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Third period goals lift Eagles over Knights

Joshua Spaulding image
by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

KENNETT'S Caleb McPherson and Kingswood's Cole Emerson battle for position on Saturday at Ham Arena. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2017
CONWAY — Though the Kennett hockey team came away with a 2-0 win over Kingswood on Saturday at Ham Arena, it's safe to say that both head coaches got what they wanted out of the game, in one way or another.

The Eagles were looking to get back on track after a tough loss in Berlin earlier in the week while the Knights were trying to get things straightened out after a string of tough losses.

"It's what you want to see, a good effort from both teams," said Kennett coach Mike Lane. "It's good to have this rivalry again.

"I think we were pretty frustrated after the loss and we didn't get to practice with the weather," Lane said. "I didn't say too much before the game, they know how big a game this was."

"That's the best they've played in five or six games," said Kingswood coach Mike Potenza of his squad. "We did some off-ice stuff yesterday to try to dial the attitudes in and it seemed to have an impact.

"This loss, to me, was not frustrating because there was effort on our part," Potenza said. "I thought that hasn't been there for the last few games."

Both teams struggled to get on the board for the first two periods before the Eagles scored twice in the final period to get the 2-0 win.

Kingswood keeper Joey Vetanze and Kennett keeper Johnny Biggio both did their job, keeping the pucks out of the net for the first two periods.

Early on, Caleb McPherson had a good look for the Eagles but Sam Barton was there with the defense for the Knights. Kolbe Maganzini had a long shot on net stopped by Biggio, while teammate Andy Contrada also had a bid turned away.

Trevor Olivier had a shot tipped wide for the Eagles, while Cole Emerson tipped a shot wide at the other end. Reilly Murphy and McPherson had bids turned away for Kennett.

The Eagles got the first power play of the game with 8:30 to go in the first, but took a penalty just 21 seconds later to even things out. Colby Couture and Connor Doucet had shots for the Eagles but both penalties were killed off. Maganzini had a good clear, while Doucet and Mackenzie Murphy continued the Eagle attack.

Kingswood got a power play chance with 3:37 to go in the period and Jake Dearborn had a bid that was denied by Biggio. McPherson and Anthony Graziano had a good shorthanded bid in the zone, as did Doucet, but Vetanze held tight. The Eagles took a penalty with 2:14 to go for a 37-second five-on-three chance. Maganzini and Sam Danais had chances for the Knights and Erik Skelley had a shot blocked by Graziano as one penalty was killed off. Drew Luby had a shot stopped and Burke Ruel was denied by Biggio as the penalties were killed and the period came to an end with no score.

The Eagles got an early power play in the second period and Vetanze kept his team tied with a couple of good stops on shots from Murphy. Doucet had a great feed to McPherson that was denied as well. Sean Harrington had a good clear for the Knights as well and they killed the penalty off.

Trevor LaRusso and Jeffrey Palmer continued the attack with shots that were stopped. Mike Seavey made a pass to Couture that the junior batted out of the air but just wide of the net through the crease.

Kingswood got a five-minute power play with 4:05 gone in the period. Mackenzie Murphy, Reilly Murphy and Couture all had strong penalty kills, while Skelley had a shot deflected in one of Kingswood's best chances, but the Eagles were able to kill off the penalty.

The Eagles got a power play chance with 5:15 to go and Colby Clegg and Skelley had good clears for the Knights. Graziano had a great feed to Seavey in close that was denied by Vetanze. Chet Johnston and Doucet also had bids for the Eagles before the penalty was killed off.

Danais for the Knights and Tanner Brown for the Eagles had chances but they could not connect. Kingswood got a power play with 2:16 to go but then took a penalty with 1:03 to go for a 47-second four-on-four situation. The first penalty was killed off and the period ended with no score and the Eagles on a power play for the first 57 seconds of the third period.

Doucet had a quick shot early on and Barton had a good clear to kill off the penalty. Doucet, Mackenzie Murphy and McPherson had chances for the Eagles, while Cody Bryan made a nice defensive stop on Danais.

With 11:06 to go in the game, the Eagles were able to break through, as Doucet put the puck in on assists from McPherson and Mackenzie Murphy for the 1-0 lead.

A minute and 20 seconds later, the Eagles gave their crowd more to cheer about, as Graziano put the puck in the net from Doucet and McPherson on a delayed penalty, with the extra attacker on for Kennett.

Clegg for the Knights and Couture for the Eagles had continued chances before Kingswood got the power play with 8:11 to go in the game. Ruel sent a nice pass through the crease, Danais found Harrington with a good look that just missed. The Knights took a penalty with 6:31 to go for a four-on-four situation for 20 seconds. Danais had a bid stopped before the first penalty was killed and then just missed a connection from Clegg on a shorthanded bid a few moments later. Doucet, Couture and MacKenzie Murphy had chances for Kennett before the penalty was killed.

Reilly Murphy blocked a shot by Ruel, while Luby and Ruel had shots denied by Biggio. Barton came through with good defense on McPherson, while Couture had a bid denied. The Eagles got a power play in the final 2:30 and Doucet, Mackenzie Murphy and Couture had chances that Vetanze denied and the game finished out at 2-0 for the Eagles.

"They're goalie, he was on fire today," Lane said of Vetanze, who had 31 saves. "We knew we were going to get their best effort.

"They're a well-coached team, Mike does a good job with them," the Eagle coach continued. "But it felt like (going into the third), we were wearing them down.

"I felt good about where we were," Lane continued. "But with a kid like Contrada on the other side, just one rush and boom, you could be down 1-0 pretty quick."

The Eagle coach said his team was able to push through and get the win, which was the objective from the beginning.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," Lane said. "We were prepared to play 45 minutes and we did tonight.

"It's good to be back on track," he added. "The kids deserve the credit, they went out and got it done."

"When the effort is there, the losses are a lot more tolerable," Potenza said, noting that Vetanze continues to be strong in net, along with fellow keeper Robbie Fuller.

"Goaltending has not been our problem this year," Potenza said. "And those two goals he gave up were not soft goals."

The Knight coach also praised his rivals from the north.

"They may be Division III, but they're at the top of Division III, which means they can compete with anyone in Division II," Potenza said. "They're a good team.

"We took a couple steps forward tonight, so I'm OK with that," Potenza added.

The Eagles will be at Rochester Ice Arena on Saturday, Feb. 18, to take on Somersworth-Coe-Brown at 5:30 p.m. and will be at Pembroke-Campbell on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 5:30 p.m.

The Knights will be hosting Lebanon on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. and will be hosting Winnacunnet on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com.

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