London Knights' Bo Horvat force to be reckoned with

(Free Press file photo)

(Free Press file photo)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:54 PM ET

SASKATOON - Lukas Sutter is what you would call “country strong.”

Even the hard-nosed 19-year-old Saskatoon Blades centre was impressed by the raw power possessed by London Knights' second-year draw man Bo Horvat in the faceoff circle this week.

“He's a very good centreman for his age,” Sutter said. “I was surprised how quick he was and for a 17-year-old kid (Horvat just turned 18 this season) who's a good player, he was good in the dot. When I was 17-years-old, I certainly wasn't going in the faceoff dot with kids who were 19 and beating them like that.

“He's a helluva centreman, for sure.”

The soon-to-be NHL first rounder from Rodney's strength is, well, his strength. The Knights call the 6-foot, 205-pounder the 'Ox'.

“Even when he shakes your hand, he's got big ol' mitts on him,” London assistant coach Dylan Hunter said. “He has a heavy shot. It's a natural thing he's got. Sometimes, you forget his age. It's tough to knock him off the puck. It's crazy to see at 17 because you usually grow into that muscle and he's already got that strength.

“The older he gets, he's just going to get stronger and it bodes him well for him at the next level.”

The OHL champs want to control the puck against Portland Monday night. That starts in the circle.

“You don't focus on the (other centre's) age,” Horvat said. “You do whatever you can to win that draw. You want to know what you're up against and their tendencies, to see if they change it up. I take a lot of pride in my draws and you want to win every single one you can.”

Horvat will be assigned to slow down the Winterhawks' productive top line of Ty Rattie, Nicolas Petan and Brendan Leipsic – all 350 points worth of them. On Tuesday, he will be in the face of Halifax's Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

“I've been doing the shutdown role all year,” Horvat said. “It's something I like to do. I thought we did a good job of cycling the puck down low this season. If it's been working all year, we've got to keep trying it.

“We do a really good trap that we work on. We sit back and wait for our opportunities. Good defence leads to great offence.”

In the OHL final, Horvat stripped Barrie star Mark Scheifele and scored a shorthanded goal. On Friday, he stole the puck from Saskatoon veteran d-man Duncan Siemens to set up Seth Griffith's Cup tally.

“Last game, he made a great play,” London head coach Dale Hunter said. “We rely on him a lot. He's a strong man. He's a big guy and he knows how to play.”

 

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/RyanatLFPress


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