Kasper Halttunen of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights recorded a second-period hat trick as part of a 9-3 Knights victory to end three games in three nights in three different cities.
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The win moved London past the Soo Greyhounds and into second place overall in the OHL standings.
It also gave the Knights near matching bookends to wrap up their northern road trip after falling 9-2 in Sudbury on Friday.
London now trails the Kitchener Rangers by just three points for first overall. Kitchener has lost their last two games.
Easton Cowan’s tenth goal of the year came short-handed at the 3:45 mark of the first period and had London up 1-0.
With 1:39 remaining in the opening period Colts defender Grayson Tiller took a pass off a faceoff in the London zone and from the right point sent a shot through a maze of players into the Knights net to tie the game.
Halttunen scored his 16th goal of the season on a second-period power play to stretch his point streak to ten games. The Sharks prospect slammed home a cross-crease feed from Jacob Julien. Julien now has points in seven consecutive games.
Julien put London ahead 3-1 as he knocked in a gorgeous pass at 7:05 of the second period.
Just 47 seconds later Knights rookie defenceman Henry Brzustewicz ripped in a wrist shot for his first goal in the Ontario Hockey League.
Exactly eleven seconds later Barrie tightened the London lead to 4-2 as Kashawn Aitcheson scored but then bang-bang blasts by Halttunen earned him his first career hat trick and the Knights led 6-2.
Before the second period ended London added two more: a Gazizov bank shot squeezed past Sam Hillebrandt and into the Colts net and Kaeden Johnson fired a shot off the post and in for his fourth goal of the season and the score sat at 8-2 for the Knights through 40 minutes.
Ruslan Gazizov scored his second of the game with 1:13 to go in the third period and then Nolan Nelson completed the scoring with his first-ever OHL goal for Barrie.
Halttunen ended the night with three goals and an assist. Gazizov had two goals and two assists and Julien and Cowan had a goal and two helpers apiece.
London’s power play remained hot by going 3-for-5 in the game. The Knights now have 13 goals on the man advantage in their last 27 chances.
The teams gave the goalies a workout as they combined for 90 shots on net. Michael Simpson made 35 saves for London and Hillebrandt and Ben West combined to make 43 stops for the Colts.
Knights set to host Teddy Bear toss
London and Sarnia will meet at Budweiser Gardens on Tuesday, Dec. 5 for the Knights annual Teddy Bear Toss in support of the Salvation Army. Easton Cowan scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal for London last year in a game against the Oshawa Generals. The record for Teddy Bears at Budweiser Gardens was set back in 2012 when Seth Griffith scored and brought down a total of 10,671 plush toys.
Kuokkanen leading Redhawks
Former Knights forward Janne Kuokkanen currently leads the Malmo Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League in scoring. Kuokkanen has seven goals and 19 points in 20 games for Malmo. The Oulunsalo native spent the 2016-17 season in London and was a draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. Kuokkanen played briefly for the ‘Canes and then moved on to play two seasons with the New Jersey Devils before heading to Switzerland in 2022-23 and then Sweden this year.
London returns home on Dec. 1 to host the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m., at Budweiser Gardens.
The Steelheads have been leading the Central Division for nearly all of the 2023-24 season. They have a great deal of young talent in Porter Martone and Jakub Fibigr and sit number three in the OHL in allowing the fewest goals against.
Coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
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