By Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record
The reality of the streak hit Kyle Platzer after the London Knights won 10 consecutive games.
“I thought this could be something special,” said the rookie forward, who hails from Waterloo. “It wasn’t the winning, but the way we were playing. We were crisp. We were prepared.”
London went on to win 24 straight games, one shy of the Ontario Hockey League record set by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The Knights’ run ended in style with a 6-5 loss to Sarnia in overtime on New Year’s Day.
There were several close calls along the way, such as the 4-3 shootout win over Mississauga — a game that saw both sides each send 19 skaters to try to break the tie. And then there was the 3-2 victory in Owen Sound that saw London’s Seth Griffith notch the winner with four seconds left in the game.
“As nerve wracking as it probably looked from the stands, we were pretty relaxed,” said Platzer, 17. “We knew we were going to win, but we were humble about it. That’s what carried us, our confidence.
“Once the record was in sight, it got a little more tense. It’s over now and we can’t really dwell on it.”
But what a ride it was for the freshman, who grew up playing Waterloo minor hockey before the Knights selected him in the fourth round of the 2011 Ontario Hockey League draft. Emotions were high throughout the run and superstitions crept in.
“The team would always knock on wood before the game,” said Platzer, who grew up cheering for the Rangers at the Aud. “It would kind of lighten the mood and keep everyone not so serious.”
Near the end of the streak, the rookie received a shock of a lifetime when he was told the team needed him on the blue-line.
“I came into practice one day and there was a black jersey hanging in my stall,” said the fourth line centre, who has 16 points in 40 games. “I thought I was getting pranked.”
But it was no joke. Knights’ assistant Jeff Paul was short on defencemen after losing rearguards Nikita Zadorov, Scott Harrington and Olli Maatta to world junior hockey championship tryouts and veteran Kevin Raine to a suspension.
Platzer takes pride in his defensive approach but had never skated on the blue-line at any time during his hockey career.
“I was a little skeptical at first,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to do. It was different. I was pretty nervous, but I thought I did well.”
After a six-game stint, and key returnees back, Platzer was shifted back up front. Soon after, the London streak ended with the record-setting game in sight.
But the hiccup lasted just one game. The Knights got back on the winning track this past Friday in a big way by hammering Sarnia 8-2 before besting Kitchener 3-2 on Saturday.
Streak or no streak, Platzer likes the look of this year’s squad and his role with the club.
“It’s good I can contribute in my first year,” he said. “We have the tools to go real far and I’m excited to see how we’ll do. Our confidence is high especially after that streak. Hopefully, we can get another one going.”