May 7, 2012

Knight, London up 2-1 over Hamilton, Niagara in OHL finals

By Jesse Connolly

Ice Dogs d-man Dougie Hamilton (right) looks on as Mark Visentin makes a save on Jared Knight (left). (Getty Images)

In an epic battle between what many consider to be the Bruins' top two prospects, Jared Knight and the London Knights took a 2-1 series lead over Dougie Hamilton and the Niagara Ice Dogs in the OHL finals on Monday. 

The Ice Dogs were victorious in the series opener almost entirely thanks to Hamilton, who was named the OHL Defenseman of the Year after the ninth overall pick in last summer’s draft racked up 72 points in just 50 contests. He had two assists and the game-winning goal in double overtime, factoring in on all three goals as Niagara won Game 1 by a score of 3-2.

Despite getting out-shot by a 42-24 margin, the Knights rebound with a 5-3 win in Game 2 on Saturday. Hamilton picked up a helper on the Ice Dogs second goal, as Andrew Agozzino struck twice in the first period to give Niagara an early 2-0 lead. But London then scored four straight goals, with Knight assisting on the fourth tally on the power play with 13:31 gone in the middle frame.

That goal proved to be the game-winner, as Agozzino scored to pick up the hat trick to cut the lead to 4-3, but London iced it when Ryan Rupert completed his hat trick with an empty-netter.

On Monday, both Bruins prospects were held in check. Niagara took a 2-1 lead late in the second on a goal from Hamilton’s older brother, Freddie, but Austin Watson’s goal with 1:32 to go in the middle frame knotted things up.

With just 3:28 left in regulation, Knights center Chris Tierney beat Mark Visentin, putting London ahead 3-2. Goalie Michael Houser stopped all nine Niagara shots he faced in the final period.

The Ice Dogs will host Game 4 at the Gatorade Garden City Complex on Wednesday night. The winner of the series moves on to play for the Memorial Cup.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.