Section E3, Seat 7: London victory pays off for Knights super-fan

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London Knights super-fan Sav Neth, in Michigan watching the Memorial Cup tournament with a front-row seat, had high hopes for his team when he booked a hotel stay there for his family through the tournament.

That advance booking paid off after the Knights defeated their OHL rivals, the host city Saginaw Spirit, in a battle of two unbeaten teams Wednesday night. The 4-2 victory sends the Knights straight to the Memorial Cup final on Sunday, bypassing the semi-finals, and Neth – who’s been sharing what he’s seeing with Free Press readers – to his first national junior hockey championship final as an over-the-top fan watching the action live with a great seat. Here’s what struck Neth about the Knights-Spirit showdown:

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THE CROWD

Just like their teams, Knights and Spirit fans were pretty evenly matched in the crowd, according to Neth. With the tournament being played only three hours away from London, Knights fans are a factor in the Dow Event Center. Neth said there were fans from both sides in his section, with an “awesome ” crowd and “great energy” in the arena. It was “all friendly” between the fans, he said, with high fives and cheers exchanged throughout the game.


THE GAME

Closely matched this year, with the Knights enjoying a slight winning edge in the 10 games they’d played, fans were pumped for a good hockey showdown, he said. “The teams matched up really well against each other,” he said. “It was great to see.” The Spirit scored first, with a lucky bounce off the stick of right-winger Alex Christopoulos. Knights forward Kasper Halttunen scored shortly after, ending the first period deadlocked at 1-1.


THIRD PERIOD INTENSITY

With the game tied 2-2 and only minutes left on the clock, Neth said the third period was an “intense” back-and forth between two teams hungry to get to the final. “The game was on the line,” he said. Easton Cowan eked out two more goals for the Knights before the final buzzer, quickly earning the MVP title from fans, including Neth. “Cowan put the nail in the coffin. He did a great job. Everybody worked really hard and they fought out there.”

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WHAT’S NEXT?

While he waits for Sunday’s final, Neth – he’s the founder of a Facebook-based Knights fan club – said he will meet up with the Knights organization and check out nearby Frankenmuth, Mich,, with his family, squeezing in a little tourism time in the Bavarian-styled town known for its old-style German architecture, chicken dinners and summer festivals. Saginaw will play Western Hockey League champion Moose Jaw in the semi-final Friday night, with the winner moving on to play the Knights on Sunday. The Drummondville Voltigeurs, the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League champions, were eliminated from the competition after the round-robin play. London fans can catch Sunday’s action live at lfpress.com, on the radio at AM 980 CFPL, on television on TSN or at a big-screen viewing party on Dundas Place. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

nbrennan@postmedia.com

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