Owen Willmore earned his first career Ontario Hockey League shutout as the London Knights moved back into sole possession of first place overall with a 4-0 victory over the Rangers in Kitchener on Jan. 30.
It was London’s third victory against the Rangers in 11 days and their 2,000th win in franchise history.
The Knights outscored Kitchener 18-5 in those three games. London is 3-1 in the season series between the teams.
The Rangers have now lost five games in a row while the Knights have gone 15-0-2 in their past 17 games.
London used their league-best power play to score twice and limited the Rangers to just four shots in the final 20 minutes and Willmore made use of his head– twice — to make saves.
Oliver Bonk tipped in a Kasper Halttunen shot from the left side of the Kitchener end on a London man advantage to open the scoring at 6:11 of the first period. Knights forward Easton Cowan picked up an assist on the play to extend his point streak to 15 games.
Later in the period, Rangers forward Luca Romano came about as close as you can come to tying the game as he found a Simon Motew rebound on his stick beside the right goal post in the London end, where Knights goalie Owen Willmore was down. Romano corralled the puck and shot and Willmore lunged over with his glove and stole a goal away.
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London weathered a whole lot of Kitchener pressure in the second period and got rewarded late as off a faceoff to start a 4-on-4 with Easton Cowan and Olivier Savard in their respective penalty boxes. Sam Dickinson put a puck to the Ranger net and Denver Barkey grabbed the rebound and put it past Kitchener goaltender Jackson Parsons for a 2-0 Knights lead with 1:24 left.
Kitchener outshot London 14-7 in the middle frame.
The Knights wet ahead 3-0 as Jacob Julien lasered in a rebound on another London power play at 1:29 of the third period and then Landon Sim finished the scoring by roofing a shot past Parsons with 2:59 to go in the game.
Julien and Barkey each recorded a goal and an assist on the night.
Halttunen had a pair of assists.
London went 2-for-3 on the man advantage and were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The Knights outshot the Rangers 25-24.
Knights and Rangers in the playoffs.
Should London and Kitchener end up meeting in the 2024 OHL post-season for the third consecutive year, it would mark the 13th time that the clubs have gone head-to-head in a series. At the moment, the Knights hold a decided 9-3 edge dating back to 1972-73 when playoffs in the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League involved eight point series.
The Knights have won five of the past six matchups including last spring’s victory in five games.
The Knights and Otters will meet again on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens.
London will be looking to reverse some of the Groundhog Day experiences they have had against the Otters.
Erie has won three of the first four meetings between the clubs.
Last Saturday the Knights were able to erase a 3-0 deficit to earn a point but the Otters edged London in a shootout.
Coverage will start at 6:30 p.m., on 980 CFPL, at www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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