On Thursday September 19th, 2002, the Peterborough Petes kicked off their 47th season with a tilt against the London Knights. The game was not only the opener for the Petes and Knights, but also the first game of the 2002-2003 Ontario Hockey League season. Prior to the game, OHL commissioner Dave Branch gave a much-deserved tribute to longtime Petes executive Herb Warr. Warr has become synonymous with the Peterborough Petes, and after 35 years of service, retired following the 01-02 season.
The Knights, who outshot the home squad 11-5, dominated the first period.
Petes goalie David Currie was forced to make several key early saves, and had to battle many rebounds. The young Peterborough defence seemed reluctant to clear traffic from the front of the net. Although the Knights failed to score in the opening frame, they were clearly the better team.
Period two began with an early goal by the Knights Mike Stathopolous, who received a pass from Peterborough native and NHL draft hopeful Cory Perry, and netted the first goal of the OHL season. Stathopolous would add his second of the game later in the period, however the rough play would overshadow the Knights second marker. Midway through the period, Currie was bowled over, inciting a scrum beside the Petes net. Knight’s captain Danny Bois delivered a high-stick, that bordered on a spear, to Petes winger James Edgar. Bois was given a match penalty, much to the delight of the 2700 plus Peterborough fans. The play did nothing to refute the dirty image the Knights have received over the past couple of seasons, as they have been involved in numerous brawls and other altercations. Although the Petes could not take advantage of the powerplay, their level of play increased, giving more hope for the third period.
Early in the third, Petes rookie Greg Williams scored his first ever OHL goal to give the Petes hope. As the final period wore on, the Petes began to control the play. Rookie Jordan Morrison, who dazzled with some impressive moves earlier in the game, led a two-on-one with Greg Chambers, who took a smooth pass from Morrison and converted past Knights goalie Chris Houle to tie the game and force overtime.
The Petes controlled the overtime period, and the 4-on-4 rule provided a great deal of excitement. When all was said and done, the Petes managed a 2-2 draw. The Petes were lucky with the tie, after a rough first period.
As expected, the play was sloppy, especially early, but the Petes showed great character and hussle to earn a point in their first game. The maroon and white, however, still had two more games over the opening weekend, against the Mississauga Ice Dogs (unbeaten in the pre-season) and the rival Belleville Bulls. David Currie was the most impressive of the Petes, and Jordan Morrison continued to show why he was a first round pick. All in all, it was a good first game for the Petes, in a season filled with high expectations.