The London Knights have done what no team this season have been able to do.
The Knights handed the Erie Otters their first loss of the season, regrouping from giving up a two-goal lead in the third period to prevail in a shootout.
Max Domi had the deciding goal, and Knights goalie Michael Giugovaz made the final shootout save to earn the victory.
“It was huge to get that win,” says Domi. “We battled hard all game, and a couple power play goals for them deflated us a little bit, but you can obviously see the improvement in how we bounced back from that. We didn’t tuck our tails in and hide; we came back and competed hard.”
Forward Julius Bergman had a goal and two assists for the Knights, his goal coming off a perfectly-executed tic-tac-toe pass across the crease from Matt Rupert and Max Domi.
“We practiced that,” Berman says. “When [Rupert] is getting it down low, you have to be ready for a bouncing puck or a pass.”
The Knights got on the scoreboard first after forward Christian Dvorak found the back of the net in the sixth minute. Just four minutes later, the Otters evened the score after rookie forward Alex DeBrincat slipped one past Knights goalie Michael Giugovaz.
Michael McCarron put the Knights back ahead on a power play late in the first, tapping in the rebound off a save by Erie’s Devin Williams. Bergman scored in the second period to put the Knights up 3-1.
Then came the Otters. Dylan Strome scored on a power play in the first minute of the third period to bring Erie within a goal, and halfway through the third period, DeBrincat picked up his second to tie the game.
The Otters entered the game with an aura of invincibility, thanks to the ever-growing myth of Connor McDavid and his blistering start to the OHL season. One thing is clear after watching him play: he’s real, and he’s spectacular.
The Otters captain picked up two assists to add to his league-leading points tally, giving him 20 points through his first seven games. He also drew gasps from the crowd at even the slightest scoring chance. Still, the Knights kept him from finding the back of the net.
“He’s a special player, and he’s doing great so far. We’ve got to respect him, but at the end of the day, we’ve still got to play hard against him, and we did that tonight,” Domi says.
The Knights also retired Dave Bolland’s #91 jersey before the game.
“It was a special feeling when he was entering the ice,” Bergman says. “To see his banner going up, it’s something every hockey player dreams of.”
Bolland thanked the Hunters and credited them for making him a two-way player: “Mark and Dale sat me down and said, If you’re not going to play defense, you’re not going to play.”