Sports Hockey

Spitfires win series with OT heroics 0

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

The London Knights' season is over.

In overtime, no less.

Eric Wellwood bagged the overtime winner, just like he did in Game 3, as the Windsor Spitfires advanced to the OHL final with a 4-3 victory and five-game Western Conference final series win over the Knights before 6,528 fans last night at the WFCU Centre.

All five games went to overtime. This one lasted the longest -- 10 minutes and 14 seconds -- before Wellwood, brother of Vancouver Canuck Kyle Wellwood, shoved a rebound past Trevor Cann.

Again, the Spits rallied from behind.

Up 2-0 in the second, Zac Rinaldo's goalie interference penalty gave Windsor the spark it needed. Taylor Hall scored on the power play, and Lane Mac-Dermid, the big forward the Knights coveted, tipped home the tying goal.

It was the seventh blown two-goal lead of the series.

But Rinaldo redeemed himself with the whackiest goal in a series full of crazy ones.

His shot hit the backboards, bounced out, hit both of Windsor goaltender Andrew Engelage's skates and the big goalie kicked it in to give the Knights the 3-2 lead.

That set the stage for light-scoring Windsor captain Harry Young, who forced overtime with his first goal of the playoffs.

Cann was under the microscope all night, but so was Mark Hunter, the London Knights GM who brought in the former Peterborough Petes goalie to be his hockey club's playoff puckstopper this spring.

And Dale Hunter, the head coach who, for all the meetings of the minds in the Knights organization, had to wear the responsibility if Cann didn't shine in Game 5.

After all, he sat his go-to goalie down for Game 4 in London and gave the start to Daryl Borden.

It didn't work.

The Knights lost again in overtime, just like they did two of the first three games when Cann was the man.

So London turned back to their original plan -- Cann -- to extend the series. It's admittedly a tough ask.

The Knights made Windsor dig deep into their character and resolve with all these one-goal overtime games -- contests that could've been decided by a flip of a coin.

"It's the craziest thing ever," London forward Dominic DeSando said. "There is so much skill on both sides, I think that's why it's been so close. For a young guy, it's a great experience to be in a series like this.

"You play a team like Windsor and everything just goes up another level. It's been so exciting to play in these games."

Tavares opened the scoring on a London power play with 38 seconds left in the first period. Leigh Salters had the other London goal.

Engelage made 40 saves in the win, while Cann made 50 saves in defeat.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca


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