Knights continue to slip

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:59 PM ET

WINDSOR — Eighth place looms.

With London’s heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires Thursday night, the Knights are close to sinking to the bottom of the OHL’s playoff-bound Western Conference teams.

The Guelph Storm, who now feature former Knight Daniel Erlich, are right behind and they have a game in hand.

Fourth place in the conference and home ice in the first round, a longshot to start for the Knights, looks more and more like a distant dream.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kenny Ryan scored with 9:18 left in the third period to propel Windsor to the victory, sending the Knights to an ill-timed three-game slide.

Ryan was left all alone in front of netminder Michael Houser, who gave up four goals for the second straight contest.

The Knights led 3-2 after 40 minutes but couldn’t hold on after Stephen Sanza scored twice in that eventful second period. He’s making a charge at a 30-goal campaign in his first full season.

But Taylor Carnevale banged home a Ryan Ellis rebound early in the third on the game’s first power play attempt to tie it. That got Windsor rolling.

The Knights and Spits played penalty free for the first half. But you knew that wasn’t going to last.

A major scrum in the middle of the second period ended with Windsor forward Zack MacQueen getting the instigator in the whole mess and teammate Derek Lanoue kicked out and suspended for third man into the mix.

Later in the period, London’s Ryan Rupert fought fellow rookie Grant Webermin and Knight Cody Donnay squared off with Jeff Brown after the Spits veteran took exception to a big Donnay open-ice hit.

Donnay split his time between defence and forward.

Long-lost Jake Worrad is finally a Knight again.

Out of the lineup 173 days after blowing out his knee in a Sept. 10 exhibition game against the Plymouth Whalers, the 18-year-old defenceman made his regular-season debut while the Knights are furiously jockeying for playoff positioning.

“It’s very exciting,” the Birr native said. “This is 100% where I want to be. It’s been six months of trying to get back to game action. The three-on-threes at the end of the practice just wasn’t the same.”

Worrad wasn’t surprised to be back in the lineup this season. The timing of his recall, however, caught him off guard.

He just played his first game in six months Sunday in the St. Thomas Stars’ playoff opening double-overtime win against the St. Marys Lincolns. Game 2 of that series isn’t until Friday night, giving the Knights a chance to get him in one day ahead of it.

“It felt good to be back in there,” Worrad said. “I played regular (20 minutes) but in the overtimes, I was out there every other shift, so it ended up being a lot of hockey and in my first game back, it worked out pretty well.

“I know with London, I’m not going to just roll out there and play 40 minutes. They haven’t said anything to me specifically, but I’ve played for the Hunters before and I know what’s expected — solid defence and if the chance to move the puck up the ice is there, then get some speed going and go.”

The Knights needed the extra body at the back end with Mike Moffat, another offensive-minded defenceman, serving the final of his five-game suspension for an elbowing incident at the end of a game in Sudbury.

He’ll be eligible to return Friday in Mississauga. Worrad will be able to play when the Stars have days off or are eliminated in the Junior B loop.

London overager Kyle DeCoste has been cleared to play but he won’t return until next week when his shoulder has been properly strengthened, according to head coach Dale Hunter.

DeCoste should be able to play the final five games of the regular season. That’ll be enough, Hunter said, to get his legs under him and be ready to go.

The London native, acquired at the trade deadline from Belleville, was hurt again in his first period as a Knight after crashing into the boards awkwardly on a hit in Sarnia. He drew an assist and a penalty before leaving that game. “It’s been a long time and I’m really anxious to get back in there,” he said. “I had pretty good chemistry going with (Stephen) Sanza and Colin Martin in that game and I want to see what I can do out there again.”

Hard-working Dylan MacEachern has since replaced him on that shut-down line that struck for three goals in the second against Windsor.

Game glance

Spitfires 4, Knights 3

Windsor goals: Craig Duininck, Tom Kuhnhackl, Taylor Carnevale, Kenny Ryan

London goals: Stephen Sanza (2), Colin Martin

Next: The Knights face old pals Chris DeSousa and Michael D’Orazio Friday night in Mississauga at 7 p.m. It’s televised on Rogers Sportsnet.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ryanpyette


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