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Game 3: Windsor Spitfires 2 at London Knights 3; Knights lead Series 3-0

March 27, 2012

Early in the season, Mark Hunter said that a key to success in the playoffs would be the performance of his special teams – specifically the power play.  With this concept in mind, he added Austin Watson and Greg McKegg at the trade deadline. The problem being, that the power play didn’t really improve as much as I’m sure he had hoped. The Knights ended the season on a goal scoring slump and around 6th in power play success. Not good enough for a team hoping to head to the Memorial Cup.

While London would score a power play goal in Game 1, courtesy of Jared Knight, it was Game 3 where the special teams really came into play.  A 3-2 win by the Knights where four of the five goals for both teams were scored on the power play simply emphasized Hunter’s earlier statement.   Game 2’s hero, Seth Griffith, whose two PP goals drew London back into a tie and gave ex-Spitfire Watson the chance to steal the game – was back at it in Game 3.  Two more PP goals paced the Knights to a second straight 3-2 victory and a 3-0 lead in the series.

Game 4 will be back at Windsor on Thursday night and the Spitfires are not expected to fall easily.  Game 3 was a much more even contest than either of the first two games and after a miscue by Michael Houser to give them a quick power play goal at the beginning of the third period, Windsor applied most of the pressure. If it were not for the quick hand of defenceman Brett Cook, the outcome may have been different. Sliding back into the net in an attempt to thwart the initial shot, he swiped the puck away from the goal-line to save the potential tying goal.

Courtesy of LondonKnights.comDespite furious pressure from the Spitfires, including a zinger off the post that hit Houser in the back and he was fortunate to not knock into his own net, the Knights prevailed.  Although the stars of the game were announced as Griffith, Olli Maatta and Jaroslav Pavelka (who has been a star in every game), I think a star could have been given to Watson.  Throughout the game, despite not scoring, he was a threat each time he was on the ice. He broke up several outlet passes in the offensive zone, gaining a short break to the net on one and two or three chances at the empty net towards the end of the game.  His overall game is certainly why Windsor coach Bob Boughner says he’s the kind of guy you win with.

Courtesy of LondonKnights.comA last note – Vladislav Namestnikov plastering Jordan Maletta into the boards is another cue that his game is coming back together.  Whether its been the various injuries or missing the World Jr. Championships, the flashy Vlad just doesn’t seem to have been here this season.  There has been spotty evidence of the skill and grit he showed all last season, when he was both a threat and a nuisance every time he was on the ice. In this series he has scored the highlight reel goal, threaded the skillful pass and thrown the thundering check.  Bring it on Vladdy – Knights’ fans are glad to see you back on track!

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