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Game 2: London Knights 3 at Windsor Spitfires 2

March 26, 2012

Having been shutout in the first game of the series, Windsor’s strategy for game two wasn’t a mystery.  Despite working hard, the Spitfires allowed the faster, skilled Knights to play their game and found themselves out-shot and out-chanced by a wide margin. London has one of the top stoppers in the league in Michael Houser, so a game of minimal chances will not work in the opposition’s favour.  Knowing this, the Knights expected the Spits to come out ‘guns ablazing.’

Windsor has always been a tough building to play in, and this game was no different. The crowd was loud and highly charged for their first taste of playoff hockey.  Matt Rupert, never one to back away from a hit or in this case, a fight – took on Chris Marchese at 3:57 of the first. Marchese took exception to Rupert’s hit on Jordan Malletta, but he lost out with an instigator and misconduct, giving the Knights both a power-play and the momentum.

London would pressure Jaroslav Pavelka, but couldn’t find the back of the net.  It looked like that PP would come back to haunt them when Windsor finally scored just after the first of three straight power-plays expired. That energized the Spitfires and they scored on their second power-play and took a 2-0 lead into the second period on the strength of Nick Czinder’s two goals..

Entering the playoffs, the Knights had been in something of a scoring slump. Their top snipers had slowed down considerably and they were going to have to ramp it up during the playoffs if London was to have a long run.  Vladislav Namestnikov and Jared Knight picked up goals on Friday, and Sunday, their leading scorer arrived with a bang. The Knights took over when Seth Griffith  scored two power-play goals late in second to tie the game up when Windsor took four straight penalties.

The third period was essentially an overtime period as the teams tried to tighten up the defence, but London took two early penalties that could easily have tilted the momentum again. Houser and the Knights toughed it out and paved the way for Austin Watson to be the comeback hero. The former Spitfire popped in the game-winner, his first of the playoffs, just before the half-way point of the third.  For the Knights, an uplifting win – for the Spitfires a disappointing loss in a game they appeared to have in hand.

The teams head back to London for game 3 on Monday night. All the key players on the London side appear to have found their games.  Houser, Griffith, Watson, Tinordi, Harrington and Namestnikov – the veteran Knights are doing their part. Greg McKegg has yet to hit the twine himself, but has a helper and a fight. They’ve received secondary scoring and defensive support.  I  believe that the while the Knights can play better, so can the Spits. We haven’t seen the best of Windsor yet, so London had better not ease up on the pedal again.

Notes:  Windsor’s tough guy Ty Bilcke, injured near the end of game 1 is out for the remainder of the season with a broken fibula.

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