The inspiration for Liam Foudy’s cheeky – and clutch – penalty shot goal came from the world’s best hockey player.
“I thought up some possible moves and saw (Connor McDavid) try this one a couple of days ago,” the Knights forward said of his second-period flip shot, the deciding tally in a 4-1 victory over Saginaw before 9,036 Friday at Budweiser Gardens. “I don’t have the best percentage on penalty shots and breakaways, so I wanted to try something different.”
The motivation to make it work, though, came from a Windsor Spitfires rookie.
“My brother (Jean-Luc) scored on a penalty shot (Thursday against Flint),” he said. “I knew I had some pressure. He was going to give it to me if I didn’t score.”
It fooled Saginaw’s Ivan Prosvetov, the lanky and acrobatic netminder.
It happened in front of former Knights GM Basil McRae, now part of the Blue Jackets brass who was there to check on the NHL club’s latest first rounder.
Foudy scored for the second time in a month and helped shatter the Spirit’s impressive 12-game streak without a regulation loss.
The Knights win stopped a rare two-game skid on home ice and suppressed memories of Guelph’s five-goal eruption in the third period Tuesday.
“We knew we had to be better in the third,” Foudy said. “We needed to hold onto that lead and play well and we did.”
Paul Cotter delivered his second two-goal performance of the season. He blasted home the tying goal off a Connor McMichael faceoff win in the second, then tipped home a Joey Keane shot in the third for some insurance.
“That translates from our practices,” the Vegas prospect said. “We have really emphasized game-like situations and making sure every shot is a goal. Those bounces we get are a direct translation from that.”
Some of it, of course, stemmed from old-fashioned redemption after falling to the Soo Greyhounds and the Storm in the last week.
“Any loss, especially at home, is really going to bite at us,” he said. “We came back really fierce.”
BOOING BIGGERS: Shortly after Foudy’s goal, the Knights faithful quickly became angered at a sequence that saw Saginaw d-man Hayden Davis shove London’s Nathan Dunkley repeatedly back to the ice behind the Spirit net, then cross-check him after he finally got up.
None of that warranted a call, but young referee finally threw his arm in the arm after Dunkley retaliated with a pretty hard slash.
At worst, it should have been coincidental minors. Instead, the Spirit had a power-play opportunity to try to tie it. The prolonged boos that cascaded down on the ice until the end of the period were reminiscent of old times at the Ice House.
“It was probably one of the loudest (times) I’ve ever heard the Bud,” Foudy said with a grin. “Having the fans at our back is special and hearing them that loud was pretty cool. With the new guys we brought in at the trade deadline and for the young guys to hear that, it’s pretty special.”
Dunkley said that crowd response brought a jolt of energy to the team that carried into the third.
“We came out flying and just outworked them,” he said. “I thought there should have been a penalty on Davis there and I reacted. But that’s hockey. Sometimes you get the calls and sometimes you don’t. It would’ve been a tough feeling if they cashed in there. Luckily the (penalty killers) stood on their head and (goalie Joseph) Raaymakers came up big.”
The Sarnia native played for Guelph, Sault Ste. Marie and Erie during a long OHL career. Interestingly enough, he was originally a Knights fifth-round draft pick in 2004, but was traded to the Storm before ever suiting up for London.
OTTAWA ON DECK: If you thought the Guelph and Saginaw games had some extra juice to them, the Knights ultra-tough Shark Week continues Saturday afternoon against the league-leading 67’s, who pounded Sarnia on Friday.
Mikey DiPietro didn’t play for Ottawa, so the former Spitfires goalie will be well-rested to face his old rivals at the Bud.
“It’ll be just like this one,” Foudy said. “Two top teams and we’re battling for first. It’ll be another good game to watch. We’re at the top of the league for a reason.”
CONDITIONS ATTACHED: The Knights will receive a third-round pick from Erie if the 19-year-old d-man Jacob Golden plays an over-age season in the OHL. That is expected to be the case for the Wild prospect, who will get a better opportunity to play premium minutes over the next year-and-a-half. He wasn’t going to get that chance being the sixth d-man here. London’s conditional sixth-round pick from the Emmet Pierce deal to Flint becomes a fifth if the big forward appears in 50 OHL games. He dressed Thursday and scored a goal for the Firebirds in his debut.
TRIBUTE TO 61: Rick Nash’s retirement Friday rekindled a lot of shares on social media of some of the spectacular highlight-reel goals during his NHL career. The one from a decade ago where he dekes through every Phoenix Coyote before finishing got a lot of run and stands out as of his signature moments.
He didn’t enjoy a lot of postseason success, especially in Columbus, but that didn’t affect his standing as a premier player around the game.
“Special player,” London coach Dale Hunter said. “You see how he went to the Olympics for Canada and how he was regarded there. When he came to us, we were a little light up front and he had to play the top line at 16 years old and did well. Other teams were hitting him and it never bothered him. He had the top competition every night and that’s what made him a special player.
“He faced all that really young and excelled.”
AROUND THE RINK: The Knights and Spirit play three more times, including the final weekend of the regular season. It should be a colourful matchup the rest of the way. Even London over-ager William Lochead, who played six years of London minor hockey with Saginaw blue-liner Justin Murray, were jawing at each other in this game. Murray and fellow Londoner Mason Millman each ended up in the Spirit sin bin during the game . . . London’s biggest kill was the Dunkley infraction, but they also killed off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Alex Turko late in the third . . . The Knights dominated the faceoff dot, winning 41 of 55 draws. The Spirit had the advantage early until the tide turned . . . McMichael was named the Knights December player of the month for scoring 19 points in 11 games . . . The Knights plan on wearing their polarizing Spider-Knight eggplant and teal jerseys from the 1990s Saturday as part of a superhero promotion.
Knights 4, Spirit 1
London goals: Paul Cotter (2), Liam Foudy, Kevin Hancock
Saginaw goal: Ryan McLeod
Next: The Knights face Ottawa Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens
At Budweiser Gardens
Knights 4, Spirit 1
1. Liam Foudy, Knights
2. Paul Cotter, Knights
3. Joey Keane, Knights
Penalties – Millman, Sag (holding) 3:23, Dunkley, Ldn (tripping) 9:22, McMichael, Ldn (tripping) 15:15.
1. Saginaw, McLeod 14 (unassisted) 0:43
Shot fooled Raaymakers
2. London, Cotter 5 (McMichael) 5:29
Right off the draw
3. London, Foudy 16 (penalty shot) 14:00
Cheeky flip shot
Penalties – Busdeker, Sag (holding) 8:36, Dunkley, Ldn (slashing) 16:53.
4. London, Cotter 6 (J. Keane, Regula) 5:11
Tipped in front
5. London, Hancock 33 (Boqvist, Raaymakers) 18:34 (en)
Sealed the deal
Penalties – Murray, Sag (slashing) 2:52, Turko, Ldn (high-sticking double minor) 14:42, Murray, Sag (hooking) 16:45.
Shots on goal by
Saginaw 4 11 13—28
London 7 7 12—26
Goal: Saginaw: Prosvetov (L, 21-8); London: Raaymakers (W, 17-6)
Power plays (goals-chances): Sag 0-5; Ldn 0-4
Referees – Brandon Biggers, Ben Wilson; Linesmen – Kyle Flemington, Kevin Hastings
Attendance: 9,036 (9,036)
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