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Introduction to Gong Show Hockey aka… Preseason OHL Hockey

Saturday September 3rd, London Knights in Sarnia to take on the Sting in what is now quite possibly, the hottest rivalry in the OHL. Quite possibly better than the LDN/KIT Rivalry.

Last night at the RBC Centre may actually have been the first time that I got disgusted at the rink. And that is a little harsh for me to say considering prior to becoming ‘media’ I was a HUGE London Knights fan dating back to before the turn of the century.  With a Team Roster in hand, I awaited anxiously to find out who would be scratched for tonight’s contest. I already knew a few Knights players that were going to be sitting out since they were in section 111. But to find out Knight, Houser, Namestnikov, Griffith, Rupert, Athanasiou and a few others were watching the game. Right there the alarm bells went off. When it was announced that the Sting were basically playing with their full team (minus Conor Murphy, Kujawinski and Harrison) the question was not if it would turn into a Fight Night but when. Throw in a Twitter message by former Knight Chris Desousa that read,

‘Whoever is at the @golondonknights game in Sarnia.. Send me updates on how Chris Maton is doing! #defdroppingthegloves’

And this game was going to be a match of brawn instead of a contest of talent in front of the Sarnia fans.

To a degree, I do not blame the London Knights for getting frustrated with the play of the Sarnia Sting. With a full lineup of 'A' caliber talent basically playing the Knights ‘B’ Team it wasn’t a contest. Considering it was 3-0 after 12 minutes without London getting a shot on net, it just added fuel to the fire that would eventually erupt.

Fast-forward to the second half of the game. Around the 15 minute mark of the second period and the wheels fell off. A few Knights players began to assert their physical dominance and hack, and slash and punch the Sting players in hopes that they would become frustrated and retaliate. That wasn’t the case.  Sarnia kept their composure and continued to add tallies to the scoreboard.

Enter the third period and it was all out attack any Sarnia Sting player that you saw. After the game I wasn’t able to talk to a London Knight player in person as they left the RBC Centre as fast as they could. But thanks to the power of text/instant messaging I was able to discuss this game with two London players. Of course they wanted to be known as anonymous but they were willing to answer my questions.
From the stands every time something would happen that resulted in a Knights player being sent to the penalty box, Head Coach Dale Hunter just stood on the bench. No emotion as if he either instructed his players to do so or just wanted to get the heck out of Dodge.
When asked about whether or not Hunter said anything to his players in the dressing room during the second intermission the Knights player responded,
‘well our coaches did say not to be getting so wound up. I mean like it was a frustrating game’
I asked about whether it was a game plan decision amongst the players or if it was just mental mistakes, ‘again, it was just a frustrating game. Especially after winning like we did last night (Friday) Then come out and lose like this tonight… just frustrating.’
By the sounds of it Hunter didn’t really want to control his boys either. Afterall there was a time, and still is a time where London Knights hockey is based on two things. An absolute beating on the scoreboard and a beating on the ice. Last night was the latter.
Sarnia coach Jacques Beaulieu didn’t help the matters by continually marching his top guys out on the ice to add to the Stings lead. But you can not blame a coach for wanting to use the preseason as a way to evaluate his talent and line combinations can you. All in all, when I now think back to last nights game it was nothing but a despicable display of lack of discipline and control by the London Knights. How else do you explain trying to mob and attack the Sting’s best players, ‘well I mean we were also trying to frustrate them and get them off their game.’

Well I have to say, It didn’t work when you spent the last 7 minutes of the game down a man… But then again it is only preseason. I mean Gong Show Season.

Comments :

2 comments to “Introduction to Gong Show Hockey aka… Preseason OHL Hockey”
Anonymous said...

I think Dale Hunter has no class, and to coach a bunch of young kids the way he did last night is disgusting. He sits out all his best players and sends the rest out just to get frustrated. How about the London fans who drove down to see a good game and sit through that display of undisciplined players who he does not seem to care about. If you can't beat them, fight them, so sad! The players on both teams deserve to be treated with more respect than that. Hopefully the last laugh will be on you Dale Hunter.

Anonymous said...

Saturday September 3rd 2011 was a dark day for the London Knights organization. Dale Hunter should be ashamed of the way he instructed those young kids to attack the kids on Sarnia. I don't get it, Dale can run up the score and continuously run up the score then lose it when someone attacks one of his players, but when the tables are turned he acts like this? As part owner, president, coach, etc, etc. of the London Knights organization he should issue a public apology for the disgraceful display Saturday, and/or the league should issue a good fine to the Hunters. They don't seem to care about the kids, or instructing them to attack one another, maybe he'll care if his actions affect his chequing account?

Then again, just ask Pierre Turgeon how classy Dale Hunter is.

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