THE CANADIAN PRESS
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — The London Knights are one win away from their second Memorial Cup appearance in franchise history.
Michael Houser made 36 saves and the Knights beat the Niagara IceDogs 4-1 on Wednesday to take a stranglehold of the Ontario Hockey League final series.
The Knights have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven final, and can earn their spot at the Memorial Cup with a win at home on Friday. London has won three straight after losing the series opener in double-overtime. London’s only other appearance in the CHL final was in 2005, when Corey Perry’s Knights beat Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic 4-0 in the final.
"We felt we deserved to win," said Knights head coach and general manager Mark Hunter. "The whole team is committed to trying to win a Championship here, and it’s been easy to coach when you have guys that will sacrifice their bodies. It’s been a pleasure to watch."
Ryan Rupert, Vladislav Namestnikov, Chris Tierney and Matt Rupert scored for London.
Myles Doan replied for Niagara, while Mark Visentin turned aside 17 shots in the loss.
Ryan Rupert’s nifty breakaway goal 3:31 into the first period opened the scoring for the Knights. It was Rupert’s ninth of the playoffs.
Namestnikov scored on the power play 7:47 into the second period, then Tierney made it 3-0 London at 13:56.
"We got a couple of quick goals and you can tell they started to get frustrated," Namestnikov said. "In the end of the day we’re just happy we got the win."
Myles Doan beat Houser 6:23 into the third period to make it 3-1 but that’s all the IceDogs could muster.
Matt Rupert closed out the scoring just under a minute after Doan’s goal.
Niagara outshot London in every period, including 12-4 in the first, and 37-21 overall.
"We have to play our best game on Friday to keep this going," said IceDogs head coach and general manager Marty Williamson. "We know we have to be better then tonight — just too many mistakes and they capitalized with their odd-man rushes."
Niagara defenceman Brock Beukeboom left the game late in the second period with an undisclosed injury.
The Knights were 1-for-4 on the power play, while the IceDogs went 0-for-4.
"We’re just worrying about one game," Niagara forward Alex Friesen said. "We can’t look at it to win three games in a row, we just have to worry about Friday night. I believe in this team. We have a lot of character and I know we’re going to play our best game on Friday and that’s what we’re preparing for right now."