Unlike teammates Nikita Zadorov, Max Domi, Seth Griffith, and Scott Harrington, London Knights forward Bo Horvat is not forced to pace himself this weekend.
The powerful and versatile sophomore was not selected to Team OHL’s roster for either of its two games (Thursday in Guelph, Monday in Sarnia) versus Team Russia in the middle leg of the Canada-Russia Super Series.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Horvat, downplaying the snub. “I’m happy for the guys who got chosen. It’s a great honour for them.”
Another Knight, Ryan Rupert, was also picked to represent the league. However, he sustained a shoulder injury recently and is shelved for three to five more weeks.
Although he skated on Thursday — albeit without full equipment — it seems Rupert’s ailment will get in the way of him appearing in the Super Series.
The selection committee, which includes Knights general manager Mark Hunter, has not announced Rupert’s replacement.
Horvat, 17, would be a top fill-in candidate. For now, though, his mind is focused on a back-to-back-to-back weekend for London.
Just seven games ago, the Rodney native notched his first multi-goal game in the OHL versus London’s opponent this Saturday, the Plymouth Whalers.
Between the pipes, the 10-5-0-2 Knights plan on riding the hot hand. London goalie coach Bill Dark says Jake Patterson will get the start against Sudbury on Friday, with Kevin Bailie stepping in the next night.
“I think it would probably be safe to say if Patterson wins, he’ll be back in net on Sunday,” Dark said.
If everything falls into place, Patterson will face his hometown squad, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and local kid Jared McCann, in the weekend finisher.
“I wouldn’t say there’s more pressure to perform at home, but I’m really motivated. I’m really excited,” said McCann, a 16-year-old who played for the London Jr. Knights organization growing up.
Knights assistant GM Rob Simpson was McCann’s head coach last season. He says the fourth-overall pick this year shouldn’t expect special treatment during his first trip to Budweiser Gardens.
“I don’t think we’ll isolate one guy, but maybe a whole line,” Simpson said. “It’s a little bit different than (super rookie Connor McDavid from the Erie Otters), where you really have to pay attention.”
Budweiser Gardens, 7:30 p.m.
Versus: Sudbury Wolves
The hot hand: Josh Leivo (10 goals, 10 assists)
Of note: The Wolves have lost four of their past five games, and own one of the worst penalty killing units in the league. London should pounce on their vulnerability.
Compuware Sports Arena, 7:05 p.m.
Versus: Plymouth Whalers
The hot hand: Rickard Rakell (8 goals, 8 assists)
Of note: Facing the rough-and-tumble squad in Plymouth will be a major test for the Knights. The Whalers have posted a 4-1-1-1 record on home ice this year.
Budweiser Gardens, 2 p.m.
Versus: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The hot hand: Nick Cousins (8 goals, 19 assists)
Of note: The Greyhounds will have Colin Miller, Kevin Spinozzi, and Mark Pettacio back in the lineup after serving supplemental discipline. Two other suspended players — Chris Buonomo and Landon Schiller — will still be out of the lineup.
*Statistics going into Friday night’s games
*This post also appears in Metro London’s Nov. 9 print edition