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Knights remain on the attack

By RYAN PYETTE, The London Free Press

Michael D’Orazio’s face tells you it’s near the end of the OHL regular season.

He has a major league scratch on his nose.

“From my visor scrunching up in Barrie, that’s what happens,” the London Knights veteran defenceman said. “I also lost half my front tooth and this one (he easily popped out one of his eye teeth with his tongue), too.”

But there he was, his nose on fire and his teeth falling out like pinata candy, rushing to the front of the Owen Sound net and scoring a big third-period goal against his former team in another dramatic 4-3 win over the Attack before 2,100 Wednesday night.

D’Orazio tied it up. Chris DeSousa won it with 5:36 to go, both on the power play.

What was D’Orazio, a stay-at-home type defender, doing in front of the Attack net anyway?

“I had good speed,” he said. “I dumped the puck in and we’re on the power play so there’s no sense hanging back. I went after it. Dane Fox was mucking it up real good and he kicked it right to my stick and I put it in.”

That’s why the Knights can wrap up the second seed in the OHL Western Conference with a regulation win at home over Kitchener on Thursday. Because they muck it up real good.

Owen Sound couldn’t afford to lose this game. They’re three points back of Guelph for eighth in the West with three games to go. They didn’t need Joey Hishon to miss much of the final 10 minutes with a misconduct penalty.

“They came hard,” D’Orazio said. “They needed this. But we’re looking at 50 wins and we have to win out the rest of the way. 100 points too. That would be a good accomplishment.”

Fifty wins would be one more than John Tavares and Co. managed last year.

Not bad for a team that traded one of its best players, Phil McRae to Plymouth, and found a way to keep winning, although there’s been the odd glitch. Like Nazem Kadri and two teammates colliding in the neutral zone and all three falling.

“I saw it happen with Team Canada and Corey Perry was involved but there were only two guys,” D’Orazio said. “Three is a first. We’ll get a good laugh at that during video.”

And while they contend for another title, the Knights are laughing all the way to the draft.

They had three alumni in Sunday’s Olympic final in Vancouver: Rick Nash and Perry for Canada and Patrick Kane for the U.S. They were three of the best on the ice. So what’s the new potential Knights pitch to prospects to come to London? “Want to star in an Olympic gold medal game some day, son?”

“I’m so proud of those guys,” said GM Mark Hunter. “I thought Rick played a great all-round game and Pat Kane, not many people know how fast he is but I know what’s he capable of. Did you see him skate back (to deny Sidney Crosby a breakaway chance with three minutes left in the third period)? It’s not like he was chasing down anyone.

“And Corey Perry (who scored Canada’s second goal in the final) just keeps on ticking. People say different things about him, that he’s not this or that but he’s a winner. We won the Memorial Cup (in 2005) because of Corey Perry. Now, we had a very good team, too, but Corey was the leader. He just knows what it takes to win.”

The current Knights watched the gold game in Sault Ste. Marie before facing the Greyhounds. They were a club divided.

“The Canadian and American guys were separated,” said captain Justin Taylor. “We got to see the OT winner. We had a TV in our room and the Soo had it on their big board. Some of us were so excited, we almost fell out of our seats into the aisle. But you’re watching and seeing guys you know out there. It makes it a lot closer. There’s Pat Kane and I’m saying to guys here, ‘We played on the same line.’ ”

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