Knight train keeps rolling

May 17, 2024

This is not a one Knight stand. For the record, the London Knights have not had a losing season in more than 20 years, a feat that is unmatched among the member teams in the Ontario Hockey League. This is a junior hockey dynasty. This is a junior hockey powerhouse. This is a junior hockey franchise that is the envy of many.

A 2024 playoff record of 16-2 has the Knights headed to the Memorial Cup tournament as runaway OHL champions. London faced all comers this spring and turned them aside.

London began the 2024 playoffs with a four game sweep of the eighth seed Flint Firebirds, who actually gave the Knights a tough time in a series that featured scores of 3-0 (with an empty net goal), 6-4 (with an empty net goal), 4-3 and 3-2 in favour of the Green Machine. Then came another four game sweep as the Knights brushed aside the Kitchener Rangers with relative ease. Up next, in the Western Conference finals, came the Saginaw Spirit. Saginaw — with automatic entry into the Memorial Cup tournament as host team — gave London a good run before the Knights prevailed in six games. Then came the OHL finals against Oshawa, which was as one sided as could be for the Knight train. The Knights not only blew out the Generals in four straight games but outscored them by a resounding 31-9 margin.

The 2024 OHL championship win for London made up for 2023 when the Knights lost in the finals to the Peterborough Petes. But as London geared up for another run this season, Peterborough did not even make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

Knights head coach Dale Hunter — the soon to be 64-year old tactician who is without peer as a bench boss in the entire Canadian Hockey League — gave credit to his players, as he seemingly always does.

“They are a bunch of good kids that just wanted to win all year and coming into the playoffs here we played some great teams,” said Hunter. “All four rounds were tough. The other teams played well but our kids stepped it up another level.”

The 2024 win secured London its fifth OHL championship in franchise history — all under the ownership of Hunter and his younger brother Mark, who is the Knights’ general manager — following previous crowns in 2016, 2013, 2012 and 2005.

And the playoff championship capped another brilliant OHL season for London. The Knights were OHL regular season champions with a record of 50-14-4, good for 104 points. They also won their fifth consecutive Midwest Division title. (By the way, over the past 20 years, the Knights have won 50 or more regular season games five times. And on five other occasions during that span, they have won 49 regular season games.)

The Knights now advance to the 2024 Memorial Cup championship tournament that gets underway on Friday, May 24 in Saginaw, Michigan. The Knights will compete against the host Saginaw Spirit, the Quebec Maritime Jr. Hockey League champion Drummondville Voltigeurs and the Western Hockey League champion Moose Jaw Warriors in pursuit of the 104th Memorial Cup.

London has twice won the Memorial Cup — in 2005 and 2016.

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