The London Knights have been one of the top faceoff teams in the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20.
That paid off in a large way twice on Friday night in a 3-1 London victory over the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs.
Connor McMichael and Luke Evangelista both scored on bang-bang plays right off faceoffs in the Bulldogs zone, giving the Knights their 10th win in their last 11 games.
Overall, London was 44-23 in the faceoff circle against the Bulldogs.
Among players who have taken at least 400 draws this season, there are four Knights in the top eight including Nathan Dunkley, who sits at the top of the list.
Jonathan Gruden scored both goals that London scored away from faceoffs to give him 20 on the season
Bradey Johnson picked up the lone goal for the Bulldogs.
Brett Brochu made 35 saves in goal for London to earn his 19th victory of the year. Zachary Roy faced 48 shots in net for Hamilton. Nineteen of those came in the third period.
McMichael ended the game with a goal and an assist against his old team
Dale Hunter was honoured with a standing ovation in the first period by the Budweiser Gardens crowd for his 800th victory. The cheers brought a smile and a couple of waves from Hunter on the Knights bench.
The Knights will play the Guelph Storm on Sunday afternoon at Budweiser Gardens as they pull on their “Spider-Knight” jerseys for Superhero Day.
How the goals were scored
Jonathan Gruden took a slick pass from Kirill Steklov just 2:28 into the opening period and wristed a hard shot past Zachary Roy for a 1-0 London lead. Gruden’s father Jon Gruden coached the Bulldogs to an Ontario Hockey League championship and a Memorial Cup in 2018. Jonathan Gruden scored the first two goals of his OHL career against his dad’s old team in September in Hamilton.
Connor McMichael gave London a 2-0 lead as he ripped a shot high into the Bulldogs net with just under three minutes remaining in the opening period. The goal stretched McMichael’s point streak to nine games.
Bradey Johnson scored the only goal of the second period as he banged in his own rebound at the 15:16 mark.
Luke Evangelista squeezed a puck through Roy off a faceoff in the Hamilton end just 1:46 into the third period.
Gruden finished the scoring with an unassisted empty-netter with just under 10 seconds left.