Sarnia Sting deny London Knights CHL record-tying 25th straight win
MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
|London Knights forward Max Domi (right) tangles with Sarnia Sting defenceman Joshua Chapman at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., Jan. 1, 2013. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency)
LONDON, ONT. - The hockey world is going to hear words it hasn't heard in two months: The London Knights have lost a hockey game.
Two months ago, the Knights left Windsor 6-3 losers.
That was 25 Ontario Hockey League games ago. The Knights hadn't lost since.
They were on the verge of making history but one of their biggest rivals came into the Knights' house and wrecked the party.
The Sarnia Sting defeated the Knights 6-5 in overtime Tuesday in front of 9, 046 at Budweiser Gardens, preventing the Knights from tying the OHL and CHL record for most wins in succession at 25. The Kitchener Rangers in 1983-84 and the 1973 Sorel Eperviers turned that trick.
Several times , the Knights looked home and cooled. They led 3-0 after one period and 5-3 with less than seven minutes to go in the third.
But there was going to be no celebration on this night, a day after the Knights came back in the third period to beat the Sting.
Usually it's the Knights who pull a rabbit out of their hats. Tuesday it was the Sting who refused to lose, especially young forward Nikolay Goldobin. He scored his fourth goal of the game 1:11 into overtime, going in alone and beating Knights goalie Jake Patterson on a backhand. Patterson came in for starter Kevin Bailie when he was pulled after giving up Sarnia's fifth goal late in the third.
It turned into a classic game with a stunning ending.
"It was good hockey and great for the fans," said Sting coach Jacques Beaulieu, a former assistant with the Knights. "Sure, I wanted to beat them. We wanted to end the streak because we had two cracks at it. (Monday) we let one slip on us.
"I wanted to see our team come back with an effort because usually when you lose a game like that you come back and play flat the next game."
It was quiet over on the Knights' side of the rink. The team had made several miraculous escapes during their run.
They also tried to push the streak to the side so it didn't take too much of their attention.
To keep a streak like that going you more than just talent, you need good defence, good goaltending and lots of breaks.
The Sting and all the good stuff that had happened to the Knights, finally caught up to them.
"It just sucks right now, it's definitely hard to swallow," said Knights' Seth Griffith. "At the same time, Friday's going to be a big game for us. We haven't lost in two months. It will be a big test to see how the team reacts. Judging by the character in the room, we're going to be fine."
Griffith said the streak didn't become real until it got closer to the big numbers.
"When it was 15 and stuff we were joking about it," he said. "But as it got closer I think everybody wanted to do it. Within one game of tying it was in our hands . . . that's rough."
The Knights had beaten every team in the OHL during the streak except for three, Saginaw, who they play Friday, Ottawa and Erie.
"They got a great team," Beaulieu said. "Those forwards are deadly. They cycle the puck like pros.
"For sure (it is a confidence builder for the Sting.) These kids are excited. It's like they won an OHL final. They are hooting and hollering. They are happy. Give them credit. They won (24) games in a row. That's (48) points. There's some teams in our league that aren't going to get (48) points. They are a great team. Hats off to them. It was nice that we had the chance to end it."
While it's a tough loss especially with the record so close, it's important to keep things in perspective says Knights' Tyler Ferry.
"It's a regular season game," Ferry said. "You don't win a championship by winning the whole season. You have to win it in April and win it in May. Sure it's tough, guys are upset but it's only one game. We worked really hard to get this far. It sucks we couldn't finish it off but it's only one game. It doesn't win you a championship."
And he said that a sign of a championship team was how they responded to a tough loss.
"It's not how you fall, it's how you get back up after you fall," he said.