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TKACHUK NETS HAT-TRICK IN 9-4 VICTORY

Matthew Tkachuk led the way with a hat trick as the London Knights walloped the Steelheads 9-4 in Mississauga on Sunday afternoon.

The team had the potential for goals.  The Steelheads lead the Eastern Conference in goals for and the Knights lead the entire OHL, averaging just over five goals per game.

It took just over four minutes for Mississauga to open the scoring as Stephen Gibson blasted a point shot past a stickless Tyler Parsons.  The Knights goalie had lost his stick in a minor collision in front of the London net just moments before.

The Knights came back with three straight goals of their own.  Aaron Berisha tied the game on a shot by Victor Mete that snuck  through Steelheads’ goalie, Jack Flinn.  Berisha got enough of a whack at it that it dropped across the goal line to tie the game 1-1.  Mitch Marner then fed Christian Dvorak in full flight in centre ice and he blew through the defence and went to his backhand, beating Flinn for the Knights’ first lead of the game.

Just 58 seconds later, London’s Chris Martenet wired a pass from blue line to blue line to Matthew Tkachuk and he zoomed in on goal, only to have his feet taken out.  As the referee’s arm went into the air, Tkachuk got his stick on the puck as he was falling over and was able to flip it over Flinn for a 3-1 Knights’ advantage.

The Steelheads cut London’s lead to 3-2 on Gibson’s second of the game as he got another point shot away and it deflected off a Knight player and into the net.

In the second period, Mississauga tied the game as a centering pass hit Mike McLeod in the foot and slid inside the post.

That seemed to spark another offensive spurt from the Knights as they score another three goals, this time in 3:47.

Victor Mete walked in off the right point and snapped a puck into the top corner on the power play to put London up by a goal again.

Tkachuk got his second of the game on a man advantage as he fired a puck into an open side after a feed from J.J. Piccinich.

Off the faceoff, Cliff Pu got to a puck and flew in across the blue line.  He attempted to pass the puck to Max Jones going to the net, but the puck hit Flinn and went in and London was ahead 6-3.

Owen Tippet grabbed a puck in the London end and made it 6-4 before the second period came to an end.

Also before the end of the second, Thomas Lattavo threw a cross check/butt end into the face of Marner as he skated across the Mississauga blue line.  Lattavo was assessed a two minute minor on the play, but it had the Knights looking for offensive revenge in the third and they got it.

All three goals came on the power play, courtesy of J.J. Piccinich, Aaron Berisha and Matthew Tkachuk, who completed his first OHL hat trick.

The game featured the top power play unit in the league against the OHL’s top penalty kill and the power play won out.

London was 6-for-8 with the man advantage and outshot the Steelheads 51-34.

The Knights will host Owen Sound on Friday in the first game of a home-and-home.  Game time is 7:30.  Broadcast time on NewsTalk 1290 CJBK is 6:30.

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