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'We bring grit and heart': Powerful Knights get stronger with return of 2 veterans

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Kaleb Lawrence has only played once in the London Knights last 11 games.

After serving a pair of five-game suspensions for checking to the head and neck, he is ready to return Saturday afternoon in the first game of the Memorial Cup tournament against Drummondville.

“It was definitely tough but we just kept winning games and I'm really happy that we're here,” said Lawrence, the overage forward, who recently signed a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings. “I’ve got something to prove being here and being in the lineup.”

Lawrence’s line mate Landon Sim is also returning from a five-game ban.

He watched his teammates celebrate a J. Ross Robertson Cup Championship after receiving a five-game suspension following a pair of incidents.

He laid a body check on a Saginaw player during pre-game warmup in the OHL Western Conference Final, and called a Spirit player a name.

“Sitting out watching that final series was pretty tough,” said Sim, 19, a St. Louis Blues prospect.

Kaleb Lawrence has missed 10 of the London Knights last 11 games due to suspension. He is set to return May 25, 2024 in the Knights first Memorial Cup game in Saginaw, Mich. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)“I loved to be out there with the boys but the boys got her done in pretty good fashion. I’m so excited, as I've came back from a couple injuries already this year, and that was pretty good.”

The two were skating on a line at practice with Finnish sniper Kasper Halttunen.

“It helps a lot, they are veteran guys,” Knights Head Coach Dale Hunter said about getting them back in the lineup. “One is 19 [years old] and the other is overage. The young guys did a good job when they were out, but now with them back in we added some size, and they are chomping at the bit.”

Lawrence also acknowledged the work of Will Nicholl and Henry Brzustewicz while he and Sim were out of the lineup.

“Nico and Henny definitely stepped up in a big way,” said Lawrence. “We're really excited to be back. I think we bring a lot a lot of grit and heart to this team, and I think that's what we're looking to prove.”

Landon Sim missed the OHL Championship Series while serving a five-game suspension. He is set to return May 25, 2024 in the Knights first Memorial Cup game in Saginaw, Mich. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

Both the veteran forwards have been working out on and off the ice to be ready for their suspensions to expire.

“A lot of bag skating, and a lot of hard workouts,” said Sim, regarding how he kept busy while waiting to return. “Just watching the boys and just trying to stay around the room and around the guys.”

Hunter said trying to stay in shape during practice is not the same as simulating a game situation, but believes they done a good job with drills to have them ready for the tournament opener.

As for the opener, Sim believes his club will have an advantage over the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions due to familiarity with the Dow Event Center.

“We spent some time and we played there in the playoffs obviously,” said Sim. “We know they’ve got rowdy fans, so we know what to expect. It's kind of like a little bit of a home game for the Ontario league as we’ve played here a bunch of times.”

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