I just hope it continues.

“I played 20 games last year and the playoffs, but at the beginning of (this) year I still felt new to the league.

“After the break, I got a lot of rest and just feel refreshed out there.”

Griffith said he feels things starting to come together.

“We had a slump midway through and we just didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Now things are starting to go our way and everyone’s happy.

“When you are playing with a smile, it’s a lot better. You feel more confident on the ice.”

To say nothing about how much more confident everyone feels off the ice as well.

Game Glance

London 8, Sarnia 4

London goals: Stephen Sanza, Colin Martin, Seth Griffith (2), Dane Fox, Michael D’Orazio, Jared Knight, Scott Harrington

Sarnia goals: Brett Ritchie (2), Nail Yakupov, Kale Kerbashian.

Next: The Knights face the Brampton Battalion on Friday at the John Labatt Centre.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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