London Knights: Back in time — May 23

This is part of an ongoing series in which we look back on amazing moments in London Knights history. Each day, we’ll bring you a new memory leading up to the anniversaries of the team’s Memorial Cup championships in 2005 and 2016.

The perfect day feels pretty tough to find during a pandemic.

But if there was to be a day that the London Knights called perfect, May 23 might just be it.

It doesn’t celebrate a key anniversary in team history. May 23 was not the day that ownership changed hands or a championship was won but based on historical results against teams at the highest level of junior hockey it is flawless.

The Knights have gone a perfect 3-0 in games played on May 23.

And they haven’t been forgettable victories. London has outscored a combination of the Kelowna Rockets, the Saskatoon Blades and the Brandon Wheat Kings by a collective 19-4 score.

Three games. Three decisive wins. Against three talented hockey teams.

May 23, 2005 – London 4 Kelowna 2

After a mind-bending roller-coaster of a ride through the Knights’ first game at the very first Memorial Cup in London, the Knights had to deal with the likes of Shea Weber, Blake Comeau and 12 other returnees from the defending champion Kelowna Rockets.

Both teams were less than fresh following emotional overtime games.

London had come back from a 3-1 deficit against Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic and had won 4-3 in OT on opening night. The Rockets had lost a 3-2 double-overtime thriller against the Ottawa 67’s the day before the London-Kelowna meeting.

The Rockets gave the Knights an early scare in the game as Troy Bodie put Kelowna ahead 1-0 just 39 seconds into the game.

London reeled off four straight goals after that including one that controversially sailed across the goal line and in behind Rockets goalie Kristofer Westblom after hitting the inside of the goal post.

May 23, 2012 – London 6 Saskatoon 1

The game between London and the Saskatoon Blades is still the only appearance the Knights have ever made in a Memorial Cup tie-breaker. London and the Blades were also going head-to-head for the second time in the 2013.

That year’s tournament was marked by a whole lot of lopsided finishes. More than half of the games (five out of nine) were decided by at least three goals.

Matchup number two between the teams resembled the first game about as much as an orange looks like a cement mixer.

The Knights and Saskatoon opened the 2013 Memorial Cup schedule with a tight-fisted 3-2 London win whose result was in doubt into the final period.

The 2013 tie-breaker was all Knights. Twelve Knights players recorded at least a point in a game that saw London jump ahead 6-0 early in the third period before Knights goaltender Jake Patterson’s shutout was snapped with less than ten minutes to go in the game to end things 6-1.

The Blades bowed out in front of their home fans while London advanced to face Portland in the semi-final one night later.

May 23, 2016 – London 9 Brandon 1

The 2016 round-robin matchup between London and the Brandon Wheat Kings was a bit of a surprise.

The shocking part was not that the Knights defeated the Western Hockey League champions, just that they did it by eight goals.

Brandon was an excellent team. They had future National Hockey Leaguers like Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick and John Quenneville on their roster. Brandon scored 316 goals and won 48 games in 2015-16 and they seemed poised to make noise in Red Deer that year.

But that night, every shot London took seemed to have a chance to go in.

Christian Dvorak opened the scoring and later completed a hat trick. Mitch Marner had four assists, Olli Juolevi had three assists and Cliff Pu chipped in a goal and two helpers.

The Knights scored on nearly one of every three shots they took against Brandon.

They led 4-0 after the first period and 7-1 through two and completed the most lopsided victory in their Memorial Cup history as they chalked up their 15th consecutive post-season win.


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