Spits gel after juggle
Locke scores first OHL hat trick
LONDON A little line juggling paid big dividends for the Windsor Spitfires Friday in London against the Knights..
Head coach Bob Jones moved rookie Eric Locke on to the wing with veterans Zack Kassian and Stephen Johnston.
“I won’t lie, Locker actually came and asked if he could play a little wing,” Jones said.
The 16-year-old Locke responded with his first Ontario Hockey League hat trick with Kassian notching four assists and Johnston two assists in a 7-3 win over the Knights before 8,975 at the John Labatt Centre.
“It’s great to play with those guys,” said Locke, who has nine goals on the season.
“I told the coaches I can play the wing and I feel a little more offensive there.”
The five-foot-nine, 171-pound Locke took a backhand feed at the edge of the crease from Kassian to open the scoring less than five minutes into the game.
“You go to the dirty area, you get rewarded,” Jones said.
Despite being outplayed for much of the game, the Knights used the power play to keep things close.
Stephen Sanza’s power-play goal pulled the Knights even after 20 minutes.
“I don’t worry about the score, so much as how we’re playing and I thought we limited them to one or two odd-man rushes (in the game),” Jones said.
The Spitfires got a pair of power-play goals of their own in the second period on brief two-man advantages.
Ryan Ellis needed eights seconds on a 5-on-3 advantage to put Windsor up 2-1.
Jared Knight got the Knights even again before Tom Kuhnhackl scored during another two-man Windsor advantage.
“(Assistant coach) Dave Matsos has drawn up a couple of plays off draws,” Ellis said. “We got goals right away.”
Locke cashed in again from the crease to extend Windsor’s lead to 4-2, but the Knights got to within a goal as Victor Terreri scored late in the final minute of the period on another London power play.
“It kind of reminded me like the last couple years where we would come in and dominate team and get rewarded for it,” Ellis said.
Windsor had a 40-23 edge in shots and held the Knights to just seven shots in the final period to close out the game.
Locke completed his hat trick with Windsor’s first short-handed goal in 22 games this season.
“I’ve had a couple of chances for short-handed goals on breakaways,” Locke said. “It’s about time one went in.”
London had a couple of more power plays in the period, but could draw no closer.
With just over two minutes left in the third period, Alex Khokhlachev gave Windsor some breathing room making it 6-3.
With the London net empty, Ellis added Windsor’s second short-handed goal of the season as Windsor ended a two-game losing streak and had a game decided by more than two goals for this first time in 10 outings.
“You don’t see that a lot for us,” Ellis said.
The Spitfires remain on the road tonight with a game in Sault Ste. Marie against the Greyhounds (7:30 p.m., cable 11, live blog at windsorstar.com).