LONDON, Ont. - Chris Tierney and Olli Maatta connected on Monday to give the London Knights a key playoff win.
Tierney tipped Maatta's point shot past Niagara IceDogs goalie Mark Visentin for a 3-2 Knights victory and a 2-1 lead in the Ontario Hockey League final.
Tierney, who scored his fourth of the post-season, won a faceoff to the right of Visentin and Maatta teed it up for an assist on the winner. Tierney would admit to having just one hand on his stick for the re-direction.
"This is huge for us to get home ice advantage back," said Tierney. "We did a lot of the little things and it added up to a win."
Max Domi and Austin Watson also scored for London, while Michael Houser made 25 saves for the win.
Freddie Hamilton and Brett Ritchie scored for Niagara, while Mark Visentin stopped 32 shots.
Game 4 of the series is Wednesday at in St. Catharines, Ont., before returning to London, Ont., for Game 5 on Friday night.
"We will have to be ready for Wednesday because I'm sure Niagara will come out ablazing," said Knights head coach and GM Mark Hunter.
After a scoreless first, the IceDogs earned a pair of one-goal leads in the second as Ritchie tallied on a Niagara power play before Domi tied it 1-1 with his fourth of the post-season.
The IceDogs took a 2-1 lead when normally steady London defenceman Jarred Tinordi misplayed the puck just inside his own blue-line, allowing Hamilton to gain control of the puck and fire a low shot past Houser.
Watson's power-play goal at 18:28 of the second period made it 2-2. With an assist on Watson's goal, Seth Griffith now has a seven-game point streak.
London continues to receive a lot of offence from its '94 and '95 players, notably Domi, Tierney, Maatta, and twins Ryan and Matt Rupert.
Ryan Rupert had paced the Game 2 victory with a hat trick.
"Our young guys are doing well under the pressure of playoff hockey," said Hunter. "They're all good players and they're gaining confidence."
Hunter is especially pleased with Maatta, who was the No 1 Canadian Hockey League pick last summer, arriving in London from Finland.
"It took him some time to get accustomed to hockey here, but since the second half of the season he has been dominating," Hunter said.
Maatta leads all playoff rookies in scoring with 21 points, including six goals. The second highest freshman total in the OHL is eight points (four goals) by Domi.
London was 1-for-5 on the power play, while the IceDogs were 1-for-3.