Nic Sima scored his first three goals of the season to record his first career hat trick, as the Saginaw Spirit defeated the London Knights 6-4 at the Dow Event Center in Michigan on Oct. 22.
The game was moved from a 5:30 p.m., start to a 6 p.m., to accommodate a a border delay that the Knights had because of traffic at the Bluewater Bridge on their way into Michigan.
During the game there were two more lengthy delays to review possible Spirit goals but both were helpful for London because both times it was ruled that the puck did not enter the Knight net.
One of those reviews took place during a scoreless first period after Michigan native Dean Loukus shot the puck hard to the Knights crease but London goaltender Owen Willmore made the save. The review determined that Willmore was able to keep the puck away from the goal line in making the stop.
Halttunen took a pass from Jackson Edward coming out of the London zone that cerated a two-on-one with Sam O’Reilly. Halttunen used O’Reilly as a decoy and then ripped a wrist shot past Spirit goalie Nolan Lalonde to make it 1-0 at the 1:28 mark of the second period.
Nica Sima of Saginaw tied the game just 44 seconds later but Halttunen’s second of the game restored the Knights lead at 9:26.
The San Jose Sharks prospect got control of a high flip from Will Nicholl in centre ice and raced into the Spirit end where he unloaded another hard wrister past Lalonde.
Again Sima came back and knotted the score with 4:30 to go in the middle period. Sima took a feed to the left of the London net and banged in his second of the game and the year.
A Joey Willis shot on a late Saginaw power play was ruled a goal on the ice but eventually the call was overturned after video review ruled that the puck hit off the goal post and did not enter the net.
A wild see-saw to start the third period rocked the game back and forth during a span of two minutes and 54 seconds and saw the teams combined for four goals that when the chips had finally settled on the Dow Event Center ice surface the teams sat tied 4-4.
First, Sima completed the hat trick for the Spirit and just 36 seconds later Knights forward Jacob Julien won a race to a puck proving no ill effects after going feet first into the boards earlier in the game. Julien wrapped the puck out front and Will Nicholl lifted home his first goal of the season to tie the game.
Zayne Parekh scored at 3:23 of the third period to put Saginaw back in front 4-3 but London responded just over a minute later when Max McCue found Isaiah George sneaking into the slot and the score was even once again.
Former Guelph Storm forward Valentin Zhugin netted the game winner at 7:20 of the third and then Joey Willis sealed the game with an empty-netter.
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The Spirit fended off a five-minute Knight power play following a slew-footing match penalty to P.J. Forgione to solidify their spot as the top penalty killing unit in in the OHL.
London outshot Saginaw 30-28.
The Spirit auctioned off pink jerseys that they wore for the game in support of breast cancer research.
Foudy joins Evangelista in Nashville
Two former teammates and Knights captains have been reunited on the Nashville Predators. The Preds claimed Liam Foudy on waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 21.
Luke Evangelista and Foudy played two seasons together in London and were a part of the 2019-20 team that was among the league’s elite when the Ontario Hockey League was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foudy had nine goals and 19 points in 90 games with Columbus. He also had 35 points in 41 games with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League. Evangelista scored his first goal of the season on Oct. 21 against the San Jose Sharks. Evangelista has a goal and two assists in six games so far in 2023-24.
There will be much busier times to come on the Knights schedule but between Oct. 23 and Nov.3 they will play exactly one game.
London will host the Ottawa 67’s on Friday, Oct. 27 at Budweiser Gardens. The 67’s have a very deep team and have started to climb up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
They knocked off the Soo Greyhounds 4-1 on Oct. 22 to win their fourth game in five tries.
Coverage will begin at 6:30 on 980 CFPL, at ww.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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