The London Knights will be without overage defenceman Tommy Hughes when they take the ice Wednesday for Game 4 of the OHL Western Conference semi-finals.
Hughes, who signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers last week, will sit out thanks to a third period slew-footing incident in Monday’s 6-2 loss to the Kitchener Rangers.
The Knights had all but lost the match — the team’s first defeat in a month — when the penalty was called. So, the real damage is not having his services for the fourth game in the best-of-seven series.
“It’s up to our guys to elevate their game,” Knights assistant coach Jeff Paul said. “That’s the way it is, the nature of the playoffs.”
Utility man Tyler Ferry is expected to drop back to the blueline, Paul says.
Unlike the OHL with Hughes, the coaching staff isn’t coming down hard on Justin Sefton, another right-handed defender, who racked up five minor penalties Monday in Kitchener.
They aren’t concerned with the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder’s discipline because London “expects Justin to play with an edge” all the time.
“I think a couple of the calls were a little weak,” added Sefton, who turns 20 on Sunday. “The game got a little rough, a little out of hand, which kind of plays in my favour. But, I think it’s about checking my emotions and doing the right things for the team.”
Sefton employs an in-your-face brand of hockey that often relishes under the post-season spotlight. It can garners aggressive attention from opponents and fans, too, which seemed to lead to frustration Monday.
“Their fans are going to come after us a bit,” he said. “But it’s hockey, right? We have it here. When teams come in our barn, they get the same treatment. For us, it’s about controlling what’s inside the glass. If we do that, we’ll win games.”
London forward Brett Welychka is likely to join Hughes in the press box Wednesday.
Still suffering from a head injury sustained in the clinching game over the Saginaw Spirit, the Londoner took part in the “black aces” skate Tuesday, which is reserved for next-game scratches.
Stolarz remains London’s No. 1 net man
Knights goalie coach Bill Dark says Anthony Stolarz, who was pulled in the second period of Game 3 after allowing four goals on 20 shots, will start Wednesday.
In the six playoff games before Tuesday, Stolarz had stopped 201 of 209 shots — good for a solid .962 save percentage.
Griffith inks pro deal
Seth Griffith, Knights assistant captain and offensive leader, has been signed by the Boston Bruins to an entry-level contract.
Boston drafted the Wallaceburg native in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL draft.