Cole Tymkin scored twice and Billy Moskal and Connor McMichael each had three points as the London Knights began the weekend with a 6-2 victory over the Flint Firebirds at Budweiser Gardens.
The victory acted as a cherry on top of a three-scoop sundae kind of a day where news of Alex Formenton and Evan Bouchard’s return to the Knights percolated through London. Neither Bouchard nor Formenton played, but both are expected to see action this weekend. The Knights also played without defenceman Adam Boqvist, who is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.
The Firebirds are still looking for a little bit of good news. They have yet to win a game in 2018-19. Their record now sits at 0-15-1. After earning their first point on Oct. 27, Flint has dropped three straight games and will face the top team in the Ontario Hockey League standings, the Ottawa 67’s at home on Saturday afternoon.
The Knights went into Friday’s game with the lowest games played total in the OHL and they will make up some ground the rest of the weekend as they face two mid-west division opponents in Owen Sound on Saturday and then in Kitchener on Sunday afternoon.
How the goals were scored
For the third home game in a row, the Knights grabbed a 1-0 lead. It came late in the first period as Nathan Dunkley brought the puck across the Flint blue line, got the puck to Connor McMichael and then got it back in front where he chipped a shot high over Luke Cavallin.
The Firebirds tied the game 1:44 into the second period as Dallas Stars draft pick Ty Dellandrea poked in a pass from former Knight Vladislav Kolyachonok to make it 1-1.
Antonio Stranges put London back in front with a backhand shot that beat Cavallin at 5:09 and then Cole Tymkin got the eventual game-winner and the first of his two on the night as he batted the puck out of the air and into the net to make it 3-1.
In the third period, Flint scored to get within a goal when a puck bounced by Joseph Raaymakers and into the London net. Eric Uba was given credit.
Just 40 seconds later, Tymkin gave the Knights their breathing room back with his eighth goal of the season and then Dalton Duhart and Connor McMichael completed the scoring. McMichael became the first London player to hit double-digits in goals with his tenth. The Ajax native ended the game with a goal and two assists and was a plus-4.
Back and representing the OHL
Within a span of roughly 12 hours, the Ottawa Senators assigned forward Alex Formenton to London and the Edmonton Oilers confirmed that they were doing the same with defenceman Evan Bouchard. Both will suit up for the Knights before the end of the weekend, but both are going to be wearing additional uniforms over the next week or so. The annual Canada-Russia series begins out west in Vancouver and Kamloops on Nov. 5 and 6 and then it will shift east and both Bouchard and Formenton have been added to the Team OHL roster. Bouchard will play on Thursday, Nov. 8 in Sarnia. Formenton will play for Team OHL on Monday, Nov. 12 in Oshawa.
The Canada-Russia series is an opportunity for players to showcase themselves one final time ahead of the unveiling of final selection camps for the World Junior Hockey Championship. Formenton helped Canada to win Gold last year in Buffalo.
Getting the first goal
Every team talks about how important the first goal is in any game. The Knights are lending that line a whole lot of proof. London is unbeaten in regulation in their last five games and they have opened the scoring in four of those games. According to hockey-graphs.com, the team that scores first wins 67 percent of the time.
Under-17s getting underway
The combination of Quispamsis and Saint John, New Brunswick, are playing host to many of the world’s top 16-year-old hockey players at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. The round robin schedule gets going Saturday as Finland meets Sweden and Canada Red takes on Russia. Canada’s other two entries, White and Black face off on Sunday. Knights assistant coach Dylan Hunter, Knights forward Luke Evangelista and former London Knight Brett Gibson are all a part of Team White. The Czech Republic and the United States also have teams in the tournament, which will run all the way to the Gold medal and Bronze medal games on Saturday, Nov. 10.
The Knights are on the road for the rest of the weekend. They will visit Owen Sound on Saturday night. The teams have split the two games they have played against each other this season. London beat the Attack 4-1 at Budweiser Gardens on Oct. 5 and fell just short of tying the game at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in a 4-3 defeat on Oct. 13. London got to within a goal on three separate occasions in that game, but could not find a goal to tie it.
The pre-game show gets going at 7 p.m. on Saturday from Owen Sound on 980 CFPL, at 980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
London will finish the weekend with a game in Kitchener on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.