Look who’s back wanting more
Trade deadline acquisitions have Knights primed for Memorial Cup repeat
OSHAWA — Mitch Vande Sompel knows what a winning atmosphere feels like.
The defenceman was with the Generals two years ago when Oshawa won its fifth Memorial Cup. Now a member of the Knights following a Jan. 9 trade, Vande Sompel believes London is ready for a lengthy playoff and a shot at repeating as Memorial Cup champions.
“I think we have the skill for sure,” said the New York Islanders prospect. “It’s definitely a different team, my year that we won it was more of a grinding style. We had a good power play (and) we capitalized when we needed to.
“(In London) it’s more of a fastpaced, skilled team. It’s different, but at the same time you get the similar vibe, hopefully going forward we can do that.”
Vande Sompel was one of three trade deadline acquisitions made by Dale Hunter’s club three weeks ago. The Knights also acquired forwards Mitch Stephens from the Saginaw Spirit and Dante Salituro, who was playing professionally in the ECHL before his OHL rights were traded from Ottawa to London.
The new acquisitions have helped London to a 6-1-2 record in nine games since the trade deadline.
Heading into last weekend’s three-game, three-night stretch London (32-8-7) owned the league’s best winning percentage (.761). However, a visit from division-rival Erie last Friday saw the new-look Knights suffer their first regulation loss. Erie was without leading scorer Alex DeBrincat in the 5-3 win while London was without several players due to injury and illness, including leading scorer and Buffalo Sabres prospect Cliff Pu and Anaheim Ducks 2016 first-rounder Max Jones. Stephens stepped up in Pu’s absence, scoring three goals and two assists before adding the shootout winner in London’s 7-6 comefrom-behind victory over Owen Sound on Saturday.
Then on Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect added two goals in a 4-0 win over Oshawa. The 19-year-old forward now has six goals and six assists in nine games with London.
“He works so damn hard to get into scoring chances,” said Hunter. “He’s a good two-way player. That’s what we need here, that’s why he got drafted in the National Hockey League.”
Mitchell Stephens was one of three players acquired by London at the Ontario Hockey League trade deadline.