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KNIGHTS GROUND FIREBIRDS IN OT

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Luke Evangelista’s backhand found the back of the Firebirds’ net with 54.9 seconds left in overtime to give the London Knights a 4-3 victory in Flint on Saturday night.

The victory stretched London’s winning streak to four games and keeps them within two points of first place overall in a very crowded Western Conference in the Ontario Hockey League where the top five teams are separated by just three points.

London scored the first goal of the game thanks to a nifty three-way passing play that saw the puck go from Stuart Rolofs to Antonio Stranges to Billy Moskal for his fourth goal in five games.

Despite that beginning, the Knights found themselves having to battle back after Flint struck for three goals in a span of two minutes and eight seconds in the second period highlighted by a lacrosse shot goal from Evgeniy Oksentyuk who zoomed behind the London net, curled the puck onto his stick and wrapped it over the shoulder of Knights goalie Dylan Myskiw.

London regrouped and got a second-period goal of their own from Jonathan Gruden that extended his point streak to eight games.

Gruden then tied the game with his second of the night 5:46 into the third period when he fired home a shot after being set up by Evangelista on a 2-on-1.

That set the stage for Evangelista’s heroics in overtime.

“[Josh] Nelson and I kind of scissored as we came into the [offensive] zone,” said Evangelista. “I was able to make a move to get into the slot and then tried a toe-drag around their defenceman and was lucky enough to have it work. I just tried to outwait the goalie and get an opening and was able to out it in.”

Evangelista now has 15 goals in his second season.

The Knights outshot Flint 41-33.

Dylan Myskiw picked up his tenth OHL win in the London net.

Connor Roberts and Ethan Keppen had the other Firebirds goals.

For the second game in a row, minor penalties were scarce. Neither team scored a power-play goal. The Knights had three opportunities on the man advantage and Flint had two.

London will play three games in two and a half days next weekend as they host the Barrie Colts on Jan. 10 and then go to Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie.

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