Knights book ticket to Memorial Cup semi

London Knights players celebrate their victory against the Edmonton Oil Kings after the third...

London Knights players celebrate their victory against the Edmonton Oil Kings after the third period of their round-robin Memorial Cup game in Shawinigan, Quebec, May 22, 2012. (REUTERS)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:27 PM ET

SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - Greg McKegg, the sniper, is back.

The London Knights managed to win two playoff rounds, including the OHL final, without their hired gun scoring a single goal.

They no longer have to fret about the same thing at this Memorial Cup.

The 19-year-old from St. Thomas, a former 49-goal gunner in Erie, scored his first one since April 11 in Saginaw, burying a vital second-period insurance tally in a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings before 3,955 Tuesday night at Centre Bionest.

It's been a long time, but I never got down, the Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick said. Sure, there were some missed chances and rehab on the shoulder (he missed the conference final against Kitchener) was tough, but you have to stay positive.

There are other things you can do to help the team.

Still, he picked a good time to wander out from the goal-scoring desert.

London booked its berth in the Cup semifinal on Friday, but will gain a free pass to Sunday's championship final if Saint John knocks off host Shawinigan Wednesday night.

We've put ourselves in a good spot, McKegg said. We have to wait to see what happens.

The Knights weren't waiting around for their big pre-trade deadline pickup to light the lamp again.

We don't say to him, 'Hey Kegger, you have to get a goal,' Knights forward Austin Watson said. We're supportive of each other. He's been one of our best players here. He's great on the forecheck and he's been our best faceoff guy, especially from that left side. He's contributing in other ways, but at the same time, it was good to see him get one there.

The Oil Kings, of course, disagree.

McKegg's goal came after a tired-looking Edmonton, looking for an equalizer, rattled a puck off the post that deflected off London goalie Michael Houser's blocker and back down the ice, where the Knights converted for an insurmountable lead.

That was a tough one, Edmonton captain Mark Pysyk mused. You come that close to tying it and they go the other way and score and all of a sudden, you're down two.

The Knights know the feeling.

It happened to them on Sunday against Shawinigan after Jared Knight smoked the puck off the crossbar and the Cataractes raced back to create a two-goal cushion.

You don't think about it in the heat of the moment, McKegg said. "But when you're back on the bench, you start to remember what happened and it's a nice revenge for us.

A lot of things added up to make it a special London evening.

Rookie first-rounder Bo Horvat returned to the lineup with Josh Anderson battling the flu, and scored against Edmonton's No. 1 forward trio led by Michael St. Croix.

That's not the young guys' job to worry about who they're playing against, Watson said. They're just supposed to go out there and make things happen, cycle the puck and play good defence.

Veteran overager Colin Martin dressed for the first time in 75 days, replacing Kevin Raine on the blue line, and contributed.

The Knights didn't surrender a power-play goal or a shorthanded one.

Watson might have reached his summit of extreme shot-blocking.

In the third, the former Cup winner with Windsor took a point blast right between his shoulder blades. He shook it off and salted away the game with an empty-netter.

I turned because I didn't want to get hit in the face, he said. It was a huge win. We're going to take our rest here and see when we play next.

The only London concern surrounds top-notch veteran Vladislav Namestnikov. He is taking some heat for a massive first-period hit on big Edmonton forward Klarc Wilson.

Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal called it predatory. He expects it to be reviewed.

His Oil Kings will have to rewind and, starting with the Thursday tie-breaker, try to play through everyone else again.

McKegg took the long road to the most important goal of his junior career.

It might end up making for the shortest path to the Cup final.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RyanatLFPress

2012 MEMORIAL CUP

London 4, Edmonton 1

Knights goals: Ryan Rupert, Bo Horvat, Greg McKegg, Austin Watson

Edmonton goal: Keegan Lowe

Next: The two Quebec league foes Saint John and Shawinigan complete the round-robin schedule Wednesday night at 7 p.m.


Photos