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OWEN SOUND HANGS ON TO DEFEAT LONDON

Ontario Hockey League
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The London Knights and Owen Sound Attack proved once again that it isn’t a good idea to leave one of their games early to try to get ahead of any traffic on the way home, winning 4-3 on Saturday in Owen Sound.

The first time the teams met, London scored four times in the third period to come back and win 4-1.

This time, the teams combined for five goals and a furious finish that saw the Knights get to within one goal two separate times, and then create chances in the final 30 seconds as they tried to tie the game.

The teams are now 1-1 against one another this season and still have four more meetings.

The Attack improved to 4-1 on their home ice. They are win-less at the moment on the road.

The Knights are 4-3 heading into Guelph on Sunday afternoon.

London played the game without defenceman Alec Regula, who received an automatic two-game suspension when he was assessed an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the third period in Friday’s win over the Sarnia Sting. London’s Will Lochead was assessed an instigator penalty on Saturday with just 31 seconds to go in the game. He will miss Sunday’s game in Guelph and Friday’s game at home to Oshawa.

How the goals were scored

Owen Sound opened the scoring on the power play at 7:34 as Nick Suzuki wheeled down deep into the London zone and dished a pass in front that St. Mary’s native Kaleb Pearson, making his first Ontario Hockey League goal and a 1-0 Attack lead.

The score stayed that way until the final two minutes of the second period, when L.A. Kings draft pick Aidan Dudas managed to get his stick on a puck that had been flipped from the Attack blue line by Trenton Bourque of Owen Sound. The puck not only changed direction, it bounced in front of the London net and found a way in, increasing the Attack lead to 2-0 heading into the third.

Tonio Stranges rang a puck off the crossbar in the first period. At 5:09 of the third, he lifted a rebound over Andrew MacLean, under the crossbar and into the Owen Sound net to cut the Attack lead in half.

Owen Sound responded less than two minutes later as Nolan Seed’s shot from the left point found its way through traffic for his first OHL goal and a 3-1 Attack advantage.

Nathan Dunkley chipped a puck over MacLean from the side of the Owen Sound net with 2:58 remaining to get the Knights within one again, only to have Aidan Dudas score into an empty net at 18:43.

Matvey Guskov’s second goal of the season made it 4-3 with 31 seconds to go.

Bouchard up to three

The Edmonton Oilers can use Evan Bouchard in nine games before they have to make a decision on whether he should continue to be a full-time National Hockey Leaguer or return to the London Knights for one more year of junior. Bouchard, who played his third NHL game for Edmonton on Saturday, is still looking for his first point, but is averaging just over 13 minutes of ice time and is a plus-1.

Storm surge

The Guelph Storm have averaged 4.75 goals per game so far this season — tops in the Ontario Hockey League — and they are doing it with a collective approach. Eight players have scored at least two goals in their first eight games. The Storm have finished 20th, 19th and then 14th overall in their past three seasons. That upward climb should take a big step this season thanks to players like Londoner Isaac Ratcliffe, Coyotes prospect Nate Schnaar and former first overall pick Ryan Merkley, who the Storm have developed through their rebuilding seasons.

Next up for the Knights

Ask anyone who has run the Boston Marathon about Heartbreak Hill, one of the truest tests possible for a runner. You are miles into the race, you’re getting close to the finish line, and then there it is — not a quick, steep incline, but a slow, progressive grade that forces you to push and push.

The OHL equivalent is a third game in two and a half days and it happens to every team more than once during a season. After a 7-6 overtime win on Friday against the Sting and then a 4-3 loss in Owen Sound on Saturday, the Knights will go to Guelph for a 2 p.m. game against the Storm on Sunday. Guelph is what’s known as a heavy team. They have some big bodies who like to lean on you and use their size to wear you down, but they haven’t exactly been laying in wait.

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