Home ice advantage holds between London Knights and Saginaw as Spirit win Game 3 – London

The Saginaw Spirit scored three times in the second period and defeated the London Knights 6-2 at the Dow Event Center to continue the home ice domination between the teams this year.

In seven games between the clubs in the regular season and playoffs combined, the home team is a perfect 7-0 and has outscored the visitor 38-17.

The loss was London’s first of the 2024 post-season and stopped their winning streak at 10, which stands up as a new franchise record for most victories to start any playoff year.

The Knights lead the best-of-seven series two games to one.

London and the Spirit will both enjoy an off-day before the series resumes at the Dow Event Center on May 1.

Saginaw got the first goal of the game just 2:55 into the game as Strathroy’s Hunter Haight connected on a pass to the left of the London net on a power play for his fifth goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 Spirit lead.

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The Knights responded exactly five minutes later at the end of a man advantage of their own as Ruslan Gazizov snapped his third goal in two games past Nolan Lalonde, who started his seventh consecutive game in the absence of Saginaw goalie Andrew Oke who remained out with an upper body injury.

Landon Sim used his baseball skills to put London in front at 15:16 of the first period as Sim deflected an Isaiah George shot into the Spirit net for a 2-1 Knights lead heading into the second.

After an Owen Beck slap shot beat London goalie Michael Simpson at the 4:59 mark, Saginaw found the back of the London net twice more on deflected pucks.

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First a Zayne Parekh pass to the net from the blue line went off the skate of Michael Misa and in, and then Haight deflected home a Braden Hache shot for his second of the game with 1:27 remaining in the middle period and the Spirit took a two-goal lead into the final 20 minutes.

Beck and Misa had both been on nine-game goalless streaks.

Calem Mangone got behind the Knights defence in the third period and scored on a breakaway to make it 5-2 and then Alex Christopoulos poked a third rebound past Owen Willmore who entered the London net after the fifth Saginaw goal.

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Parekh had two assists in his return to the Spirit lineup. Haight ended the game with two goals and an assist. Roddy Dionicio had three assists on the night.

London played without Jackson Edward (personal reasons), Alec Leonard (lower body) and Kaleb Lawrence (suspension).

Saginaw was without goaltender Andrew Oke (upper body) and James Guo (suspension).

The Spirit outshot the Knights 38-20.

London was o-for-3 on the power play.

Saginaw was 1-for-4.

Kasper Halttunen named OHL Player of the Week

Knights players have now grabbed back-to-back honours as the OHL Player of the Week. Kasper Halttunen’s three goals to begin the Western Conference Championship gave him the nod a week after London forward Jacob Julian was given the award. Halttunen is in his first year in the Ontario Hockey League and now has nine goals in the playoffs.

Halttunen represented Finland at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship and was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Olli Juolevi wins Finnish championship

Olli Juolevi and Tappara are standing atop the hockey world in Finland after capturing a third-straight Liiga title. It’s was Juolevi’s first after he joined the club partway through the 2023-24 season. Juolevi was a key part of the London Knights Memorial Cup championship in 2016. He was so key that he was the player who started the rush that led to the overtime winning goal against Rouyn-Noranda in the Memorial Cup final as he dug a puck out along the end boards and gave it to Aidan Jamieson, who fed Matthew Tkachuk on the left-wing side of the ice.

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Tkachuk took it from there. Juolevi began his NHL career in the Vancouver Canucks organization and was eventually moved to Detroit were he last played a National Hockey League game in 2021-22. Juolevi spent last year in the American Hockey League and began this season in Sweden before heading back to his home country to help Tappara get back to the top of the mountain.


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