Maybe Bo Horvat took a quick look at the standings – London Knights in third place in Midwest Division and only one point in their previous three games – and decided something needed to be done.
Or perhaps he and the other Knights realized that defenceman Olli Maatta was now officially a Pittsburgh Penguin and was not coming back.
Whatever the case, Horvat led his London Knights back to life, getting the first shot goal in the first five seconds, the first goal in the first three minutes and the first assist on the second goal starting off the second period and was the game’s first star as the Knights defeated Kitchener Rangers 3-0 in an Ontario Hockey League game before 8,835 fans Thursday night.
While Horvat has been playing well since returning from the Vancouver Canucks – 13 points in nine games – he did seem to take his Knights teammates along for the ride Thursday night and perhaps for good reason.
With Maatta now gone, there are rumblings that Horvat will be named Knights’ captain as soon as next week. Maatta and Horvat had been the two leading candidates for the job with last year’s captain Scott Harrington now playing for the Penguins’ AHL team.
Before he would discuss his possible new role with the Knights, he answered questions about the other candidate for the job.
“We are all so happy for (Maatta). He deserves every opportunity he gets,” Horvat said. “But we would love to have got him back, that’s for sure.”
Horvat also had a good run at an NHL training camp this year as the Canucks’ first-round selection in this June’s entry draft.
“If Olli came back, he would have had a really good run for captain that’s for sure. He’s a great guy in the room and he brings it every night,” Horvat said.
“Even to have my name floating around as captain is kind of surreal. It would be a huge honour. I haven’t really thought too much about it. I just go with the flow and try and be a leader on and off the ice so far.”
Horvat, Max Domi and Chris Tierney, into an empty net, scored for the Knights who play again Friday night against Erie Otters at the Budweiser Gardens.