Knights pro­vide mid-sea­son mo­ment of truth for At­tack

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - SPORTS - GREG COWAN SUN TIMES STAFF

“Let’s call a spade a spade, they’re the favourite right now, and we need to find a way to re­ally com­pete against them and win the hockey game.”

Owen Sound At­tack head coach Todd Gill made that state­ment be­fore the Ot­tawa 67’s traded for the league’s best goal­tender in Mike DiPi­etro, but the sen­ti­ment re­mains the same.

This Satur­day’s game in­side the Bayshore be­tween the Knights and At­tack looms larger, and could mean much more, than three 20-minute pe­ri­ods of stick and puck.

If the At­tack take down the best in the west per­haps the core of the vet­eran team sways the team brass for one more ride into the play­offs to­gether be­fore the pro­fes­sional leagues come call­ing.

It’s never wise to make long-term de­ci­sions based on short-term data, but it’s tempt­ing. There might still be room for belief.

If Owen Sound plays flat, un­in­ter­ested, or are sim­ply over­pow­ered, then Dale DeGray’s hand is all but forced, and the team could look very dif­fer­ent in 2019.

“I’m sure as we get to Christ­mas, or just after Christ­mas, I would like to be­lieve we know where we’re go­ing,” said DeGray re­cently.

Satur­day night’s game will of­fer the best road map.

What bet­ter team than the Lon­don Knights to play ad­ver­sary in the At­tack’s mid-sea­son ap­praisal?

Owen Sound was able to take both Nick Suzuki and Markus Phillips in the first round in 2015 be­cause of the Vic­tor Mete trade to Lon­don. The DiPi­etro trade may have made Ot­tawa the favourite, but the Knights goal­tend­ing duo of Jor­dan Kooy and Joseph Raay­mak­ers has been lights out.

The Knights have an eight­point cush­ion on Guelph atop the Mid­west Divi­sion stand­ings as of Thurs­day morn­ing, and lead the At­tack by nine points with three games-in-hand.

“It will be a mat­ter of just see­ing how we ride these next few weeks to a month out, and see­ing where we’re at,” said DeGray. “We can al­ways use picks, and we can al­ways use ex­tra young bod­ies.” “It’s a huge test,” said Gill. Puck drops at the Harry Lum­ley Bayshore Com­mu­nity Cen­tre at 7:30 p.m., on Satur­day.

Mak­sim Sushko will not be in the line-up as he has joined Team Be­larus at the 2019 IIHF World Ju­nior Divi­sion 1A Cham­pi­onship in Ger­many.

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