If you blinked – you might have missed it.
The London Knights are 2016 OHL champions after shutting out the Niagara IceDogs in a 1-0 game 4 victory.
Christian Dvorak scored the game’s only goal with 3:23 remaining in the first frame to give London all they needed to win their third J. Ross Robertson Cup in five years and fourth in franchise history.
As a result – the Knights become the first champion across Canada to punch their ticket to next week’s 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Red Deer, Alberta.
Head Coach Dale Hunter sounded like a proud papa following London’s four game sweep of Niagara.
“A 1-nothing game, the game before was 6-5,” Hunter said. “Again it starts with our team leaders who are really good and everybody’s chipping in, everyone is blocking shots and that’s how you win championships – with character and that room is all character.”
Shortly after being drafted – Buch was diagnosed a rare form of bone cancer affecting mainly children and adolescents.
Tyler Parsons made 18 saves in the shutout for London’s 13th straight win – which snaps a 28 year old league record set by the 1988 Windsor Spitfires.
Hunter added that he was proud of the strong chemistry his team developed over the season.
Adversity in the first round lead to a climactic turning point for London in this post season.
Dvorak, whose lone goal was the eventual game winner – felt the first round series against Owen Sound really woke up the sleeping giants.
London lost two games in the opener but then swept Kitchener, Erie and Niagara consecutively – Dvorak felt that’s when the Knights got their wake up call.
“I think after the Owen Sound series, they played us really hard,” Dvorak said. “We got through it, we knew how hard we had to work and everyone just started to buy in and we haven’t lost a game since so we gotta make sure we keep playing like this.”
London’s 16 and 2 playoff record also matches that of the 2005 Memorial Cup winning Knights squad for the best finish in league history.
The fourth title in franchise history comes after victories in 2005, 2012 and 2013 as they head to their fourth Memorial Cup in 5 years.
London opens the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup next Friday – when they face the host Red Deer Rebels.