The OHL final doesn’t start until next Thursday, but already shots have been fired.
The London Knights sent a tweet egging on their championship opponents, the Niagara IceDogs, on Thursday – less than 24 hours after both teams won their conference final series.
The tweet in question?
The “this” here is the astounding goal Knights star Mitch Marner scored against the IceDogs on Feb. 12 – a play that has earned the Toronto Maple Leaf in waiting a seemingly permanently spot on national highlight shows.
Surely, the IceDogs didn’t need – or want – to be reminded that Marner, after taking a pass from linemate and co-captain Christian Dvorak, went on to embarrass them with his dazzling skill.
Marner cut in from the top of the right circle and put the puck in his skates to trick St. Louis Blues prospect Vince Dunn – who missed Niagara’s conference final sweep over Barrie because of a knee injury. Marner then outwaited goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, another NHL prospect (Carolina), and tucked the puck around him as he skated by. The goal, at 0:41 of the third period, tied the game at one apiece.
It was questionably one of the best goals scored not only in the OHL, not only in the CHL, but in hockey this season.
To make matters worse, Marner - the leading scorer in the OHL playoffs - scored again and assisted on an empty-net goal in a 3-1 London win.
The teams haven’t seen each other since. Thanks to the Knights, the IceDogs got an early fresher course.
However, it appears the IceDogs are looking at the series through a longer lens – as indicated by their Twitter response to the Knights.
The IceDogs, featuring the likes of current NHLers Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton, lost to the Knights in five games in the 2012 OHL final.
The powerhouse Knights – which boasted Olli Maatta, Scott Harrington, Max Domi, Seth Griffith, Vladislav Namestnikov, Jarred Tinordi, Bo Horvat, Chris Tierney, Josh Anderson, Andreas Athanasiou and Greg McKegg – made it all the way to the Memorial Cup final, where they lost 2-1 in overtime to the host Shawinigan Cataractes.
Niagara has a score to settle that goes beyond Marner’s exploits.