May 22, 2012
A lot at stake for Knights, Oil Kings
By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency
SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - In what has been one of the tightest Memorial Cups ever, the tiebreaker game on Thursday is shaping up to be a landmine buried under bad ice.
No one wants to skate anywhere near it.
The OHL's London Knights and WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings each have a chance to avoid it -- and possibly book a free ride into Sunday's final - with a victory Tuesday night at the Centre Bionest.
It's our biggest game of the year, London captain Jarred Tinordi said. They play a lot like us and we had a good day off to get away from the rink and prepare. We know what it means. If we win, we're in the semifinal or maybe even the final and if we lose, we go to the tiebreaker.
They might have to try to win it without rookie forward Josh Anderson, who scored in London's 6-2 loss to Shawinigan Sunday and has rocketed up the NHL draft rankings this season.
He's got a touch of the flu and we don't know here yet if he's going to play, London GM and head coach Mark Hunter said.
The Knights gave Anderson his own hotel room in Trois-Rivieres, Que., to keep him away from his teammates while he recovered.
If the 18-year-old from Burlington, Ont., can't play, he is likely to be replaced by rookie first-rounder Bo Horvat, who sat out Sunday's defeat to make room for speedy NHL prospect Andreas Athanasiou.
Athanasiou scored the other goal in Sunday's defeat, the first Cup loss in London's franchise history after a 5-0 start.
Edmonton will have the last line change as designated home team. While head coach Derek Laxdal prefers to roll all four forward trios, he's looking at matching overager and defensive forward Rhett Rachinski against one of London's best units - likely the Vladislav Namestnikov, Seth Griffith and Tyler Ferry combo.
(Rachinski's) been good at it for us all year, Laxdal said, and he's capable of scoring, too.
The Knights, who have surrendered shorthanded goals in their two previous Cup games, will have to contend with an impressive-looking Edmonton power play.
Oil Kings forward and leading point-getter Michael St. Croix is agile and will test London's ability to block shots.
He's a sneaky player, London world junior defenceman Scott Harrington said.
There will be seven sons of former NHLers in this game - Edmonton's St. Croix, Henrik Samuelsson, Griffin Reinhart and Keegan Lowe and London's Tinordi, Max Domi and Vladislav Namestnikov.
Add Knights assistant coach Dylan Hunter's (dad Dale) to the list.
Will Laxdal, to fire up his team, show the Oil Kings the old clip of Max Domi's dad Tie knocking out Samuelsson's dad Ulf with a punch during their NHL days?
No, he said.