Knight fits in with twins

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:55 PM ET

GUELPH — Jared Knight has been playing lately with the Rupert twins, who are together again at last.

The winger loves it.

“I call them the Sedins and I’m the other guy on their line (on the Vancouver Canucks),” the 19-year-old Knight said. “Who is that? (Alex) Burrows. I’m Alex Burrows and they’re the Sedins.

“I think the Sedins are their favourite players.”

Not exactly. They’re not big fans of the Swedish Sedins.

The Rupert boys, Ryan and Matt from Grand Bend, admire and try to mimic the hockey style employed by Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards, the former Kitchener Rangers star.

And right now, the Knights are trying to figure out if they’re going to face Richards’ old OHL club in the first round of the playoffs.

Friday night in Guelph against the head-scratching Storm was just another step toward finding out the identity of that postseason foe.

Stephen Sanza, named captain on Thursday, won’t be the shortest-serving in Knights history — John Tavares sported the C for three games during a win drought two years ago — but the length of his leadership is about to be determined.

And it looks like one of the Knights, who sent away most of their older players in January, or the Storm, who kept their veterans and actually added a few more, will end up eighth place in the Western Conference.

The Knights are constantly vague on potential matchups, but it should be clear by now they would fare better in a series against Owen Sound or Saginaw than Kitchener.

But they know if they put forth efforts like their last one — a six-shot performance in Mississauga last Friday — it doesn’t really matter who they draw.

Were they embarrassed in that 5-0 loss to the Memorial Cup hosts on Rogers Sportsnet TV?

“I don’t know if I’d say that,” Knight said. “It wasn’t good — I’ve had six shots in a game by myself — so six as a team, you don’t see that very often.

“But they’re a good team and they stifled us and shut us down. We had something like (16 games in 27) days. It was a lot.”

The six shots made the Knights the butt of plenty of jokes in the last week.

It’s one of those Ripley Believe It or Not kind of stats.

But the good thing about teenagers is they forget stuff like that pretty quick. They had a week off games to think about it — but instead, chose not to dwell on it.

“I went home,” said Knight, a Battle Creek, Mich., native. “We had an appearance and then I went home on Sunday. (Knights goalie) Michael Houser had some family in Ann Arbor so he dropped me off there and my dad picked me up.

“It was great. I got to sleep in the old bed, see the dog, stuff like that. It was a good recharging.”

They needed it after their frightful February stretch. Now, Dale Hunter’s crew will be well-rested going into the playoffs and except for overager Kyle DeCoste — he suffered another shoulder setback in practice in the last week — they’re relatively healthy.

One big priority this week was to keep them from getting sick. With the Brier taking over their John Labatt Centre ice this week, the Knights worked out at the Western Fair Sports Centre, not necessarily a balmy destination.

“It’s pretty cold in there,” Knight said. “One day, we were doing 3-on-3 scrimmages and our team got knocked out early so we had to sit on the bench in there and my toes were freezing up.

“It wasn’t a lot of fun.”

So they kept some practices to the shorter side. They hope the playoff run doesn’t go the same way.

Houser will have to be top-notch to do any damage against a big-time opponent. But a hot-scoring Knight doesn’t hurt, either.

The Boston Bruins second rounder came into Guelph with just two goals in his previous 14 games. His chemistry with Vladislav Namestnikov has disappeared, prompting the move to play with the Ruperts.

“I don’t think I’ve been quiet,” Knight said. “I’m playing my game and you always want to score a few goals. You just have to keep working hard, making plays and playing good defence.”

Knight scores in bunches but he’s a long shot to get to 30 this season after bagging 36 last year with Nazem Kadri on board.

Unless Namestnikov lights the lamp a few more times the next two weeks, the Knights won’t have one 30-goal man this year.

The Hunters have seen this before from their team that most resembles this one: the 2002-03 Knights didn’t have a 30-goal guy, either.

Ryan Hare led the way with 27 that season. Those Knights beat Windsor in seven games in the first round before falling to Plymouth in another series that went the distance.

If this team follows down that track, it should be an exciting spring.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ryanpyette


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