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First-place Knights go sight-seeing while awaiting Memorial Cup final

NHL.com @NHL

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - With four days to kill before playing in the Mastercard Memorial Cup final, London Knights co-owner Dale Hunter figured there was time for a little sight-seeing in Quebec City.

And wasn't it just like pesky forward Ryan Rupert to tease the boss by buying a Quebec Nordiques T-shirt with Hunter and his No. 32 on the back.

He and his twin brother Matt Rupert live with Hunter and his girlfriend Cindy MacKinlay during the season, so Ryan said on Friday that ''I thought it would be a funny joke to buy his sweater.

''Cindy liked it when she saw it. She got a laugh out of it.''

The 17-year-old Ruperts, both gritty pests on the ice like any of the Hunter brothers, and their 19-year-old centre Austin Watson also bought Hanson brothers shirts to match the characters from the film "Slapshot" that they are often compared to.

The 90-minute bus trip was all part of getting their minds off the game for a day before getting back to the serious business of preparing for the final against either the host Shawinigan Cataractes or the Saint John Sea Dogs, who were to meet in the semifinal on Friday night.

The Knights beat the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday night to finish the round robin portion of the four-team tournament at 2-1, but took first place over Saint John because they beat the Sea Dogs in their head-to-head meeting.

They weren't about to spend the entire break practising, especially since they wouldn't know who their opponent will be until the semifinal ends.

''The boys had some fun,'' said coach Mark Hunter. ''Now we're back to work to practice and get ready for Sunday.

''The rest is important. These boys have played a lot of hockey games. It was a big win for us to go right into Sunday.''

Dale Hunter played his first seven NHL seasons with the Nordiques, so he knew where to go. The team walked around Old Quebec, did some shopping and had some laughs.

''It was just to get our minds off hockey and get away from the rink,'' said forward Seth Griffith. ''A lot of guys have never been there before.''

Other than Watson, a member of the 2009 champion Windsor Spitfires, they've never been to the Memorial Cup before, either.

The Knights weren't expected to win the Ontario Hockey League title this season because, other than a handful of veterans like Watson, Jarred Tinordi and Scott Harrington, they are younger-than-average team that was supposed to be a contender next season.

''We didn't know where our young guys were going to go,'' said Mark Hunter. ''Like the Ruperts, we didn't know they were going to be as good as they are.

''And Max Domi. Chris Tierney, Olli Maatta. We had a lot of players who came to the forefront.''

Now they have a chance to win it all, so why not have some fun?

Like Ryan Rupert, who laughed when asked if he would get Dale Hunter to sign his shirt.

''Maybe after the tournament I'll get it signed and sell it and make some money,'' he said.

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