Knights' Night: Knights-Spitfires first round series not disappointing

Games one and two between the London Knights and Windsor Spitfires have had just about ev­erything a hockey fan could want.

Goals, fights, end-to-end play, you name it. It was all showcased at Budweiser Gardens March 25 weekend.

The first game of the series set the tone, with an abundance of penalty minutes on both sides. It didn’t take long for both teams to leave it all on the ice.

After opening up a 2-1 lead on goals from defensemen Victor Mete and Olli Juolevi, the Spitfires roared back, scoring two of their own to get themselves a 3-2 lead early in the third.

Mitchell Stephens saved some magic for the final moments of the game, tying it up with just 2:09 re­maining on the clock.

That was as close as the Knights would get.

With nothing else happening in the final minutes of play, the Knights and Spitfires headed to overtime. For the first 15 minutes of the extra frame, both teams ex­changed great chances, with noth­ing to show for it.

But all it took was an offensive zone faceoff for the Spitfires. On a win from draft prospect Gabriel Vilardi, co-captain Jeremiah Ad­dison fired a low wrister that beat Tyler Parsons.

That goal gave the Windsor Spit­fires a 4-3 victory, and a 1-0 lead in the series.

It was still early, but the Knights were calling game two at home a “must win.”

However, it was rough play that dominated the opening frame of the second tilt.

There were two fights before the game was 10 minutes old. Adri­an Carbonara dropped the gloves with Hayden McCool, before Cole Tymkin squared up with Cristiano DiGiacinto just seven seconds lat­er.

The Knights didn’t let the ag­gressive play take them away from their game plan, though. Goals from Cliff Pu and Juolevi gave London a 2-0 lead in the second period, and energized an already loud crowd at Budweiser Gardens.

But, like game one, the Knights couldn’t hold the lead. The Spit­fires scored two goals just two and a half minutes apart to tie the game. First, it was Aaron Luchuk scoring his third goal of the series, before defenseman Mikhail Ser­gachev tied it on the power play.

Unlike game one, the Knights didn’t back down from a tough Spitfires offence. Instead, they took the play to Windsor, scoring three goals in the third to win the game.

Stephens was the hero again for London, scoring the game winner halfway through the third frame. Max Jones scored two empty net­ters to seal the victory.

After the game, Windsor coach Rocky Thompson was not happy with the Knights. Not only did he accuse the Knights of diving, he said “they invented it here”.

Just another spark to add to the raging fire that is this series.

On March 28, coach Thompson expected it to be war against the Knights for game three. The Spit­fires ended up taking the game 3-1 and going up 2-1 in the best of sev­en series.

Game four will be played on March 30 in Windsor, before head­ing back to Budweiser Gardens in London for a fifth game on the 31.

Only three games in, and this series has already proven to be the most exciting of the OHL playoffs thus far. Regardless of the out­come, it’s clear that both teams are leaving it all on the ice.

It’s disappointing that one of these squads will be out in the first round, with both teams poised to make a long playoff run.

The Knights need to continue to play between the whistles, and block out the extracurriculars, if they want it to be them.