ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - Ryan Rupert had a hat trick on Saturday as the London Knights earned a 5-3 victory over the Niagara IceDogs to tie their best-of-seven Ontario Hockey League championship series at a game apiece.
Rupert enjoyed playing on the smallest venue in the OHL — The Gatorade Garden City Complex and Jack Gatecliff Arena.
"It's that small-barn mentality and playoff hockey, I guess," said Rupert who now has eight post-season goals. Our line likes to the cycle (the puck) and I like to go the net and it worked tonight."
Rupert scored two second-period goals capitalizing on IceDogs turnovers, then sealed the deal into an empty net with eight seconds left in regulation.
Niagara head coach and general manager Marty Williamson didn't mince his words after the contest.
"I didn't think we were good enough for two periods. I was happy with our third period, but give them (London) credit we turned the puck over and they capitalized on our mistakes. We weren't good enough. They played with more desire tonight and deserved the win," said Williamson.
Agozzino scored two first-period power-play goals to give Niagara a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play, and would complete his hat trick late in the second period to make the score 4-3, but that's all the IceDogs could muster.
"It's a loss so (the hat trick) doesn't mean anything," said Agozzino, who now leads Niagara with 11 playoff goals. "We weren't moving our feet enough in the first two periods, and we made too many mistakes."
Knights head coach and general manager Mark Hunter was impressed with his teams overall effort.
"I thought we showed a lot of desire and effort and did a great job blocking shots in the third period, and Houser made some big saves," said Hunter.
London went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Niagara was 2-for-4.
Game 3 is at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont., on Monday.
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