Knights co-captains Liam Foudy and Alec Regula led the way offensively on Friday night as London defeated the Soo Greyhounds 4-2 at Budweiser Gardens.
Both players scored one goal and assisted on another in a game that allowed London to hang onto first place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference.
The three teams chasing the Knights for top spot did not make that easy on London. All three played on Friday night and all three won.
The Knights remain one point better than the Kitchener Rangers, two points ahead of the Flint Firebirds and three points up on the Saginaw Spirit as the month of February comes to a close on Saturday.
Ryan Merkley set up the opening goal of the game on a power play with less than a minute remaining in the opening period as he slid a pass into the slot to Jonathan Gruden and two shots later Gruden had it in the back of the Sault Ste. Marie net as he knocked in his own rebound to make it 1-0 London through 20 minutes.
The Greyhounds tied the game 1-1 on rookie Kalvyn Watson’s third of the season as he came down right wing and labeled a high shot into the Knight net 2:52 into the second period.
The scored stayed tied for all of 28 seconds
Liam Foudy of the Knights grabbed a puck in the Greyhounds’ end and snapped it by Nick Malik for his 25th goal of the season to put London ahead 2-1.
Jason Willms’ second goal in two games just 11 seconds into the third period gave the Knights a cushion that they would keep into the final minute when Alec Regula potted a pong-range empty-netter from inside his own blue line and Tye Kartye popped in a very late power play marker with less than five seconds to play to complete the scoring.
Brett Brochu earned his 28th win on the season as he continues to shine in his rookie season. That ties the mark set by Ryan MacDonald in his rookie year in London. The record for wins by a 17-year old in the OHL is 36. That’s how many games Brian Finley won for the Brampton Battalion in 1998-99. Finley was in his second year at the time. John Vanbiesbrouck owns the mark for most wins by a 17-year old OHLer in his first year. He won 31 in 1980-81 when he played in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Knights outshot the Greyhounds 39-28.
London will travel to Erie on Saturday and play the Otters at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Still owning the dot
The London Knights won an astounding 73 per cent of their faceoffs against the Guelph Storm on February 26, going 42-for-57. Knights forward Nathan Dunkley still owns the best percentage in the league at 61.5 per cent among players who have taken over 500 draws this season.
London centre Jason Willms. who got the overtime winner in that game against the Storm, ranks third with a 60.1-per cent success rate. Willms has taken more faceoffs than anyone else in the OHL in 2019-20. Max Grondin of the Peterborough Petes ranks second in faceoff percentage. Billy Moskal of the Knights is 9th.