SUN Hockey Pool

Schremp rejoins Knights

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

The London Knights got better in a hurry yesterday.

The Edmonton Oilers sent centre Rob Schremp back to the OHL and he will be in the lineup Friday when the Knights play the Barrie Colts at the John Labatt Centre.

Schremp, an Oilers first-round pick and 25th overall in the 2004 NHL draft, was one of the last cuts from the Oilers.

He had a strong camp and there was speculation he would make the team as a power-play specialist.

There was great relief in London at the news.

But for Schremp, 19, not making the Oilers was difficult, although if he had to come back, London is a place he "loves."

His voice betrayed his disappointment.

"I really thought I had a chance to stick here, at least for 10 games," he said from Edmonton.

"It was a tough decision, but I just have to get bigger, quicker and stronger."

He might also have been fighting the numbers game. The Oilers already had 23 players signed, many on one-way contracts.

Schremp scored 41 goals and added 49 assists for the Memorial Cup champions last season. With the return on the weekend of Dylan Hunter and goalie Adam Dennis from Buffalo, the Knights have filled some sizable holes.

When asked what Schremp's return would mean to the power play, Knights coach Dale Hunter was to the point.

"About two minutes," said Hunter. "Him, David (Bolland) and Dylan. With the three of them, you have some pretty top-end kids."

The Knights won their first game of the season on Sunday, 6-2 over the Soo Greyhounds, after losing four straight.

Their power play was 2-for-10 on Sunday. Their power play last season was one of the more feared in the league.

With Schremp's return, the power play should once more be a force and adding another veteran won't hurt the team.

"The veterans know what it takes to win," Schremp said. "In the first few games, the rookies didn't have the veterans there to show them the ropes. But with some of us back now, it's going to give them some confidence and it's going to be a little different."

Different on the ice and in the stands.

"He's a talent," said GM Mark Hunter. "Let's face it, he's also a fan favourite. They love to watch him play. And why not? He'll come back and the fans will be cheering for him. He doesn't want to disappoint anybody so he'll score goals and make plays, which is what he does best."

While the Knights are thrilled Schremp is returning, there is always the question of how a young player who came so close to making the NHL, will react to being sent back to junior hockey.

"Everyone wants to play in the NHL," said Mark Hunter. "Hopefully, we can make him better. Everyone needs to get better and Robbie does, too."

Dale Hunter, who has had his run-ins with Schremp in the past knows exactly what to expect.

"He'll come back, play hard and be back up there next year," said Hunter. "Just like Dylan, they played with the pros and now they know what they have to do."

With Schremp's return, the Knights have all the players they expected would be back. Dylan Hunter, Adam Dennis, Frank Rediker and Kelly Thomson are four overage players and teams are only allowed to play three. Mark Hunter is working on a deal to move one. Thomson is the prime candidate.

The win on the weekend, their first in five games, restored some of the confidence that was leaking out of the JLC.

Not that Dale Hunter was worried.

"We were in every game," said Hunter. "The only one we really played badly in was the loss (8-1) in Owen Sound. We're getting better defensive zone coverage.

Schremp is expected to be back in London today.


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