London Knights finish sweep of the Rangers with 4-3 win in Kitchener


A second consecutive hat trick from Jacob Julien helped the London Knights to eliminate the Kitchener Rangers in four straight games to advance to the Western Conference championship.
London edged the Rangers 4-3 on April 18 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.Julien became the first OHL player to record two hat tricks in a single OHL series since 2016 when Justin Scott of the Barrie Colts completed the feat against the Mississauga Steelheads.Julien accomplished it in back-to back games, both on the road in front of loud Kitchener crowds.Julien and the Knights got going early again as they scored inside the first minute for the second straight game.Julien kept a Rangers clearing attempt in at the blue line and sent a pass to the right side to Ruslan Gazizov and he gave it right back to Julien, who ripped in his fourth goal of the post-season feed just 39 seconds into the game. Story continues below advertisement

The Rangers tied it at the 11:15 mark of the first period as a Carson Rehkopf shot went off the shoulder of Michael Simpson and into the net and the teams went to the first intermission tied 1-1.Julien completed his hat trick in the second period as he scored twice to give London a 3-1 lead.Just 54 seconds after Julien’s third goal, Kasper Halttunen deflected a Sam Dickinson shot past Jackson Parsons and into the Kitchener net to push the Knights advantage to 4-1.

Kitchener pushed back as Trent Swick roofed a shot on a drop-pass from Matt Sop in tight with just 18 seconds to go in the second period to make it 4-2 heading to period three.

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The Knights kept the Rangers well away from their zone through the first half of the third period as they limited Kitchener to just one shot, but with 2:47 remaining Swick tipped in a Filip Mesar shot to get the Rangers to within a goal. However, a couple of key saves late by Simpson helped London to close out a win in the game and the series.Shots were 29-29.Kaleb Lawrence did not play for the Knights after being given a five-game suspension for a hit on Simon Motew of the Rangers. Motew and Olivier Savard missed the game for Kitchener due to injury. Story continues below advertisement

London is now 10-3 all-time against Kitchener in the playoffs.Knights and Rangers combine for five picks in OHL U18 Priority SelectionThe Ontario Hockey League held its U18 Priority Selection on April 17, giving teams a chance to select players who went undrafted in 2023 but have developed into potential OHL players.The Windsor Spitfires took Halton Hurricanes U18 AAA goaltender Michael Newlove with the first overall pick. The London Knights also went to the same Hurricanes team for their first round selection as they chose winger Kyle Henneberry. London’s only other pick in the draft was used on right-shot defender Jake Begin from the Ottawa Myers Automotive U18s.

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Kitchener drafted goaltender Erik Maki of the Whitby Wildcats U18s in the first round and used their remaining selections on forwards getting centre Jake LaBrash from the Upper Canada Cyclones U18s and winger Josh Giordano from the North York Rangers U18s.Elgin-Middlesex Canucks centre Zander Kechego went 19th overall to Saginaw.Two members of the London Jr. Knights U18s were drafted, and the Owen Sound Attack selected goalie Mason Costa and defenceman Max Davidson went to Mississauga/BramptonFormer Knight Nic Mattinen signs with Maple LeafsNever say never. Story continues below advertisement

Nearly eight years after the Toronto Maple Leafs called Nic Mattinen’s name at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Mattinen has officially signed a contract with the team. The road Mattinen has taken is similar to the drive from London to Kitchener — if you went through Wawa on the way.At the start of the 2017-18 OHL season, Mattinen was traded to the Flint Firebirds and then wound up going to Hamilton in another deal where he was part of a second OHL championship roster. Mattinen finished his major junior career in Oshawa and then went home to attend the University of Ottawa where he spent three seasons with the Gee Gees.After finishing his third season in U Sports, Mattinen played eight games in the American Hockey League with the Laval Rocket and then Europe where he played a season in Austria and this past year in Germany and now he is back in North America and back pursuing the dream of playing in the NHL.

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