Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Knights Face Largely Unfamiliar Foe in Colts as They Try for 2nd Straight OHL Title

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Knights Face Largely Unfamiliar Foe in Colts as They Try for 2nd Straight OHL Title

Article excerpt

Colts, Knights unfamiliar opponents in OHL final

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LONDON, Ont. - The London Knights face a largely unfamiliar foe as they try to repeat as Ontario Hockey League champions.

London hosts the Barrie Colts on Friday in the opening game of the best-of-seven OHL final. The two teams only faced off twice in the regular season, and both rosters went through significant changes since their last meeting.

The Knights won both encounters with the Colts, but the games were hard-fought. London needed a shootout for a 3-2 win in Barrie on Oct. 20 before winning in London 5-3 in late November.

"Both games were really close and both teams have made changes since then, especially at the deadline," said Colts defenceman Ryan O'Connor via a telephone conference on Wednesday.

The Knights, for example added goaltender Anthony Stolarz in early January. The Philadelphia Flyers' second-round pick in 2012 went 13-5 with a 2.29 goals-against average to close the season. He has improved his numbers in the playoffs, posting a GAA of 2.26. His arrival came after London compiled a 24-game winning streak from Nov. 2 to Dec. 31 with goalies Jake Patterson and Kevin Baillie each winning a dozen games.

Meanwhile, Barrie added Mitchell Theoret at the Jan. 10 deadline from Niagara and Jake Dotchin from Owen Sound. While Dotchin has four games remaining in a five-game suspension, Theoret's importance has been paramount. He is tied for the OHL lead in post-season goals with 10.

For London, the key Colt to shut down will be Mark Scheifele, who has eight goals and 19 assists in 15 playoff outings. Scheifele, who led Canada with five goals at the 2013 world junior championship, also collected 79 points in just 45 regular-season games with Barrie.

"You can easily see that Mark Scheifele is a special player and that's why twice he has been in Winnipeg (with Jets organization) for quite awhile," said London team president and head coach Dale Hunter. "We have to be aware of him at all times, the entire line of (Scheifele), Zach Hall and Anthony Camara."

The Knights have the luxury of three extra days of rest since winning the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as Western Conference champions after downing Plymouth in five games. Barrie didn't earn the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern champs until Monday when they defeated Belleville 3-1 in Game 7 of the conference final.

Despite Barrie's quicker turnaround, O'Connor said there are no tired players in the Colts dressing room.

"We have to carry the momentum we have from our last series," he said.

As defending champions, the Knights may have an edge in playoff experience.

"Our club's young guys can lean on the players who are used to playing this late in the season," says Knights captain Scott Harrington, who added that slowing the Colts' power play will be integral.

"Barrie has a lot of lethal forwards and a couple of defencemen that can put the puck in the net as well. …

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