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Murray silences London crowd with shutout

John Murray gained his 2nd career shutout but not without some adventures in the crease.

It sounds awkward to say, but of late the John Labatt Centre has not been home-sweet-home for the London Knights when facing the Rangers.  The Rangers dating back to last season had beaten the Knights in overtime, dashed London's chances of a record 3rd consecutive 50-win season in London, earlier this season, the Rangers' pushed the Knights' to the limit losing after a 12-round shootout.  Unlike some of those close battles, this one wasn't really in doubt late, furthermore, the Knights were smoothered in their own building.  Despite the Knights' offensive dominance in recent years, the John Labatt Centre has not been a home where the Knights are immune to shutouts; they were victims of a 3-0 loss against the Whalers' and one year earlier they employed the parachutes notching a double-shutout (one of the last in OHL history) against the Guelph Storm, on a historic night when the Knights broke the CHL record for unbeaten streaks to start the season.  Unlike some of those games where the JLC was hopping at points this game was anything but thrilling for the home fans, and John Murray made sure of it.

The fun got started very early in this one and while a physical tone was set, it certainly wasn't followed through.  Heavyweights: Brian Soso and Kitchener native David Jarram squared off in the Knights' end, Soso made quick work of his shorter adversary and despite what appeared to be mutual interest in fighting Brian Soso came away with the instigator minor along with the ten minute misconduct.  Shortly after the first London power play of the night concluded without the vaunted Knights' powerplay scoring a goal, and then a couple of minutes later the sputtering Rangers' power play got to work and they caught a big break.  Jakub Kindl lined a shot up advancing from the boards that deflected off of Ryan Martinelli's skate and into the back of the net through Steve Mason's five-hole.  It wasn't a particularly good night for Martinelli, whom lost his usual defense partner: Scott Aarssen after a hit by Cal Clutterbuck on the previous Friday night.  With the Generals struggling in Kitchener, Clutterbuck did little to endear Rangers' fans either.  After that particular incident Jordan Shine was suspended for his efforts in trying to avenge the hit. 

Steve Mason and Todd Perry watch a shot deflect into the air.

The Rangers played a decent first period, but after having some fortunes opening the scoring while on the power play, fortune smiled upon the Rangers again late in the period.  An oddity when the Rangers play their fierce rivals, the Ontario Hockey League only left the two teams with one official.  Unfortuantely Darcy Burchell missed the puck entering the net after far too many pokes at the puck by Matt Halischuk who was in the paint but somehow unharassed.  The puck finally snuck between Mason's pads just over the goal line prior to the big Knights' netminder sweeping the puck out.  The red light went on but from Burchell's vantage point, he couldn't make out the puck, and as a result he tentatively blew the whistle late and let the gentlemen in the video room take care of things.  With a look of absolute and complete confusion in his eyes Burchell skated towards centre ice and sheepishly pointed towards centre ice signalling a goal much to the displeasure of more than 9,000 in attendance.  After a strong first the Rangers' poured it on during the second period but simply did not get the results, the Rangers had three breakaways including Adam Zamec who emerged from the penalty box with the puck on his stick and a clear path to the net.  Zamec hasn't scored all season and wouldn't on this opportunity either.

With the Rangers only holding a 2-0 lead going into the third, John Murray wasn't busy, but had to come up with some timely saves.  The third was clearly London's best period and by virtue Murray's busiest of the night.  The Knights at times were swarming the crease area but whether upright or diving to make stops John Murray didn't allow the Knights to find the back of the net, no mystery as to how he was chosen as first star of the game when the dust settled.  The Rangers sealed it with minutes left in the third period Ryan Martinelli took an ill advised tripping minor late and with the Knights pressing shorthanded in a hurry to find the Rangers' zone, were sloppy in their own end.  They gave Justin Azevedo room to move around the Knights' net and Azevedo worked his way behind Mason and very skillfully tucked the puck past Mason.  Josh Bealieu made things a little ugly in the final minute getiting his stick up on Jakub Kindl while in the offensive zone.  Matt Halischuk's goal continued his goal scoring streak  - now at ten games.  Seemingly frustrated with the Knights' effort all of the three stars went to Kitchener, Halischuk and Pepe were picked after Murray.