Knights up two on Spirit

April 28, 2024

LONDON — Two games that were put away by empty net goals have given the London Knights a two games to none lead on the Saginaw Spirit.

London Knights goalie Michael Simpson stops a shot from Matyas Sapovaliv of the Saginaw Spirit. (photo by Derek Ruttan/Postmedia)

3-1 and 3-1. Those two scores have given London a 2-0 lead in the best of seven playoff series that is the Western Conference final in the Ontario Hockey League.

Both games were played before crowds of more than 9,000 fans here at London’s Budweiser Gardens. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday evening in Saginaw.

The two wins for London over Saginaw means the Knights are still undefeated in this year’s playoffs. London swept the Flint Firebirds in the first round of these OHL playoffs and did the same to the Kitchener Rangers in the second round.

The head coaches of both teams gave their views to Postmedia on the first two games of the series.

London head coach Dale Hunter described the system of the Knights that has thus far limited Saginaw to just two goals in two games.

“It’s not truly a man-to-man approach. It’s a squeeze down and then fan out after. A few teams in the National Hockey League use it and everybody has a different system. No matter what system you use, it’s up to the players to execute it. We execute it well,” said Hunter.

Over to Saginaw, Spirit head coach Chris Lazary said his team needs to finish in the offensive zone.

“We have to score on our chances,” said Lazary said. “Bottom line. It’s the game of hockey. We had some good looks and didn’t score.”

Lazary made mention of being down two games to zero and going home to Saginaw for Games 3 and 4.

“When you’re down 2-0, it becomes mental,” Lazary said. “We have to make sure the belief is in the room. We’re a different animal at home. (The Knights) haven’t beaten us in our rink this year and we’re looking forward to going back.”

— with files from Cathy Wigle

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