CHL

OHL: Tavares leads Knights to rout of Majors in debut

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The Canadian Press
1/11/2009 9:02:33 PM
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It didn't take John Tavares long to find a groove with his new team.

Tavares had two goals and an assist in his first game with the London Knights during a 7-3 victory over the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on Sunday. Both goals were exceptional, delighting a near-capacity crowd of 9,070 at the John Labatt Centre.

"It was nice to get one early," Tavares said after playing with a wide array of wingers. "There are a lot of great players here and getting used to them will take some time."

Coach Dale Hunter thinks it will take some time before he settles on a combination that he likes best for the youngster generally considered the No. 1 draft pick at the NHL entry draft in the spring.

"We tried him with everyone; we'll see who works best with him," Hunter said. "I know when we played against him, I had to have somebody just follow him around."

Tavares showed why on both of his goals. He also won 16 of 20 faceoffs, killed penalties and stole a few pucks in nearly 20 minutes of ice time - a workload that will increase in coming games.

Not only did Tavares bring his skills with him from Oshawa, he brought along his superstitions, too. How he manages his sticks is a case in point.

"He has a thing with his sticks - he gets five game sticks ready the night before, puts four in his stall and one near the skate-sharpener," said assistant coach Pat Curcio.

Elsewhere in the OHL, it was: Brampton 2, Barrie 1 (OT); Kitchener 3, Saginaw 2; Niagara 4, Kingston 3 (SO); Oshawa 5, Peterborough 3; Plymouth 7, Ottawa 3; Sarnia 6, Guelph 1; and Windsor 3, Sudbury 2.

At London, Ont., Tavares opened the Knights' scoring midway through the first period with a goal-scorer's goal that brought the capacity 9,090 fans from their seats. It was the essence of anticipation and execution.

Swooping behind the Mississauga goal, the rangy centre pounced on a puck that had nestled against the bottom of the goal inches from the post. With a deft high-speed move, he pulled the puck away from the metal and tucked it in.

His second score came while the Knights were killing a penalty in the second period. Winger Nazem Kadri fought off a Majors' defenceman while powering into the Mississauga zone and got the puck over to Tavares, and his new teammate buried it.

Tavares's assist was a thing of beauty. After a clever puck-to-skate-to-stick manoeuvre as he bore down on the Mississauga defence, he got the puck to Michael Del Zotto - traded with him by Oshawa - and the defenceman put it into the back of the net.

Jared Knight, Tucker Hunter, Vladimir Roth and Matt Clarke also scored for the Knights (32-8-0-1).

Casey Cizikas, Jared Gomes and Rob Flick replied for St. Michael's (22-17-1-1).

Tavares is expected to return to Oshawa for the Top Prospects game on Wednesday night. London returns to action Thursday with a game against Kitchener.

Battalion 2, Colts 1 (OT)

At Brampton, Ont., Evgeny Grachev scored on an overtime power play to lift the Battalion over Barrie.

Grachev's goal came four minutes and 45 seconds into the extra period after Stefan Della Rovere took a slashing penalty. The win helps Brampton (25-14-1-1) erase a 5-3 loss to the Colts in Barrie on Saturday.

Thomas Stajan scored the tying goal for the Battalion. Kyle Clifford opened the scoring late in the first period for the Colts (19-19-3-1).

Rangers 3, Spirit 2

At Saginaw, Mich., Chris MacKinnon opened the scoring 21 seconds into the first period and added an assist as Kitchener edged the Spirit.

Julian Cimadamore and Jeff Skinner added goals for the Rangers (18-21-1-1).

Chris Chappell had a goal and an assist and John Kavanagh also scored for Saginaw (23-15-0-3).

IceDogs 4, Frontenacs 3 (SO)

At Kingston, Ont., Andrew Agozzino had the lone shootout marker as Niagara outlasted the Frontenacs.

Marco Insam, Thomas Middup and Freddie Hamilton scored in regulation for the IceDogs (16-19-4-4).

Nathan Moon scored twice and Stephen Francella added another for Kingston (9-28-4-3).

Generals 5, Petes 3

At Oshawa, Ont., Brett Parnham scored twice to lead the Generals over Peterborough.

Christian Thomas, who was part of the big trade that sent Tavares to London, opened the scoring on a power play seven minutes into the second period. John Padulo and Nick Esposto had a goal and an assist each for Oshawa (19-17-1-4).

Zack Kassian scored twice for the Petes (18-24-0-2). Tony Romano had the other goal, plus two assists.

Whalers 7, 67's 3

At Ottawa, Vern Cooper scored two goals and Plymouth went on to thump the 67's.

Brett Bellemore, Ryan Hayes and Michal Jordan each added a goal and an assist and Joe Gaynor and Tyler J. Brown had single markers for the Whalers (19-19-4-0).

Anthony Nigro scored a pair and Julien Demers added another for Ottawa (24-15-1-2).

Sting 6, Storm 1

At Guelph, Ont., Justin DiBenedetto scored a hat trick as Sarnia hammered the Storm.

DiBenedetto also added an assist for the Sting (20-18-2-3), while Jesse Stoughton scored twice and Jamie Arniel had a goal and two assists.

Josh Shalla had the lone reply for Guelph (24-15-2-3).

Spitfires 3, Wolves 2

At Sudbury, Ont., Dale Mitchell scored the game-winner and added an assist as Windsor defeated the Wolves.

Greg Nemisz and Andrei Loktionov also scored for the Spitfires (36-5-0-1), who won their seventh straight. Scott Timmins added two assists.

John MacFarland and Jared Staal each had a goal and an assist for Sudbury (18-20-1-3).

John Tavares  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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