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London Knights open Memorial Cup with a shutout victory

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A dream start for the London Knights at the 2024 Memorial Cup tournament.

London shutout Drummondville 4-0 Saturday afternoon to get their first victory and guarantee at least a playoff spot in the Canadian Hockey League championship tournament.

“It's a tough tournament,” said Knights head coach Dale Hunter.

“Whenever you can win a game against these teams — they're the best from where they from, so it's definitely, it's tough competition. To get a win is real nice.”

Ruslan Gazizov got the first of his two goals 8:04 into the first period. That one stood up as the game winning goal. Oliver Bonk scored later in the first as London took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

“We had a quick start that was important in this game,” said Bonk, who added an assist on Kasper Halttunen’s goal in the third period. “These are just single games, so quick starts are important. I think we let up too many chances and we were not happy with it, but we still got the win. Mike [Simpson] played great, and we played enough defense to win it.”

Simpson was the difference maker. In the second period, the veteran goalie made two or three key stops including a breakaway as the Voltigeurs were charging hard and putting on the pressure after a slow start.

“He played really well,” said Hunter. “In the second period they poured it on, but he stood tall and made a big push, but he stood tall for us.”

Simpson said it “feels good” to get a shutout in the opener, “But the win is a little bit more important,” he added. “Starting off in the right foot always helps. We got two more games that are big, but you know, getting that win early kind of helps.”

Drummondville head coach Sylvain Favreau credited Simpson’s strong play saying, “He played an extremely good game.”

Favreau felt his team needed more secondary chances, and thought they only played to about 80 per cent of their capability.

“We know that we played a decent game,” said Favreau. “We just can't win against London by playing a decent game.”

The win by the Knights guarantees them at least a berth in the tiebreaker game Thursday.

“It was important for us to have a quick start and make sure we win this game,” said Bonk. “So kind of pressure is a bit off. Obviously we still want to win the other two to get kind of more days off, but it's a good start for us.”

The Knights will play their second game of the tournament Monday night against Moose Jaw, while Drummondville (0-1) will play Sunday evening against Saginaw (1-0). 

 

Round 1 schedule

(1) London Knights vs. (8) Flint Firebirds

Game 1: Fri., March 29 – London 3 Flint 0

Game 2: Sun., March 31 – London 6 Flint 4

Game 3: Tues., April 2 – London 4  Flint 3

Game 4: Thurs., April 4 – London 3 Flint 2

 

Round 2 schedule

(1) London Knights vs. (4) Kitchener Rangers

Game 1 – London 5 Kitchener 3

Game 2 – London 5 Kitchener 1

Game 3 – London 6 Kitchener 4

Game 4 – London 4 Kitchener 3

 

Western Conference Championship Series

(1) London Knights vs. (2) Saginaw Spirit

Game 1 – London 3 Saginaw 1 

Game 2 – London 3 Saginaw 1

Game 3 – Saginaw 6 London 2

Game 4 – London 7 Saginaw 3

Game 5 – Saginaw 4 London 2

Game 6 – London 4 Saginaw 2

 

2024 OHL Championship Series

Game 1 - London 8 Oshawa 1

Game 2 - London 9 Oshawa 1

Game 3 - London 7 Oshawa 6

Game 4 - London 7 Oshawa 1

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