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'Bad blood there': Saginaw gets added to list of London Knights rivals

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When you live at the top of the mountain, you build up a number of rivalries over the years.

Teams that would consider London a main foe include Windsor, Sarnia and Kitchener — but now, you can add the Saginaw Spirit to the mix.

“Of course there's some bad, bad blood there,” said Spirit defenceman Zayne Parekh. “It's two highly skilled teams that are very competitive and both want to win.”

This is the first season the Spirit posed a threat to London. They battled all year for the top seed in the Western Conference, and met in the conference final.

"Any time you play a team in the playoffs, especially the conference final point, I think the rivalry is born,” said Chris Lazary, Spirit head coach. “There's some good animosity, some good compete, there's some good games like it is hockey. I think rivalries in hockey are what makes it fun.”

Things heated up during the playoffs when Kaleb Lawrence and Landon Sim both were suspended while playing the Spirit.

Lawrence was given five games for a cross check to the neck of Parekh, while Sim was handed five games for what the league deemed to be offensive language toward a Spirit player.

During this tournament, Spirit fans have booed every time the Knights are brought up in the arena.

“You’ve kind of got to lean into the storyline if it's presented,” said Knights assistant coach Dylan Hunter. “It is fun that we're coming out of the same conference. It is a rivalry all year. Now you get a chance to play 60 minutes for the finals. I mean, it is what you work for.”

The Dow Event Center has been packed during this tournament, with both Knights and Spirit fans represented.

“A lot of noise from the crowd I think is good on both sides,” said Lazary. “London fans, they do travel well, and they do have good fans. We have better fans.” 

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