In a game that would have thrilled Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd, the London Knights and Kitchener Rangers turned in a wild and crazy 8-6 London win at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Friday.
Goals came in bunches, goalies made big saves and when the final horn sounded, the Knights had extended their lead atop the Western Conference to six points over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Saginaw Spirit. The Greyhounds lost at home to Oshawa on Friday and the Spirit were idle.
Liam Foudy scored twice for London and Alex Formenton and Evan Bouchard each had four-point nights with a goal and three assists apiece.
Kevin Hancock became the 13th player in a London Knight uniform to hit 50 goals and 100 points in a season.
Joseph Raaymakers recorded a career-high 30 wins in a season. He faced 33 shots on the net.
The Knights went 6-0 against Kitchener this season. They outscored the Rangers 31-13 in those games.
London will now head for Hamilton and then Erie to finish the weekend.
The Knights created opportunities early and cashed in on them. With London killing a penalty, Liam Foudy won a race to a puck and scored short-handed to make it 1-0. Just 1:15 later, with the Knights on a power play, Alec Regula scored from in tight and London was up 2-0.
Joseph Garreffa of Kitchener stole a puck in the Knights zone and scored to cut the London lead in half.
Shortly after that, Raaymakers (who made 14 saves in the opening period) dove across his net in a desperate attempt to stop Riley Damiani and made the stop. That led to an Formenton short-handed goal on a breakaway.
Before the end of the first 20 minutes, Kevin Hancock hit 50 goals and 100 points on a pretty feed from Formenton that gave him a no-doubter of a shot.
Many years ago, 4-1 leads felt fairly safe in hockey. Anymore, they can disappear as quickly as three goals in a span of seven minutes and 55 seconds. The Rangers tied the game 4-4 thanks to two goals from Donovan Sebrango and one from Jonathan Yantsis.
The Knights saw that and raised it, scoring three goals of their own in two minutes and 11 seconds.
First, Evan Bouchard split the defence and ripped a shot off the post and in to put London back in front.
Nathan Dunkley slid a low shot past Eric Pfeil to give the Knights a 6-4 lead and then Adam Boqvist made it 7-4 on a power play that saw Bouchard booed by Ranger fans who thought he did a little too much to draw a penalty to Yantsis.
Kitchener made it close again to start the third period on goals by Rickard Hugg and Ryan Stepien that came in the first one minute and 27 seconds.
The goals actually stopped from there for 18 and a half minutes until Liam Foudy put the puck into an empty net with just 3.6 seconds to go to complete the scoring.
The save of the game
A rebound kicked out to the left of the net in the first period and it went right to the stick of Kitchener’s Riley Damiani, who was in a perfect position to shoot and did. Knights goalie Joseph Raaymakers dove soccer-style from one side of the net to the other and somehow kept the puck out.
“I kind of blacked out,” said Raaymakers. “I couldn’t get my edge, so I just dove and it hit the tip of my blocker.”
Seconds later, Formenton raced down the ice on a breakaway and made it 3-1 for London,
Boqvist named Defenceman of the Month
The ice chips have settled on an incredibly busy month of February for the London Knights and Adam Boqvist has come away from 13 games in 26 days with a smile on his face. He has been named Ontario Hockey League Defenceman of the Month for February. The Chicago Blackhawk prospect had six goals and 13 assists for 19 points. He had six multi-point games, passed the 50-point mark on the year and is zeroing in on 20 goals. Chicago selected the native of Falun, Sweden with the eighth pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
The Knights’ 50-goal/100-point club
Kevin Hancock got to 50 goals and 100 points on Friday night in Kitchener. He scored 31 of those goals and added 31 assists with the Owen Sound Attack but became the first player to hit the 50 and 100 marks in a Knights uniform since Christian Dvorak did it in 2015-16. Twelve other players have hit 50 goals and 100 points in the history of the Knights franchise: Dave Simpson, Dino Ciccarelli, Dennis Ververgaert, Dennis Maruk, Dave Lowry, Patrick Kane, Rob Schremp, Dave Bolland, Jason Allison, Reg Thomas, Chris Taylor and Dvorak. Simpson is the all-time single-season leader in points with 155 in 1981-82. Ciccarelli set the single-season record for goals with 72 in 1977-78.
The Knights are back on the road for the rest of the weekend with a pair of 4 o’clock starts on Saturday afternoon in Hamilton and on Sunday afternoon in Erie. London doubled up the Bulldogs 4-2 on February 22. London split a pair of games with the Otters the week before, losing in overtime to Erie on February 15 and then building an 8-1 lead after two periods before winning 8-5. The Otters are attempting to scratch and claw their way to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They sit three points back of Windsor with eight games to go. Hamilton and Peterborough are trying to hold off the Barrie Colts and secure a post-season spot in the Eastern Conference.