Yates Cup puts Western Mustangs’ offensive line front and centre.
Liam Foudy has a busy weekend with two Knights games and two with Team OHL
Last season, Liam Foudy was added to the Canadian Hockey League’s top prospects game as an injury replacement.
He returned to London among the most dangerous offensive players in the OHL and had an eyeopening second half that led to a first-round NHL selection.
The hope is his experience with the Canada-Russia Series this week will have a similar impact.
“Usually it’s a big honour to play in those games,” said the Knights forward, who suited up in Team OHL’s 3-1 victory Thursday in Sarnia. “It shows your skill and hard work has paid off to make an all-star team, you’d almost say.”
Foudy is in the midst of four games in five days. He played Friday against Sudbury and has a Sunday afternoon date with Kitchener on deck before rejoining Team OHL for Monday’s tilt in Oshawa.
Being invited to both games usually means Hockey Canada’s scouts want to take an extra look at him before their world junior selection camp next month.
“They watch you all year but these two games are big for them,” Foudy said. “Getting invited to the camp would be pretty cool. It would be a big confidence booster and it’s every kid’s dream to play for Team Canada.”
Foudy possesses the same sort of speed that made linemate Alex Formenton, who will also play in Monday’s contest, a valuable member of the reigning world junior gold medal team at age 18.
“Every time Liam has played international hockey, he’s always done really well,” London associate GM Rob Simpson said. “He seems to score. He brings speed. He can also play top line, second, third. You can do multiple things. When the speed is there, they’re an asset. Most times in small tournaments, it’s nice to have players like that. Injuries happen and if a player like him gets hot, you can bump them up (in the lineup). I’d like to see them get a chance to showcase what he can do.”
Since Formenton’s return, Knights coach Dale Hunter has matched him on a line with Foudy, along with penalty killing duty together.
There is a lot of offensive potential with the twin turbos.
“It’s tough for teams to defend having two pretty fast guys on the same line,” Foudy said. “It brings a lot of room to everyone else there. I’m trying to find my groove. I missed a few games with injury early and it set me back. But we’re winning games and that’s all that matters.”
With Adam Boqvist’s return from injury after missing four games, Hunter paired the 18-yearold Swede with over-ager William Lochead while keeping Evan Bouchard with Alec Regula, his
partner from last year.
“It’s nice to have everyone back and see what it looks like and what we need to do,” Simpson said. “Alec and Evan had such a good chemistry and Alec showed he could play on his left side. For now that’s
something we’re going to keep.”
The Knights are encouraging Boqvist to continue jumping into the play, but are trying to limit to those opportunities where it creates an odd-man rush.
“There has to be a level of freedom to his game,” Simpson said. “At the same point, you have to teach him when those reads are and they’re not on every shift. You don’t want to create a 3-on-3 and sacrifice the defensive side.”
The Knights sputtering power play received an early boost on a fine individual effort from leading gunner Connor McMichael.
The second-year forward ripped a shot far side past Sudbury goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with two seconds left in London’s second power-play attempt late in the first period.
ThatwasonlytheKnightsseventh goal with the man advantage.
“Early on (in the season), our entries needed to be better,” Simpson said. “We weren’t winning faceoffs, then you’re going down the ice to retrieve and that kills 30 seconds. We’ve been better lately at faceoffs and recoveries. The other facet is we have quite a few new guys who aren’t familiar with what we’re doing yet. We want to take what the penalty kill gives you and manipulate and have some deception.
“We teach them how to read the play and play within it. That’s something that can improve with more time for the coaches to work with them.”
Sudbury Wolves winger Nolan Hutcheson leaps to screen London Knights goalie Joseph Raaymakers but ends up making the save by getting hit in the leg by a point shot during the first period of their OHL game at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night. At left, Knights forward Liam Foudy and Sudbury Wolves twins Drake (28) and Darian Pilon follow the bouncing puck.