It's hard to be a fan and pretend to be a reporter sometimes. It's an exciting role to play, but emotions can take over and you an slack off a bit. Last night, history was made. The London Knights rolled their way with 13 consecutive playoff wins on their way to becoming OHL Champions.
The game begins with a Niagara crowd that's a little more nervous, and some have given their seats to Knights fans, as the latter can hardly be drowned out.
London comes roaring out of the gate like overtime never ended on Monday, controlling the puck and play for the first five minutes. The game is rougher to start off than previous games. Overtime hero Owen MacDonald and Josh Wesley get into it a bit right away, MacDonald sends Wesley into the boards and Wesley responds with a punch to the head. Minutes later Wesley sends MacDonald into the boards and is given two minutes for checking from behind.
London's power play is as strong as ever, but Niagara makes it's penalty kill work even harder as they keep the Knights from getting a puck past Nedeljkovic. London is shut out on their first PP attempt, and Niagara is evening play bit by bit as the game goes on.
Mikulovich for Niagara sends London's Heffernan into the boards and gets two minutes. WE see Piccinich and Marner on the power play but Niagara kills that off as well. Niagara's defense is hanging back tonight, not letting that top line sneak by them as they did in game 3. Graham Knott (NIA) and Brandon Crawley. The 4 on 4 ends without a goal.
London opens the scoring with a goal from Christian Dvorak who easily sends a Mitch Marner pass into the net.
The first period ends 1-0 London, with shots 17-11 in the Knights favour.
The second period is fast and back and forth but not a lot of action. Let's review in vines:
Lots of chances on both sides, but they have committed to playing defense tonight. Maletta and Dvorak get into a shoving match that ends up with Dvorak on the ground. Tkachuk and Mikuovich each get 2 after jumping into the scrum. Right away Juolevi gets two minutes for holding Perlini and Niagara gets a 4 on 3 powerplay that, well, they get some shots, but nothing happens. DVorak and Marner make a rush as the 4 on 3 expires, Tkachuk tried to join in but is stopped by Ned.
Niagara gets another PP but they don't score. Marner gets a shorthanded breakaway but his stick is broken by a catching up defenseman before he gets a shot off. Another scrum by the IceDogs net gives us another 4 on 4. Whistles are being used a lot more than in game 3. Tkachuk and Haydon go to the box for roughing.
Second period ends 1-0 London, shots 22-13 for the Knights.
The third period begins 4 on 4 and Niagara is dominating possession but the Knights are keeping them to the perimeter of the zone. Marner skated into the Niagara end like a rocket but his shot went way, way, high into the netting. Defense is strong for both teams, and Niagara keeps upping the offense on their end. London has the defense locked in tight. Every time an IceDog tries to break out of their end, two Knights defense are right on top of him.
Josh Wesley takes a tripping penalty against Max Jones, and gives London another power play, but they don't score. Marner and Nedeljkovic are dueling all night, but Ned keeps coming up on the right side. Matthew Tkachuk swoops around some defense and tries to score between his legs, but is denied.
The IceDogs fight as hard as they can to score, but even with the extra man they can not break the Knights defense.
The London Knights take game 4 1-0, winning the OHL Championship, and earning a place in the 98th Memorial Cup. Their first game will be next Friday, May 19th.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2016 OHL Champions: The London Knights.