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'Felt like I was at the Bud': Knights players feeling fan support at Memorial Cup

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Riding a six-game win streak, the Knights want to keep the momentum going tonight in Saginaw, MI.

London faces Moose Jaw in their second game of the Memorial Cup tournament, and a victory would put them one win away from the final.

That is where the host Saginaw Spirit find themselves after Hunter Haight of Strathroy, Ont. scored the game winner Sunday night in a 4-3 win over Drummondville.

With London only three hours southwest of the tournament, they expect to have another large fan base Monday.

Of the 4,936 fans in attendance for their first contest Saturday, it felt like the majority were wearing green and gold.

“I scored and I felt like I was at the ‘Bud’ [Budweiser Gardens],” said Oliver Bonk. “I heard a lot of people, and it was great to have that much support. There were ‘Go Knights Go’ chants all around. It is really cool to come to an away barn and have that support.”

London defeated Drummondville, the champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Saturday 4-0.

The London Knights practice in Saginaw, Mich. ahead of their game against the Moose Jaw Warriors Monday night. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)Monday they meet the Warriors, another team they have never played against.

“It’s a little bit unknown, that’s the way it is in this tournament,” said Knights Coach Dale Hunter.

He felt both Moose Jaw and Saginaw showed a little rust Friday in the opener, so it was tough to gauge which version of the Warriors showed up.

“Both teams were off for, for a length of time because of, the sweeps in the final round,” added Hunter. “You could see where they [both teams] were following the puck a bit. The play picked up as the game went on.”

The Warriors trailed 4-0 to the Spirit Friday, but bounced back after a slow start and nearly tied the game.

The Moose Jaw Warriors lace up their skates before practice in Saginaw, Mich. on Sunday May 26, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“They are a very good team, very good players in there as we saw [on TV Friday],” said Kasper Halttunen, Knights forward who scored in game one. “If you give them anything they'll score.

We’ve got to be ready.”The Warriors coaching staff were in the stands Saturday to see the Knights play live for the first time.

They saw what they expected after tracking London on game film for a couple of weeks.

“It was as advertised with London, as we've seen them on video a lot,” said Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary. “It's pretty easy to access all that stuff [game video], but it was nice to watch them live and in person. They are a heck of a team. They are deep up front and on the back end, and they have a goaltender [Michael Simpson] that can make saves when they need it.”

Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary explains a drill to his players during practice in Saginaw, Mich. on Sunday May 26, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

With Drummondville losing both games to start their tournament, the Warriors could guarantee at least a spot in the tiebreaker game with a win tonight.

“We need this win,” said Warriors forward Pavel McKenzie. “Hopefully we get off to a strong start. Last game, we didn't get off to a strong start.”In a short tournament, every game has huge implications.

A victory would give the Knights a 2-0 start, and set up a winner-direct-to-final matchup with host Saginaw Wednesday.

A loss and London could face anything from tiebreaker game to Sunday final depending on the result of their next game. 

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