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Knights get key contributions from young players ahead of OHL finals


The London Knights are back in familiar territory.

For the second straight year they will play for the J. Ross Robertson Cup in the Ontario Hockey League final. However, this time instead of facing the league’s top goalie, Michael Simpson will be in their net.

“He so clutch, he makes the big saves when we need him, so it’s good to have him on our side,” said Oliver Bonk, a Knights defenceman.

The Knights now know their opponent will be the Oshawa Generals who won the Bobby Orr trophy as Eastern Conference champions, defeating the North Bay Battalion in game seven Monday.

The Knights and Generals split the regular season with London winning 4-3 in overtime in Oshawa, and the Generals winning at Budweiser Gardens 6-4 on Feb. 28, 2024.

The Knights players gathered at the billet home of Simpson to watch the game.

“We watched it to see the kind of game, see who [we] are going to play,” said Max McCue, Knights forward. “We’re excited for the opportunity, and we’re excited for the challenge.”

It will be a challenge, however.

Between injuries and major suspensions, the Knights have been depleted.

The London Knights practice at the Western Fair District in London, Ont. on May 7, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)“Some of our younger guys, Will Nicholl really stepped up during this last series,” said Rob Simpson, Knights associate general manager.

He continued, “Sam O’Reilly played a huge role and even Henry Brzustewicz moving from D [defence] up to forward to give us more depth played really well. You need younger guys to be able to step up and play a bigger role like Easton Cowan and [Denver] Barkey did last year. We’re getting that from some of our younger players with suspension and injuries.”

The Knights earned the right to host the first two games of the series, and a potential game seven by finishing with the best record in the regular season.

Those taking the ice know the dream of hoisting the trophy is within reach.

"Every kid’s dream in the OHL is to win the Ontario Hockey League,” said McCue. “It’s even more for us because we were two games short last year. We'll be putting our best foot forward and hopefully it goes our way.”

Barkey has picked the brain of Simpson who lifted the cup as a member of the Petes last season in front of many of these Knights who are now his teammates.

"He said it's [a] once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Barkey. “It’s that feeling after you win, to celebrate it with teammates and coaches, and everyone you have been with. It’s something you work toward as a team, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Twelve wins down, four more to go. Top Stories

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