If Seth Griffith had not gone 2-for-2 — a record itself — the London Knights and Mississauga Steelheads might have set a world record. As it is, they broke the OHL's record for the longest shootout in league history by a country mile.
Two years ago, Straubing Tigers and EHC Munich were credited with setting a world record after needing 21 rounds to decide a winner after playing to a 4-4 tie. On Sunday, the Knights and Steelheads were within two rounds of tying that mark when Griffith, after every team had run through its entire lineup, beat the Steelheads' Spencer Martin for a 4-3 win. Griffith had been London's first man up about 17 minutes earlier; he was also the day's last since he gave the Knights their 15th consecutive win, the longest win streak in major junior so far this season.
In November 2008, the Windsor Spitfires prevailed over the Saginaw Spirit in a 14-round shootout. So this was the first time the teams batted around before deciding a winner. In Round 19, Knights goalie Kevin Bailie turned away second-timer Dylan Smoskowitz for his 12th consecutive stop. Griffith then snapped Martin's roll of 11 in a row by snapping a shot in glove side.
The shootout started while another OHL game between Ottawa and Windsor was just beginning overtime. Those teams completed OT and a measly five-round shootout; Mississauga and London still needed another 10 minutes to finish.
It was certainly something one would not expect to see any time soon. It was improbable the game was even a shootout, for starters. The Knights had a two-goal lead with six minutes to play, which typically means gave over with the way they defend and block shots. Mississauga got two deflection goals in less than 90 seconds (Smoskowitz off a low shot by Trevor Carrick and Josh Burnside off a sharp pass from Riley Brace) to tie it.
Max Domi also made a filthy move while shooting for the win in the third round, stopping suddenly and getting Martin to drop, but his shot pinged the crossbar.
Bailie came up with two saves when the Steelheads could have won by scoring. Both Rupert and Josh Anderson had game-extending attempts in Rounds 4 and 6, respectively. Then Martin, a NHL draft prospect, dismissed 11 "for the win!" attempts in succession as both teams turned to the depth players and defencemen who have only a handful of OHL goals to their names. As the old hockey cliché goes, the goalie's only expected to make 11 shootout saves in a row; after that, his team has to score. Martin looked pretty intense stomping off the ice after Griffith's decider, so stopping 15-of-19 was no solace to him.
Some levels of hockey, like the IIHF, permit coaches to continue using their best shooters over and over once they go to a sudden-death round. Having a shootout that went so long that it came down to defencemen such as Josh Duhaime (no goals in the OHL) and Tommy Hughes (four in 157 games) might spark some argument that perhaps the OHL should do the same. The other format does ensure a quicker resolution, while one is like deciding a tied baseball game with a home-run hitting contest between the relief pitchers.
However, one random hockey thing that happened thanks to happenstance and two determined goalies isn't a reason to change. It was entertaining to see the tension rise as Baillie and Martin traded saves. There's no need to make a change, since there is no knowing when this will happen again.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.