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'Fired up' London Knights ready to open Memorial Cup tournament Saturday

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The London Knights enjoyed an off day in Saginaw, Mich. with a light skate and some media duties before heading back to Frankenmuth where they are staying on Friday.

They will start the Memorial Cup tournament Saturday afternoon against Drummondville, the champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

“We're pretty excited,” said Knights forward Denver Barkey. “That whole presentation [parade] yesterday was pretty cool. Just to see the Memorial Cup there got us fired up.”

London will be walking into a bit of an unknown against Drummondville.

“Usually we know these kids from drafting them and watching them in minor midget, but these [kids] are totally different,” said Dale Hunter, Knights head coach. “We showed some film on each player, and you get to know their tendencies. They swept their series too, so we’ll have to be ready to go.”

Drummondville beat Baie-Comeau in four straight games to win the QMJHL title.

London fans will see a “high compete team” according to the Voltigeurs’ head coach.

London Knights goalie Michael Simpson, as seen in Sagniaw, Mich. on May 24, 2024, is playing in his second straight Memorial Cup tournament. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“We're excited to play London right off the get go,” said Sylvain Favreau. “We understand that they're certainly a favorite to win this tournament. We're excited to compete against them on Saturday.”

Drummondville goalie Riley Mercer said the coaches have studied film on London, but he prefers to focus on his own game.

“I stay away from even personal stats or other guy’s stats,” said Mercer. “I just stick to practice time and focus on what I do on the ice. I don’t look into the other teams.”

While Mercer prefers to avoid knowing much about his opponent, London goalie Michael Simpson wants to do his homework.

“We’ve done a bit of video to see who their good players are, and being a goalie you want to know who are their shooters and who can set up plays,” said Simpson.

The Memorial Cup trophy sits at centre ice at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Mich. on May 24, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

Because the Ontario Hockey League is hosting this tournament this year, the Knights will see a bit of an advantage. They will not have to play back-to-back games during the round robin.

“If those games go to overtime or past regulation, it’s nice to have those days off in between,” explained Simpson. “You can practice, watch video and it’s great to have those days off in between.”

Knights forward Landon Sim, who has attended Memorial Cup tournaments as a fan, is about to live his dream by playing in one.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Sim. “I just want to be out there on the ice with the fans. I watch the Mem [Memorial] Cup every year, so just to be here it is like, ‘Holy we’re here,’” he said. 

Dale Hunter, head coach of the London Knights, watches practice in Saginaw, Mich. from the bench on May 24, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

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