London Knights got a two-goal performance by Luke Evangelista including the game-winning goal with just under four minutes remaining to beat the Kingston Frontenacs 7-5 on Saturday night. It was the fourth game in succession where Kingston ultimately lost the two-points with less than four minutes as the team continues to play strong in pursuit of the final playoff spot. The 2020 NHL draft-eligible Zayde Wisdom had another great all-round game showing off his physical forechecking and scoring prowess.
The Knights paid the visit to Kingston for the first and only time of the 2019-20 season on Saturday night at Leons Centre. The game featured offences that can score goals quickly with London’s Connor McMichael sitting third-overall in OHL goal-scoring (38) and fourth overall in points (88). With support from Liam Foudy, Luke Evangelista, and Jonathan Gruden the Knights have scored the fifth most team goals in the OHL. Foudy, a 2019 first-round selection was called up to the NHL by Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week on an emergency injury basis playing in two-games. McMichael joined Foudy in helping Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships last Christmas/New Years.
Kingston counters with OHL Rookie of the Year favourite Shane Wright and Zayde Wisdom with mid-season acquisition Martin Chromiak finding a home with the two team-leading scorers to form a potent line surely to trade chances with the Knights high-octane offence. Kingston had scored four goals or more in their last five games and with some depth scoring coming from Dawson Baker and the continued help from the blueline from Jakob Brahaney and Nick King, they may have an opportunity to keep up with the Knights.
Wright entered on a seven-game point streak registering eight goals and eight assists for 16 points during a stretch that has seen him score a goal and two assists in each of his last three games.
Where: Leon’s Centre in Kingston
Time: 7 p.m.
London Knights 51 GP: 35-14-1-1 (72 pts – 2nd in Midwest Div. / 3rd Western Conf.)
Kingston Frontenacs: 52 GP: 17-31-2-2 (38 pts – 5th East Div. / 9th Eastern Conf.)
Game-Night Stat Check:
- Shane Wright leads OHL rookie scoring (58), goals (33) and rookie powerplay goals (7), SOG (162), Tied GWG (4)
- Wright (20.4 percent) and Martin Chromiak (18.7 percent) both sit in top-five for OHL rookie shooting percentage
- Wright (58), Vitali Pinchuk (25), Chromiak (24), and Francesco Arcuri (18) are all in top-20 OHL scoring for rookies
- Kingston has scored more team-goals (171) already than last season (144)
- Kingston’s Penalty-Killing has been steadily gaining a better efficiency and is no longer in last place in the OHL team rankings
Wisdom would give Kingston the 1-0 lead after batting a midair puck past London starter Dylan Myskiw at 13:05. The goal would initially be waived off for a high-stick, but under review, the call was reversed and the Frontenacs had first lead of the game. The assist by Wright extended his point streak to eight games with Jakob Brahaney adding to his team-leading assist total with his 27th helper.
It was 2-0 Frontenacs at 15:29 after Dustin Hutton made London pay for a turnover in their end. After two defenders lost control of the puck, Hutton picked it up and went in alone beating Myskiw for his fifth goal unassisted.
Less than a minute later, Markus Phillips seeing-eye shot from the point at 16:07 found its way past Christian Propp to get the Knights on the board 2-1 as the Knights brought some pressure late. Propp would be called on to make a couple nice saves in the closing minutes including a diving rebound save after stopping a Ryan Merkley wrist shot from the slot.
Kingston got the games’ first powerplay late in the period late and would go to the intermission with the 2-1 lead while still on the powerplay.
With a 1:37 of powerplay left in the late penalty to London, Kingston had an opportunity to get some needed insurance but it was London’s second-ranked penalty-killers that had other plans scoring a short-handed goal just 18 seconds into the period. Billy Moskal tied the game 2-2 with London’s seventh short-handed goal beating Propp on a semi-breakaway.
Kingston, much like a majority of games didn’t get flustered after having the game tied however and
continued to mount pressure on London’s defence. Wisdom would be instrumental in setting up Chromiak at 2:43 to get Kingston back out in front 3-2 with a hard-working play. The physical forward battled off two Knights in the London zone before feeding a pass to Chromiak who beat Myskiw with a shot along the ice for his 10th goal.
Kurtis Foster commented on the effort when asked about Wisdom: “That’s the way he plays. He’s relentless on the puck. When he’s playing like that in your face and moving his feet he’s a real, effective player. As happy as everybody thinks Wis is to play with Shane I think those guys are happy to play with him too cause he does a lot of hard, dirty work. That’s just a highlight of what he does every game.”
Midway through the period, Propp would make a potential save-of-the-year as he dove like a shortstop to rob Alec Regula after he tried to one-time a rebounded shot into the wide-open cage. Propp never gave up on the play much like his teammates in front of him.
Kingston would get a shorthanded opportunity as Jordan Frasca went in on a breakaway, but Myskiw was able to thwart the chance and keep it a one-goal game heading to the second intermission.
Kingston did a good job against the second-ranked powerplay team in the league and killed off an early penalty to Brahaney including Wright making a key blocked-shot on McMichael.
Unfortunately for the Frontenacs, the Knights would turn the game around in a span of 20 seconds beginning at the 4:35 mark on an Antonio Stranges goal. The dynamic 2020 NHL draft-eligible got his 18th tying the game 3-3 after a nice against-the-grain pass by Evangelista who had taken a great feed by Nathan Dunkley entering the zone.
Nineteen seconds later it was 4-3 as London took its first lead of the game when Matvey Guskov banged home a rebound that had come right back to him after his initial shot.
Showing resilience once again, Kingston would come back to tie the game 4-4 at 9:16 after a Nick Wong shot would deflect in off Francesco Arcuri. The rookies’ seventh goal set up another tight finish for Kingston as has been the case in the last five games.
Shortly after Propp stoned McMichael from the slot, London went ahead 5-4 at 12:30 on the first of two goals by Luke Evangelista over the next few minutes. Evangelista would again score at 16:06 making it 6-4 on his 22nd goal.
Foudy would add an empty netter at 17:58 before Vitali Pinchuk scored a late goal at 18:35 to finalize the score 7-5.
Foudy said after the game: ” (It)shows character a lot when we were down. We got up but they came back and tied it up again. We made a couple of nice plays at the end to get the lead and held on for the win. On facing a good young team in Kingston he added: “They have a young team, but they are doing well, they have a great young forward in Shane Wright, he’s a great player and they have some other good young guys so they are tough to play.”
After another tough loss in which the Frontenacs were in the game, it was a frustrating ending to another good game played by Kingston overall. Wisdom said: “We worked stayed in it to the end, kinda sucks that we let it go but we have to come back next game and win and get that playoff spot.” A resilient bunch all year he continued: “I think as a team we are staying positive and sticking together through this, its a slump and we’ll get through it.”
Head coach Kurtis Foster said: ” When you have a 3-2 lead going into the third period against a team like that you are feeling as confident as you can against a team like that. We had too many breakdowns in the third they got some confidence, got going making some pretty good plays. They are a tough team to play against.”
We couldn’t really match as much as I would like. They were mixing it up. I tried to get Wright’s line or Frasca’s line out against the Foudy line as much as possible. They got a lot of depth, a lot of talent, and play a lot of minutes, so it is tough to handle. You can tell why they have such a good record.”
On belief and resiliency his team shows, he says: “It has been there for a while now. I feel like they always believe. Us as a group got to take a look and try to figure out as a group how to keep the goals down. You can’t win a lot of games giving up four, five, six. You have to keep learning from it and improving it.”
- Luke Evangelista – LDN
- Nathan Dunkley – LDN
- Zayde Wisdom – KGN
CHL Hardest Working Player (Voted by Fans):
- Jakob Brahaney
Kingston Frontenacs play their next game on Monday, February 17 at 2 p.m. vs Barrie Colts