Tuesday, 18 July 2017 14:26 Written by Jian Lan
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Knights Victorious


2020 Knights Champs
Mack Lavoie and Jean Larry helped lead the Knights to the first championship in franchise history.

London. Again the Heikkinen Cup will be decided in the City between the London Knights and the Tampa Bay Tritons. Unlike last season, when the Tritons had a commanding 3-0 lead and swept the home team, it was the Knights that led the series and looking to close out. The teams played each other tight until the 3rd quarter when London closed the period with an 18 point lead. That was all that was need as the Knights won their first Cup in franchise history. The London Palace erupted in celebration as fans cheered, cried and stormed the court when the buzzer sounded.

The Knights players were likewise emotional. Val Crumley and Jean Larry hugged at midcourt as confetti fell from the rafters. The two were selected by London in the 2017 draft to start the rebuilding together. Four years later and they are now champions. As special as this win is for Crumley and Larry, it was more so for Trevon Booth. In his prime, Booth struck fear in opposing teams much the same way that Andy Teeters does now. But he never found much success in the playoffs until coming London last year. After losing in the Finals, he decided to come back and signed a one-year deal with the team and gave it another shot. It paid off.

"I'm 35, going on 40. There's not much I have left in the tank. After last year, I knew I had to come back and give it another go. I can't tell you how happy I am that I did!" said Booth.

"Every man here will tell you that we wanted to win this for Trevon. He was that extra motivation we needed in the playoffs. The back to back game 7s, we knew we couldn't let it end there. And we weren't going to let it happen here." said Larry.

The Knights almost didn't make it to the Finals. It took seven games to get by Toronto and league MVP Charles Flowers in the second round. Then came Arizona and the teams traded wins before the Thunderbirds took a 3-2 lead heading into game 6 at Arizona. Things looked dire. But the Knights had one of their best games of the season and forced game 7 in London, where they came away with the win.

"Before anything, I want to congratulate Coach Toma and the Tritons. They are a great team and nothing but class. After the game 1 beating that they gave use, we thought 'Uh oh. Here we go again.' But thankfully the adjustments we made worked. We knew we wanted to go big to match their size and let the chip fall where they may. That's the reason we went out and got Mack to replace Fitz. They're such an offensive juggernaut that it was impossible to stop them so we decided to go big and try and stay with them, point for point. We had confidence that it'll work since we can bring guys like Jean and Trevon off the bench to give us a boost. With that and a whole lot of luck, we were able to win." Said Coach Shay

"Coach trying to be polite, but I'm going to tell you the truth. We were sick and tired of people saying we had no shot to win it. That we should basically just pack up and enjoy the summer. Some online poll had us 10-1 to beat the Tritons. We found that disrespectful. Come on, man. We didn't win 60 games just for show. Plus we beat them twice already during the regular season. We were all a little pissed about that." said Crumley

For the Knights, this was redemption and a culmination to the process that started 5 long years ago when GM Lian took over for GM Bogart. It was a long and slow process but the team finally achieved its goal. After the game, Lian made a brief appearance with the team but quickly left the festivity citing his desire to get some more work done for the offseason.

For the fans, it was a moment that surpassed past glories when London won the division in 2014 and went to the playoffs from 2011 to 2015. Many did not think this night was possible when the team sunk to 25 and 30 wins. Even last year's Finals run was viewed by some fans as an aberration: a lucky late run that got the team into the playoffs, a weak conference, an un-deserving young group, etc, etc. But they are all believers now. Hail to the Knights!

 

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