Around the OHL

London Knights forward Max Jones suspended 12 games for blind-side hit on Owen Sound Attack player

There’s a really good chance Max Jones won’t be playing hockey again this season unless the London Knights make it to the OHL final.

Getting that far won’t be easy with one of their top skaters and best penalty killers banished from the ice.

The Knights power forward spent Friday serving the first of his stunning 12-game suspension for his controversial head check on Attacker Justin Brack Wednesday in Owen Sound. The OHL office took a day-and-a-half to consider Jones’ lightning-quick hit, then brought the thunder down on the 18-year-old NHL first rounder-to-be with an eye-popping bout of supplementary discipline.

The league cited contact with the head, hitting an unsuspecting and vulnerable opponent (which is the very definition of a blind-sided act) and causing a major injury to Brack as the determining factors in reaching the 12-game ban.

The Owen Sound forward did not return to Game 4 Wednesday and he was declared unable to play Friday at Budweiser Gardens, either.

“What we’re trying to do is eliminate checks of this nature,” OHL vice-president Ted Baker said. “The player (Brack) was not in complete control of the puck and the puck was bouncing. He was trying to gain control of it and he was hit (by Jones).

“Unfortunately, there was contact with the head that resulted in serious injury.”

Baker and league commissioner David Branch aren’t about to suggest what Jones should have done as an alternative to running into Brack at high speed in open ice. They have long been accused of trying to legislate hitting out of the game with their recent history of lengthy suspensions.

But it’s clear Jones’ best option would have been to play the puck instead of throwing the hit, which was determined on video to be a shoulder into Brack’s head.

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Owen Sound Attack avoid elimination with overtime win against London Knights at Budweiser Gardens

The Owen Sound Attack are a loose bunch right now.

Sitting in the dressing room before overtime, they really didn’t feel any pressure at all.

“It was actually pretty funny,” said Petrus Palmu, the tiny Finnish forward who kept his team’s season alive with a shocking 4-3 sudden death Game 5 win over the London Knights before 9,046 Friday at Budweiser Gardens. “We laughed. We said in the room let’s have fun. That’s the point. This is one of the best games of the season and we need to enjoy it.

“Now, we can go back to the Bayshore (Sunday afternoon) and have fun again.”

The Max Jones-less Knights were supposed to win this series and do it quickly.

But on the same evening Kitchener, Kingston and Niagara closed out their first-round series, London discovered it will have to get on the bus again and take another crack at the pesky Attack.

They had success in their first two visits earlier this week. The road team has won four of the five games in this wacky set.

“It’s a little deflating (losing in overtime),” London veteran d-man Jacob Graves said. “A little bit of rest would’ve been good but our team is in shape. We don’t need much of a rest. We’re alright here.

“I’m looking forward to going there and beating them.”

There really is no other option.

Lose again, and it’s a roll-the-dice Game 7 on home ice.

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Rangers wrap up series with 5-2 win

KITCHENER — The Kitchener Rangers are moving on in the playoffs. No joke.

The Blueshirts broke a three-year post-season skid on April Fool’s Day with a 5-2 victory against the Windsor Spitfires Friday at the Aud to take the series in five games.

“It’s awesome,” said captain Ryan MacInnis. “The guys are super excited and we can’t wait to do it again.”

It has been a long time coming for the Rangers.

The last time the club won a Western Conference quarter-final was three years ago against the Guelph Storm.

MacInnis was just a skinny 17-year-old rookie at the time. Now, the Arizona Coyotes draft pick is a leader on the ice.

And he got started early Friday.

The game was just 20 seconds old when MacInnis’ cross-crease pass found teammate Brandon Robinson who potted his sixth of the playoffs past Windsor keeper Michael DiPietro for a quick 1-0 lead.

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It’s crunch time for Sting

The comeback quest begins Saturday night.

The Sarnia Sting host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in Game 5 of their Ontario Hockey League Western Conference quarter-final at 7:05 p.m. at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.

After dropping Game 4 in double overtime Thursday in the Soo, the Sting trail the best-of-seven series 3-1 and need to win three straight contests to avoid being upset by the seventh-seeded Greyhounds. However, facing elimination won’t alter the team’s approach, Sting defenceman Jakob Chychrun pointed out.

“We’re not going to change our mentality,” Chychrun said. “I think we know when we play the right way, when we’re working hard in all three zones we’re probably overall the better team I think we just need to play desperate and we should be fine.”

Desperation can be a motivational tool, head coach Derian Hatcher noted.”It’s (potentially) your last game, that’s what I expect to see out of us (Saturday) night, a real desperate hockey team,” he said.

Sting goalie Charlie Graham, who will start Game 5, said a narrowed approach is key.

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IceDogs ice Ottawa

It was something Marty Williamson wanted to be, and something he made sure happened come the OHL trade deadline – a deep, four-line team.

That depth was on full display Friday night in front of a sold out Meridian Centre crowd, as the Niagara IceDogs eliminated the Ottawa 67’s in five games with a 5-2 victory.

Fourth-line forward Kyle Langdon snapped home his first career Ontario Hockey League playoff goal, off a strong forecheck, that turned out to be the game-winner.

“It was pretty unreal,” said Langdon, a 17-year old Thorold native, when asked if that was the biggest goal of his hockey career.

“I’m just going out there and trying to get the boys going. That’s what the fourth line does, provide energy for the team and luckily (Willy) Lochead threw it in front of the net, and I just closed my eyes and shot.”

Williamson was obviously all smiles after the contest, and happy for Langdon.

“That was a pretty goal too,” said Williamson the IceDogs head coach and general manager.

“We’ve got depth, and our depth is playing well,” added Williamson who acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, defenceman Josh Wesley and forward Stephen Harper before the OHL trade deadline in January.

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Scott leaves it all on ice

Surrounded by a group of reporters, Justin Scott, his face covered in sweat, stood outside the Barrie Colts dressing room at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

Exhausted, he could barely muster a smile when linemate Andrew Mangiapane, poking his head out of the dressing room and spotting him, yelled out “Scotter!”

The Barrie overager had just wrapped up a stunning four-goal effort that will easily go down as one of the best single-game playoff performances in franchise history.

His team down 5-3 a little less than eight minutes into the third period to the Mississauga Steelheads and in grave danger of being put on the brink of elimination, Scott wasn’t about to let that happen.

He would score twice to tie the game and then capped it off with the winner just 4:46 into overtime to give Barrie a 6-5 win, tying the best-of-seven first-round OHL playoff series at 2-2.

A loss would have been devastating and left Barrie facing elimination Saturday night on home ice.

Scott, with every playoff game drawing closer to the end of his junior hockey career, wasn’t going to have any of that.

This final journey has only just begun.

“I’m not ready for it to be over yet,” the 20-year-old said.

Scott wasn’t sporting a cape, but he might as well have after the show he put on.

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