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Knights vs Fronts – Rematch!

February 25, 2012

Friday night’s OHL game between the Kingston Frontenacs and the London Knights was a rematch of the January 13th matchup that saw the OHL’s Western Conference leaders lose to the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers. On a night that was supposed to be the home opening showcase for Mark Hunter’s prize acquisitions Greg McKegg and Austin Watson; ex-Knight Igor Bobkov stole the show, stopping 49 of 50 Knights’ shots and leading the Fronts to a 4-1 upset win at the John Labatt Centre.

Up to that point McKegg had bagged 4 pts (2G, 2A) in two games as a Knight and Watson had yet to don a Knights jersey. Instead of a walkover in which the Knights’ stars blew away the opposition, the home crowd was left wondering what these new additions were bringing to the table. 24 February was an entirely different game, with McKegg and Watson having found their roles for the most part and the hometown fans knowing exactly who they are.

London struck quickly with two quick goals in 11 seconds to open the scoring in the first period, with 2 more in another 30 second flurry in the second period, before Kingston managed to fight back.  The score was 6-1 in the third when a powerplay goal by Cody Alcock started a flood of 5 goals in just over three minutes with the third Frontenacs marker sandwiched between 4 Knights goals against a beleaguered Bobkov.

The point differential between the two teams is over double (87-42) and tonight it showed. Every forward in the lineup had at least one point, led by veteran sniper, Vladislav Namestnikov, with 2G and 3 assists.  The tricky Russian seems to have re-discovered his scoring touch after a cold spell which started when he was injured prior to the World Junior Championships.  Watson (1G, 1A) and McKegg (1G, 2A) chipped in and were supported by youngsters Max Domi , making his first appearance on Kingston ice after refusing to report and being traded to London, and Olli Maatta with two goals each in the 10-3 whitewashing.  With the exception of a couple of uncharacteristically weak goals on the part of stalwart Michael Houser, the Knights showed off all the skill and determination that has them sitting atop the CHL rankings.

With the game a rout, however, things turned nasty when Ryan Rupert appeared to have (in the Cogeco commentators’ opinions) ‘blindsided’ Nathan Cull.   The melee led to 4 fighting majors, 3 game misconducts and a 5 minute power play for Kingston due to the Rupert hit.   Having viewed the hit several times, while it does appear that he delivered a check to a vulnerable opponent (he was in that no-fly zone about 3 feet from the boards), it did not target the head as the principle point of contact, nor was the player facing the boards.  Hopefully the league will not assess supplementary discipline   simply due to the reputation of the player involved but for hit itself.

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