Knights comeback bid falls short in 6-3 loss to Winterhawks

London Knights Max Domi pokes the puck at Portland Winterhawks goalie Mac Carruth early in their...

London Knights Max Domi pokes the puck at Portland Winterhawks goalie Mac Carruth early in their Memorial Cup game in Saskatoon on Monday.

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:01 AM ET

SASKATOON - Max Domi answered Ty Rattie's highlight-reel sass with a cheeky between-the-legs pass.

The London Knights fought back from three straight Portland goals with three of their own.

It wasn't enough.

This Memorial Cup, already full of top NHL picks, memorable goals and wild momentum swings, will have one extra game – a Thursday tiebreaker – after the Knights lost 6-3 to the Western league champion Winterhawks before 7,575 Monday night at the Credit Union Centre.

All four teams have a 1-1 record. Again.

Until Shawinigan last spring, it never happened in 30 years since the Cup turned into this four-team format.

Now, it's occurred in back-to-back events.

The Knights battled back from an early three-goal hole and tied it early in the third period, but gave up two quick ones 22 seconds apart just five minutes later. Portland's fifth goal spelled the end for London starter Anthony Stolarz, replaced by Jake Patterson.

Now, the OHL champs have a goaltending decision to make heading into Tuesday's date with high-scoring Halifax.

It was London head coach Dale Hunter's first career Cup loss. He's now 5-1 behind the bench.

This was game the Knights should've won. They needed a few more saves and a lot more finish.

The 'Hawks built a second-period cushion, but they haven't really shown much of an inclination here to sit on it.

That's not their style.They watched a two-goal lead turn into a three-goal loss to the Mooseheads on Saturday.

Then, London's light-scoring captain Scott Harrington cued his team's charge. He beat Portland goalie Mac Carruth high, then barked at his teammates to get going.

They listened.

Domi followed with his gorgeous circus pass to Bo Horvat, who whacked it in out of the air on the power play. The Winterhawks didn't help out their cause with a couple of undisciplined penalties.

Horvat scored that one, his 50th of the season counting regular season, playoffs and Cup, but he had a tough two periods around the net.

He hit the post, fired a few more pucks into Carruth's logo and missed the net on a 3-on-2 in the first period.

Portland forward Taylor Leier opened the scoring by tipping a Tyler Wotherspoon point shot past fellow Flyers prospect Stolarz late in the first.

The Knights gave up the opening goal of the tournament to Saskatoon, too.

London had a handful of quality scoring chances to start the game.

Domi and Seth Griffith had an early break, but Domi couldn't catch up to the puck in time and only managed to flip it in Carruth's belly.

Bo Horvat, as the trailer on a 3-on-2, ripped a shot over the net and Alex Broadhurst couldn't beat Carruth, a fellow former Chicago draft pick, in tight.

The 21-year-old Winterhawks goalie looked for a little personal redemption after allowing seven goals, five of them in the second period and three to Halifax star Nathan MacKinnon.

Portland coach Travis Green said thoughts of pulling Carruth in the Mooseheads game never crossed his mind. The goalie wanted to stay in there.

“He's our No. 1 guy and he always has been,” Rattie said. “He's the key to our team. Every championship team needs a goalie like Mac Carruth.”

In their first two trips to the Cup, the Knights finished first in the round-robin standings and went straight to the tournament final.

They need some help now. They have to beat Halifax and hope Saskatoon can knock off Portland Wednesday to go straight to the title game.

If they don't, they can find themselves in the required tiebreaker instead.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/RyanatLFPress

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MEMORIAL CUP

Winterhawks 6, Knights 3

Portland goals: Ty Rattie (2), Taylor Leier, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Derek Pouliot, Chase De Leo

London goals: Scott Harrington, Bo Horvat, Alex Broadhurst

Next: The London Knights (1-1) face the Halifax Mooseheads (1-1) Tuesday night, 8 p.m. (ET) at Credit Union Centre.

 


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