For comparison's sake, on Saturday afternoon, the second longest win streak in the Ontario Hockey League belongs to, well, Windsor, who have won three straight dating back to Dec. 1. They have out-scored their opponents 8-5.
London have a chance to match a franchise-best 18-game winning streak Sunday at home to Mississauga. You may recall the last time the Knights and Steelheads met, the teams went to an unprecedented 19-round shootout, with Seth Griffith scoring twice, the only time that's happened in OHL history.
Other than that wrinkle, London have had to play through a pair of overtimes during the streak (they didn't allow a shot in either one) and have just two one-goal regulation games. Team captain Scott Harrington, the odds-on favourite to be named captain of the Canadian World Junior squad later this month, isn't quitting to go to Calgary early. His number one priority is to keep the streak alive.
"I'm not going yet," he says. "I'm playing Sunday afternoon."
"We want it right now and we want to win more than the other team does.
"That's driving our team. With every win, our team gels more together.
"We're happy we're winning the games and we're happy with how we're doing it."
They haven't allowed more than three goals in any game during this streak. They've surrendered just 21 in their past 11 games.
That, too, is much like the way the 04-05 champs did business. [London Free Press]
One of the beneficiaries of the London Knights strong defensive style is indubitably overage goaltender Kevin Bailie, who is putting up a career season playing for the team his grandmother is a longtime season ticket holder. Bailie is 14-4-0-1, with career bests (as you'd expect of most overage players) in goals against average and save percentage, at 2.24 and .930 respectively.
Jake Patterson, the other goalie in Mark Hunter's system has seen a slight majority of the starts during the 17-game streak (nine). A 1994-born with more pro aspirations than Bailie, indubitably, was in the net for Friday night's 5-3 win over the offensively-gifted Niagara IceDogs. 19-year old fifth overall pick Ryan Strome has only two assists in his last six games against London:
"Pretty much everything's back to normal," the 18-year-old netminder said. "It was a big game, for sure, going back to the finals last year. We knew they were going to come out hard and we had to shut them down. The boys played great in front of me. The D's been a big part of this streak."
Of course he'd say that. It's cliché when it comes to talk about the Knights. They were 2nd in team defence by goals against last year (178) and are "on-pace" to give up just 161 this time around.
Now, Bailie and Patterson will be busier over the next couple of weeks. Harrington is going to Calgary. Olli Määttä is going to play for Team Finland and is already on his way to development camp. Both bring a combination of size, experience, and knowledge of the system that will make it near impossible for London to continue their streak. Hulking defenceman Nikita Zadorov was named to Team Russia's preliminary list. The 1984 Kitchener Rangers saw their 25-game win streak go through the spring, without an international tournament to worry about. The 2009 Barrie Colts, who hit 22 wins in a row, lost only Stefan Della Rovere to Team Canada, and not their three best eligible defencemen.
The streak likely won't last to 25 and set a record, but Budweiser Gardens ought to be particularly loud Sunday afternoon with Mississauga in town. It's not just the streak on the line, but Scott Harrington's last game with the Knights before he likely heads to Russia.
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