The first battle of the 2016 OHL final literally had no chill.
The London Knights overcame a slow first period where they registered only five shots before erupting in a 3-goal second period – elevating them to a 4-1 win over the Niagara IceDogs to take game one of the best of seven series.
Mitch Marner continued his torrent playoff scoring pace notching a goal with an assist to increase his post season point total to a league leading 39 in 15 games.
Matt Tkachuk added two helpers while Christian Dvorak, Owen MacDonald and Chandler Yakimowicz each notched second period goals to give the game one advantage to London in a rematch of the 2012 OHL final.
London found themselves down after an early second period goal gave Niagara a 1-nothing lead but a strong forechecking effort by the Knight’s third line lead to J.J. Piccinich forcing a turnover that found its was to MacDonald who wired it home from just inside the circle to tie the game.
MacDonald acknowleged how his line of Piccinich and Yakimowicz have been able to do all the little things right.
“Our line is successful,” he stated. “We complete the cycle game and we take pride in going down low and making plays and that’s where we’re gonna be successful.”
“Our number one job is to play defense and to keep the puck out of the net and if we can do that as well as chip in a goal here and there then it’s really going to help the team.”
Head Coach Dale Hunter was pleased with the overall team effort.
“I think both teams were feeling each other out in the first period and see what the match ups were,” Hunter said.
“It was a high-paced game, lots of speed out there – both goalies were excellent tonight and in the second period they jumped on us and got a goal and the kids kept battling, got us a couple of goals and we played a good third period.”
Tyler Parsons held the fort again for London stopping 27 shots while Niagara’s Alex Nedeljkovic did all he could to keep his team in the game making 19 saves but the Knights simply managed to capitalize on the right opportunities and took advantage of costly IceDog turnovers.
Niagara’s loss was their first in over a month, dating back to March 28th in a first round loss to the Ottawa 67’s.
Meanwhile at 11 straight games – London is riding not only its longest winning streak of the playoffs but of the entire season – dating all the way back to April 1st.
What better time to be on their biggest roll of the year than in the big dance.
Game Two takes place on Saturday night at Budweiser Gardens with puck drop at 7PM.