Knights stand by Rupert as he awaits his fate
Ryan Pyette, QMI Agency
|Ryan Rupert skates during practice at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario on November 14, 2011. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI AGENCY)
LONDON, ONT. - Ryan Rupert is still awaiting his fate for slashing Soo Greyhounds forward Nick Cousins on Friday night.
But his London Knights teammates are united in disgust for the taunting Sault Ste. Marie star, whom they blame for Rupert's response, multiple fights and a near brawl after the 'Hounds' 4-3 win at the John Labatt Centre.
"I'm not afraid to say it was a gutless act on Cousins' part," Knights tough guy Kyle Flemington said. "He skated right up to Ryan and bumped him. He was looking for something to happen. If he just skated to their goalie to celebrate, nothing would've happened and both teams would've left the ice.
"I have respect for them (the Greyhounds) as an organization and he (Cousins) is a really good player, but you can't respect someone who does that."
On the ice Monday, London defenceman Tommy Hughes was felled by a "slash" from Rupert, who dropped his gloves and pretended to punch his teammate, mimicking what happened on Friday.
"Tommy didn't see what happened and I was showing him," Rupert said. "We were play fighting at the end of practice."
London head coach Dale Hunter pointed to Cousins' recent history of stirring up trouble.
"He started something in Kitchener, too," Hunter said. "The kid (Cousins) skated toward (Rupert), bumped him and was laughing after it. The league dealt with it and gave him two games for inciting."
Hunter also noted one of his former players - Oshawa's Christian Thomas - has just finished a 10-game suspension for a stick incident.
"Stumpy hit the guy in the head and (Rupert) got him on the pants," Hunter said. "He's going to get something. Obviously, we hope it's smaller . . . It's up to (OHL commissioner) Dave Branch and (vice-president) Ted Baker to decide (suspension) and we will respect their decision."
Whatever the number, Flemington will be able to address it with his teammate. On the night of the incident, he returned to the lineup after a 15-game suspension for head checking. "I know what it's like because I just went through it," the veteran from Parkhill said. "Ryan's a young kid in the league and it's not an easy thing. I'm going to talk to him about it. You just have to stay positive and move forward."
London captain Jarred Tinordi was impressed how the Knights shook off suspensions to four key players - Scott Harrington, Jared Knight and Ryan and Matt Rupert - to beat the Erie Otters 4-1 Saturday night. They'll try to do the same Friday against Plymouth.
"I thought we came to the rink Saturday refocused and ready to go," Tinordi said. "Guys who haven't played as much did the job. There's a lot of character on this team. It was an emotional loss on Friday and it was quiet in the room afterwards. Everyone knows we're a good team this year and no one in here wants to lose any games, but there are going to be some along the way. It's how you bounce back."
The Knights have not lose two in a row this season. They have long memories, too. Early in the Erie game, Flemington fought Otters tough guy Johnny McGuire, who had knocked Tinordi out of the lineup for a couple of weeks with an eye injury. Tinordi is still wearing a special shield to protect his face.
"It was awesome of Kyle," Tinordi said. "It was a good fight, we're really good friends and I know he had that one on his calendar for a while."
They play the Greyhounds again Jan. 4 and 15, both in Sault Ste. Marie. The short-handed Greyhounds, plagued by injury, lost 8-0 in Plymouth Saturday and 8-0 in Windsor Sunday.
"They were missing guys before the suspensions," Hunter said. "We had four guys out, but we were able to get in Chase Hatcher, who played in his first OHL game and played well."