What awaits the Ice House this year? Will it be a version of the 95-96 London Knights or the Knights of the last two seasons?
This Knights team can do some more damage if they get some keys guys returning. Teams like Barrie, Sarnia and Plymouth will be taking the brunt of a lot of games this year instead of giving them. Then again that all depends on how Finley plays for Barrie or if Sarnia gets back Sarno and if Plymouth can get back Legwand. As for the Knights, if the first exhibition game is any indication then the Knights are in good shape. They are coming off a birth in the OHL finals. Last year nobody thought they would make it out of the first round let alone make it to Game 7 of the finals.
WHO IS GONE:
Richard Pitirri – A excellent center. What can’t be said about this guy. He is a faceoff artist who was voted third in the league at faceoffs. Last season he decided to comeback to the London Knights as an overager. He turned down playing with Cincinnati of the IHL to play for them. Well it was probably his best choice as he finished the season with 76 points leaving him 4th on the team. Plus his 34 points in the playoffs was a great accomplishment. This season he will be playing with Portland of the AHL.
Jason Doyle – Acquired from Brampton only a month after the season began Doyle put on a Knights uniform once again. He was drafted by the Knights in the 94-95 season. He began to turn the club in the right direction as the Knights had stumbled outta the blocks. At the time of the trade they were 7 games below .500. In his first game back he got an assist and he sparked the Knights with many hits and his physical presence. He finished with 54 points.
Jason Metcalfe – Since he was acquired with Jay Legault from Oshawa for Adam Colagiacomo, Metter added an attitude to the club that it hadn’t seen since the days of Debrusk, Mcpolin eras. Metter’s attitude and defensive style will be very missed. Hopefully he can earn a spot in the AHL or IHL with Syracuse Crunch or someteam.
Jay Legault – A great power forward who obtained 96 points last season with the Knights. His leadership and scoring ability will be missed dearly. He can come back as an over-ager but Anaheim has other plans for him.
Tom Kostopoulos – This guy is simply amazing. His nickname isn’t Non-Stopoulos for anything. His heart and dedication to hockey is shown on every shift he takes. This guy is so dedicated to the team. He never quits. Pittsburgh got a steal in the draft when they drafted him in the 7th round. If he returns to the Knights his leadership will help the Knights with there young rookies.
Alex Henry – Another player that needs to return. Drafted in the 16th round of the OHL draft, Alex quickly improved his play and now without a doubt he is the best Defensive Defenceman in the league. He adds a physical presence to the Knights blueline that already have some monsters as Erskine, Jancevski and Turner and Reynolds(Barring a trade). If Henry comes back the Knights will have the best defense in the league.
Rico Fata – Although he is not an over-ager he is in the same boat. Will he or won’t he. He likely won’t be back but he will be with the Calgary Flames. If the Knights do however manage to get Rico back that is added bonus and the team can actually go through the OHL playoffs like last year. He is a sniper with a ton of speed. He is also not afraid to mix it up which is good.
Mike Mazzuca – Another player who has heart. Not a lot of talent but is a role player. He knows his role and is very good at it. He is willing to take the 3-5 shifts a game and stir it up. He is a big physical player. He should be dealt to a team with two overagers or is struggling. Mazzuca can turn around a team with his physical presence alone.
Gene Chiarello, G – He comes back and we are heading to another successful season. If he doesn’t than sophomore Bill Ruggiero gets the call and the jury is still out on him.
The Toronto Maple Leafs want Peter Reynolds out of London and that he has asked to be dealt. The Leafs want Reynolds maturing faster than expected. They feel he is no more than a 3rd or 4th defenceman in the Knights organization; so they want him dealt to become a 1st defenceman. Peter is a solid defenceman and barring injuries will likely get 45-50 points this season.