Knights Lose in Scoring Frenzy

4679The Knights faced the Perinton Blades at Paul Louis Arena last Sunday. The game was a roller-coaster of a game, where the Knights seemed to be in for a long day, with the Blades slipping two goals past Ian Campbell in the first four minutes.

“I was having a lot of trouble positioning myself in those first minutes,” Campbell said. “It’s tough to judge you’re positioning with the way their boards are, and I was just very uncomfortable in the beginning.”

The Knights responded and rebounded, getting a nice rebound goal from Kody Laird.  Someone else scored, too. 🙂 The Blades, though, came back with a lot of intense offensive pressure, and where able to skate the puck low, and get it out in front for an unstoppable shot.

“I should have had the man in front of the net,” Noah van Stralen admits. “But, actually I did have him, he just outmuscled me. I was blocking his stick, and he just fought through to get off the one timer.”

Only down one, with a last minute power-play that was carrying into the second period, the Knights focussed on what they were doing wrong on defense, and a couple things to tweak on offense, and they looked to execute the little things and eventually tie the game during the power-play.

Unfortunately a defensive mishap gave the other team a two-on-one, that they capitalized on, short-handed, with a one-timer.

“Don’t ask me about that one,” Campbell warned interviewers. “I don’t want to talk about that one.”

The knights were rattled, and just tried to fend off the more intense Perinton team. The second period was filled with penalty calls, and each team alternated power-plays, with the knights giving up three more goals, but Gavin Furhmann burying another rebound goal.

Going into the third, the knights were just saying stay with it, the other team had signs of giving up late in the second, and fifteen minutes is long enough to get four goals. Then the Blades blew past the Knights for the first few minutes. The Knights held on for dear life as the Blades skated circles around them. For about three minutes the action barely left the Knights end, and then Jeremy Trillaud was OBVIOUSLY tripped in the goal crease, and the Blades, not being called for the OBVIOUS tripping, snuck one past.

“I’m not talking about that one either,” Campbell stated. “This whole game made me mad, but that goal was the absolute worst. It was difficult to restrain from yelling in at the refs. Hardest job in the world and all, sure, fine, whatever, but call it how it is!”

The Blades let up significantly, and started playing a much more defensive strategy. The knights capitalized twice. Petermichael Karekos had a beautiful goal. Karekos walked in and skated the defenseman away out of the shooting lane, moved outside, and shot far corner, an incredible snipe.

“It was Ovechkin-esque,” says Campbell.

Within two at the end of the game, the Knights pulled their goalie, and had at least thirty great opportunity’s to score. The Blades goalie was in a zone stopping all of the late chances.

As the game wore on, the tension between the teams was building, and it was fueled by taunts directed at the Knights bench from the Blades players. It culminated in an after game scuffle, that was broken up, and sorted out. There were no penalties awarded, but Pete Karekos flipped the puck to the net as the Blades goalie was getting his water bottle, and the refs gave him a misconduct. Fortunately, he wasn’t suspended for any following games.

“Overall,” asst. Coach Phil Priolo said. “I thought we had a pretty good game. We had a lot of blown defensive assignments: two D in the corner, and the net was wide open, or not getting goal-side of the offensive player, but other than that, we really stayed with them. We just couldn’t grab the win.”

“It was those two goals in the beginning,” Campbell says. “Like I said, I was just uncomfortable, and it showed on the scoreboard.” Campbell was asked if he thought his team could be happy about the way the capitalized offensively. “There are no ‘moral victories’, if that’s what you’re trying to say, so we can be happy about whatever we want, but it’s not going to change the score on the board: 7-5. Which is what matters at the end of the day.”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Offense Explodes, Knights Just Short

IMG_3655The Canandaigua Knights midget team entered the Steelers 29th Annual Tournament with a total of five wins in nineteen games. Hot off the Big Thaw tournament (where they scored three goals in each of their three games), the Knights were feeling confident.

On Night One of the tournament, the Knights faced the Hamburg Blue Team 🙂 The Knights scored about four minutes in, and never looked back (except when back-checking). With help from the top line the Knights dominated Hamburg, with most of the play being in the offensive zone.

Ryan Mack, Neale Van Stralen, and Jeff Frelier all scored in the first. The first two goals were attributable to great skating and awesome diggles* (I’m looking at you Mackie). Jeff’s goal was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. He was in front of the net, and no one saw all six feet and four inches of him there. He capitalized, and the Knights went up 3.

  • *VERB Diggle DIG-uhl: a move that corkscrews an opponent into playing surface; usu. esp. ice.
  • Plu. Diggles
  • VERB Diggle DIG-uhl: When one uses a diggle. Mack said, “I’m going to diggle through you because I can.”

This mind you, with out the top two scorers on the team, Justin “Rolfie” Rolfe, and Hunter “Hunter” Goldstin. And after a season averaging just 2.45 goals a game.

Hamburg got a controversial goal towards the end of the first period. The refs called a good goal, but after looking at instant replay Ian Campbell offered (among other things) to buy the referees glasses.

Adding two more goals in the second, the Knights moved past the Hamburgers with four out of five points from the game. Final score: 5-2

Neale Van Stralen, who had an excellent night (1 goal, 2 assists, great back-checking and fore-checking) received the MVP for the Knights.

Confidence radiating throughout the locker room, team leader, Lucas Ruckle was settling down the younger guys. “We’ve still got six more periods, guys, six more till the championship! This isn’t over yet. But we’re four points closer!!!” [Eruption of applause–locker room style]

The team rested well that night, and everyone was ready to go for the second game. Still missing their top scorers and the MAP (Most Awesomest Player) Nick Colucci, the Knights were looking to the top line (Ruckle, Mack, Neale) for some offense. What happened next wasn’t according to the game plan.

The Knights were spanked.

They were playing the Steelers. The game opened up with a little back and forth action, but quickly it became obvious the ice was tilted, as they say. With about 80% to 85% of the play in the Knights’ defensive zone, the few chances they had were turned away.

“I don’t remember most of the goals,” says Campbell, the goalie. “But I’m sure they were good ones. Okay, except the first one.” He smiles. “Trillaud kinda took me out of that play.”

Short memory is necessary to survive as a goaltender, and Campbell’s memory had to be infinitesimally short, if he was going to have a chance. While he stopped around (most likely upwards of) 40 shots, the Steelers still scored five goals. The final score was 5-0.

Ian Campbell got the MVP of that game for the Knights. “That’s a tough one to swallow,” he says.  “But the medal is helping me realize that we just didn’t have a chance after a while. I’m glad I was able to leave it all out there.”

Then the second game of the day was played. It was between the Canandaigua Knights and the Amherst Knights. Amherst was in second place, and Canandaigua needed 3.5 points to make it to the championship.

The game was an even match for the first period, with great offensive chances for both teams, while both goalies played hard, stopping all the shots. Then, in the second, Neale opened up the scoring. WIth a coast to coast skate, Neale got to the other end, shot top shelf, and beat the goalie, and excited the whole team. Rather shortly after (I believe) Ryan Mack scored, going up two in the second.  The Knights held on to the lead going into the third up 2-0.

It was very important to score in the third. With one point per period, the points awarded so far were .5 for Amherst, to Canandaigua’s 1.5. If the third period was tied, then Amherst was in. Coach Phil Priolo let his team know it wasn’t over yet.

“Coach said we still had one more period,” says Tim “Timmy” Trost. “We could clean up some passing, and make sure we continued forechecking and back-checking, and we’d score and be able to come away with the victory.”

The Knights, both Amherst, and Canandaigua, came out firing. Amherst’s burst died out quickly, after a few shots. Canandaigua’s burst did not. After the first three minutes, the play was nearly entirely in Amherst’s defensive end. Jeremy Trillaud scored first in the third, to go up, and the Canandaigua Knights never relinquished it. One more goal was added by (someone on the team, you know who you are) to seal the victory.

Final score: 4-0

Ian Campbell had a 34 save shutout, and was again awarded the MVP of the game. Everyone on the team was extremely excited.

Coach Priolo gave everyone a 12:00 am curfew, and told everyone to be ready for the championship. For a team who had previously only won five games, any type of championship was legendary stuff.

Sunday March 16th, the Canandaigua Knights versus the Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers. Uh-oh.

With the confidence bubbling over from a much-needed victory, the Knights came into the game with a burning desire. The last game of the season, everyone wanted to give their all. With two defensive pairs and three offensive lines, the Knights were prepared to have an offensive game.

Quite unluckily, very early in the game, Knights captain, and tournament points leader, Neale Van Stralen was hit (“illegally,” in Campbell’s opinion) and he sustained a lower body injury.

Without Neale, the coaches were forced to shuffle the lines a bit, and the consequences were unfortunate.

Without Neale, the Knights were again dominated, and forced to play defense most of the game. Even with Roger Panara back for the championship game, no one was able to get the offense going for Canandaigua. The Steelers got six goals over the whole game. Dean Campese scored three of them. “And assisted the other three probably,” Campbell says. “That guy was on fire.”

“I wasn’t able to get the puck,” says Panara. “We were defending for ninety-nine percent of the time, so their D were pinching hard. It was too difficult to break out of our defensive zone, and so we didn’t get many goals when that happened.”

Not many goals is as good a way as any to describe being shutout, and for the Knights it was difficult to swallow. 6-0 is never fun.

“They’re way out of our league,” Lucas Ruckle says. “Literally. We found out that they’re actually a [bad] travel team. They were eighth in their league, but they dominated against us because we’re a house B team. I don’t really know how to react, but it was fun to play in the championship.”

Tough to swallow, losing the last game always hurts. But with a returning defensive core (Noah Van Stralen, Jeremy Trillaud, Jared Priolo, Jake Corey) following in the footsteps of Blaise Michael, a defensive standout and senior :-(, the Knights only need to worry about compensating for offensive losses like Jeff Frelier and Neale Van Stralen. Again 🙁

With Ryan Mack, Hunter Goldstin, and Roger Panara returning, most likely stronger than ever, offense should be strong. Tim Trost, in his first midget season, has developed quite nicely, as the game slowed down for him. With his great stick skills, and skating ability Tim can only tell what Tim will do next year.

The 2013-14 Canandaigua Knights were amazing. A great bunch of guys–a band of brothers. With a bright future for the midget team, it’s sad to say good-bye to the seniors. Once more, 🙁

But as the crazy cycle of players continues, one can only look forward to next year, remembering what once was, and remembering who once were.

That, and score goals 🙂

Knights Shutout On Way Out

4679On Saturday, the Canandaigua Knights Midget team was eliminated from the playoffs in round one. The talk leading up to this match was that Canandaigua would be eliminated easily, but they refused to go down without a fight.

The Knights were seeded sixth, playing the Tri-County Eagles the third best team in the Empire League. History suggested a close match, with a 43.6%* chance of a blowout.(*Rough Metaphorical Math.)

The first contest between the teams this season provided suspense until the very end, with Knights goaltender Ian Campbell fending off a fair amount of shots to hold on to a shutout. 1 – 0 the final score was telling of the amazing defense played by each team, both offenses forcing defensive perfection.

The second go around was more lopsided with the Eagles capitalizing five times on Campbell. All were shots created by passes to the backside. The Eagles’ lateral puck movement sealed the game as they breezed by 5-2.

Going into the third matchup the story was less about the teams skills as their numbers. With injuries to wingers Jack Cutri, and Wyatt Tatakis, the line-up was shaken. To add to the disorientation in the line-up, center Kody Laird, and David Frelier suspended in the last game for fighting. With only eleven skaters slated to show up, would Canandaigua be able to hang with Tri-County’s full roster? [Blaise Michael was not in attendance for undisclosed personal reasons.]

The end of the season wasn’t pretty, another reason the Eagles were favored leading up to the game. In the final regular season game, which team leader Lucas Ruckle called “embarrassing”, the Knights were beaten 8-1 by the Monroe County Eagles. After a thumping the Knights’ confidence was significantly shaken.

“[Man,] Anytime you get beat like that you’re gonna doubt yourself, no doubt,” winger Nicholas Colucci commented.

With that win by the MC Eagles, the Rochester Americans moved to second, and the Knights stayed put in sixth place. They found they were to play the Tri-County Eagles.

Before the playoff game, the Knights had dropped six of seven games, outscored on average 2 to 1. “It definitely gets to you,” says Campbell, regarding the losses. “As a goaltender, you start to over-think all of your movements. You stop trusting teammates to do their job, and everyone’s running around trying to do [everyone else’s] jobs.”

The situation wasn’t bright, with some fans even tweeting their disdain for what they saw as lack of effort. The Knights were feeling the pressure, but, before the playoff game, “I don’t think anyone was doing anything different,” said Assistant Coach Nick van Stralen, filling in for Head Coach Phil Priolo. (Unable to coach due to familial circumstances.) [His son Jared Priolo, a defenseman, also missed the game.] “The guys did a good job ignoring the hype, and stuck to their routines. Colucci was slow dressing, and Trillaud got pumped up with his music. It was business as usual.”

The moment the puck dropped the game was defined. A couple of rushes for both teams, it seemed to be a game of finesse from the Eagles, and hard work from the Knights. A couple of rushes were stymied by both sides, as the game settled into it’s rhythm. “Coach told us before the game we needed to score early,” says Ryan Mack, who led the team in shots. “He also said our forechecking needed to be more aggressive. He wanted to make sure we had short shifts, and just stayed in control of the puck,” Mack says with a smile. Controlling the puck is one of his strengths.

Captain Neale van Stralen was happy with the first period, saying, “Defensively we were solid, Jeff [Frelier] was mixing it up, and we did well offensively, with everyone getting shots. Even Noah [van Stralen]!” he says with a wink at his younger brother. “Without Rog[er Panara] we just didn’t get any real good chances, and they did a great job shutting down Hunter [Goldstin].”

The Knights’ goaltender Campbell was stellar in the first period, looking locked in, always square to the puck, stopping [some unknown amount of] shots.

Going into the second tied at zero was to the Knights advantage says Mack. “… when we huddled during intermission I just told the team ‘Their defense is giving up so many breakaways! Even Timmy [Trost] got one!”–Mack smiles–”Let’s pressure them!’ just trying to get them fired up, you know?”

It was midway through the second period when the first goal was scored by the Eagles. “I feel like I lost the puck a little,” Campbell says. “There were a couple of my D[efensemen] screening me, and actually I didn’t see the guy who came in to jam at the rebound, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my leg over in time. Kudos to them; great play.”

The score stayed the same as the game wore on, closing the second with the pace of the game shifting. “In the second, I think things shifted,” Coach van Stralen told the team. “With only three defensemen, we were wearing out.”

The game drifted into the third with Campbell fighting off shot after shot as the offense became steadily one-sided. At the six minute mark Tri-County buried a goal that took all the wind out of Canandaigua’s comeback sails.

“It was an unfortunate goal,” Campbell says. “I just misjudged the guy. I thought he was going blocker-side–I think he thought he was going blocker side, and I gave him a little room glove-side, and he took it. Perfect shot, really.”

With the game practically out of reach for Canandaigua, the game finished mostly in the Canandaigua defensive zone. Tri-County’s  #15 punched in the final goal, adding insult to injury, making it 3-0. “Number fifteen was really bothering me,” Campbell says. “He took a run at Rolfie [Justin Rolfe], and a slash at [Jake] Corey. I wanted to have a go at him after that third goal.”

With the  disappointing loss, Canandaigua can only look forward to next year. “I was talking with Ian,” Lucas Ruckle said, “and we both agreed: Next year is looking good. We’ve got guys getting better everyday on this team, and we’ll only lose three or four guys [after this season], so with the new recruits from Bantam it should be exciting.”

The team finished the regular season 5-11-1, with one playoff loss. A tough season, no doubt, but fun nonetheless. “This is the end of the regular season, so now it’s time to have a little more fun, just playing loose at the tourneys [Big Thaw, NCCYH Steelers]. Time to relax a bit, and enjoy being with the guys.”

With the regular season over, non-league games are the only thing left to focus on for the team. Should be an entertaining last stretch with excellent goaltending, and lots, lots more goals.