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Future NHL stars do battle in Brampton, Ontario

By Noam Sugarman     Feb 19, 2009 in Sports
Slated to go number one in this year's NHL entry draft, John Tavares was invisible in OHL action Thursday night. The Brampton Battalion handily defeated the London Knights by a score of 5-1.
Whoever ends up drafting John Tavares better hope he doesn't have too many nights like these when he reaches the NHL. Tavares and his London Knights were hardly noticeable in a game that featured several top rated prospects. The Knights, who have been disappointing since acquiring Tavares in a blockbuster trade with the Oshawa Generals, were no match for the high flying Battalion.
Cody Hodgson, a highly touted Vancouver Canucks prospect, led the way for the home squad, scoring the eventual game winner and adding an assist. Evgeni Grachev, a New York Rangers prospect, also chipped in with a goal and an assist and was a presence the entire game.
Both teams were shooting blanks on the power play. London was particularly atrocious with the extra man; with the score 3-1, they allowed two shorthanded goals on a single power play early in the third period, essentially ending any prospect of a comeback. Matt Duchene got an assist on the last of those shorthanded goals. Duchene was solid throughout the game.
The Knights have struggled somewhat since acquiring John Tavares. Since making his debut with London back on January 11, the team is 9-6-2. While this is a decent record, it is well below expectation and far off the pace set by the Knights before Tavares arrived on the scene. Tavares is still putting up numbers - he is averaging more than a goal a game since the trade - but the team will have to be better if they hope to go deep into the playoffs. The Battalion, on the other hand, are looking like they could go deep in the postseason and even challenge for the OHL championship.
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