Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - London Knights - 2005
Spotlight
One on One Turning Point

London Knights - 2005

14 MAY 2013
Danny Syvret of the London Knights.
Danny Syvret of the London Knights. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Canadian Hockey League)
They have been tagged the greatest junior franchise in history, and it would take an immensely compelling argument to counter this statement. CBC Sports Online named the London Knights their team of the year for 2005. "The London Knights are one of the greatest junior teams ever to play," stated Canadian Hockey League president David Branch.

The franchise, making its debut in the Ontario Hockey Association in 1964-65, had not won the Memorial Cup through its 40-year history. But Mark and Dale Hunter had every intention of shaking their franchise's futility. Through crafty trades and clever drafting, the Hunters assembled an incredible roster that went on a tear in the early 2000's.

London Knights and their fans during the 2005 Memorial Cup tournament at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario. (Photo by Dave Sandford /Canadian Hockey League)
In 2003-04, the Knights won 53 games and collected 110 points to boast the best junior record in Canada, but the team was eliminated by the Guelph Storm in the OHL's Western Conference final. That changed the next season.

With the National Hockey League locked out in 2004-05, the first time a professional sports league had cancelled an entire season, fans looked for other hockey to watch. And the London Knights quickly gave hockey fans something to get excited about.

Correy Perry of the London Knights lets one go at the 2005 Memorial Cup tournament.
Corey Perry of the London Knights lets one go at the 2005 Memorial Cup tournament. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Canadian Hockey League)
The London Knights broke a CHL record in 2004-05, going 31 games in a row without a loss (29 wins and two ties). The streak ended with a 5-2 loss to the Sudbury Wolves on December 17, 2004. London finished the season with a staggering 120 points, comprised of 59 wins and two ties against just seven losses. This broke the Knights' own OHL record, which had been set the previous season. The team was ranked number one in the weekly CHL rankings for the entire length of the season.

Corey Perry #94 and Danny Fritsche #49 of the London Knights celebrate a goal in their 4-0 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic in the Memorial Cup Final at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario.
Corey Perry #94 and Danny Fritsche #49 of the London Knights celebrate a goal in their 4-0 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic in the Memorial Cup Final at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Canadian Hockey League)
Corey Perry led the league in both goals (47) and points (130) in 2004-05. Dylan Hunter followed with 31 goals and 104 points. Also contributing significant scoring were Rob Schremp with 41 goals, Dave Bolland with 34 and a pair of defencemen, Bryan Rodney and Danny Syvret, both with 23 goals.

Corey Perry was named winner of the Red Tilson Trophy as the league's most outstanding player. Danny Syvret was the outstanding defenceman, earning the Max Kaminsky Trophy. The Dave Pinkney Trophy for having the lowest goals-against average went to the tandem of Adam Dennis and Gerald Coleman. Dale Hunter was recipient of the Matt Leyden Trophy as the OHL's coach of the year.

Adam Dennis #28 of the London Knights leaps into the arms of Bryan Rodney #74 as they celebrate  their 4-0 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic in the Memorial Cup final at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario.
Adam Dennis #28 of the London Knights leaps into the arms of Bryan Rodney #74 as they celebrate their 4-0 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic in the Memorial Cup final at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Canadian Hockey League)
The team had the best record in the OHL in 2004-05, winning the Hamilton Spectator Trophy. They proceeded to win the Midwest Division by sweeping the Guelph Storm and Windsor Spitfires, and then followed by dumping the Kitchener Rangers in five games to earn the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as the Western Conference champions. In the OHL final against the Ottawa 67s, the Knights won the series four games to one to win the franchise's first J. Ross Robertson Cup. In doing so, London ended the longest championship drought in the CHL's history.

Captain Danny Syvret #25 of the London Knights hoists the Memorial Cup at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario. The London Knights defeated the Rimouski Oceanic 4-0 to win the Memorial Cup.
Captain Danny Syvret #25 of the London Knights hoists the Memorial Cup at the John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario. The London Knights defeated the Rimouski Oceanic 4-0 to win the Memorial Cup. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Canadian Hockey League)
While the Knights had won the right to participate in the Memorial Cup, they had also won the right to host the tournament at the John Labatt Centre. The tournament featured the Kelowna Rockets, champions from the Western Hockey League, the Rimouski Oceanic, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions, and the Ottawa 67's. Since London was the host team as well as the OHL champions, the Ottawa 67's earned the right to represent the OHL as the runner-up.

In the first contest, London edged Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic by a 4-3 score. Two days later, they doubled the Kelowna Rockets 4-2, and followed that with a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa 67's. This earned the Knights a bye into the championship game. On May 29th, the London Knights blanked Rimouski 4-0 to win the franchise's first Memorial Cup. The Knights had never won the Memorial Cup, unlike the other three teams. It was London's first Memorial Cup victory in its 40-year history.

Adam Dennis was named recipient of the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the outstanding goaltender at the Memorial Cup. Corey Perry won the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the most valuable playoff performer and went on to be named winner of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the Memorial Cup tournament's MVP. The Memorial Cup All-Star Team included Knights Adam Dennis in goal, Danny Syvret on defence and Dan Fritsche and Corey Perry at forward.

In 2005-06, London won their third consecutive regular season championship, but they were stopped by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL final.

In 2006-07, the Knights continued their run of success, winning a fourth consecutive regular season championship. However, they lost the Western Conference championship to the Plymouth Whalers.

In 2004-05, the London Knights rewrote the record books, and during the NHL lockout, caught the attention and imagination of a hockey-starved country.

Gloves worn by London Knights London Knights forward Corey Perry during the 2005 Memorial Cup. Three Corey Perry goal pucks from the 2005 Memorial Cup tournament. Helmet worn by London Knights defenseman Danny Syvret during the 2004-05 OHL regular season, playoffs and 2005 Memorial Cup.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.