SAM BONENFANT tracks a Spaulding Red Raider during action Dec. 19 at the Pop Whalen Arena. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 20, 2012WOLFEBORO — New Kingswood hockey coach Andrew Trimble is a believer in penalty killing being instrumental in winning championships.
On Wednesday, Dec. 19, the Knights did their job while shorthanded, but the power play proved to be their undoing in the end.
Spaulding's Brendan Colson scored a shorthanded goal with 2:05 to go in overtime to propel the Red Raiders past the Knights before a packed house at the Pop Whalen Arena.
"We didn't execute on the power play," Trimble said. "I tell the kids, you can have a great power play in practice, but power plays don't win championships, penalty kills do."
In their shorthanded situations, the Knights were strong, killing of a key five-on-three advantage and also a few other man-advantage situations.
"Our penalty kill was awesome tonight," Trimble said.
Early in the game, keeper Shawn Goggin was the star of the show for Kingswood, as the senior stopped a hail of pucks right out of the gate. Matt Fuller chipped in with some solid defense and Brad Riley and Mike Bernier got the offense moving at the other end with chances. Riley came close to putting in a rebound of a Fuller shot, but the Spaulding defense turned it away.
The visitors got the game's first goal, scoring with 8:37 to go in the first period to take a 1-0 lead.
The Knights didn't back down, with Riley and Bernier in the zone and Pollini firing a shot off the post. Fuller also had a slap shot saved and at the other end, Goggin continued to earn his keep with some more big saves.
CJ Sirrell just missed poking home a rebound of a Pollini shot and Goggin held on through a scramble in front of his net at the other end, finishing the first with a score of 1-0 in favor of the Red Raiders.
Kingswood came out firing on all cylinders in the second period, as Pollini passed the puck off the boards to himself and broke in on goal to tie the game just 23 seconds in the second period.
Goggin made a kick save and a glove save as the Red Raiders came back down the ice, but the Knights were able to work the game's first power play with just under 12 minutes to play in the period.
Riley and Sirrell had bids, but the Red Raiders did a good job of killing the penalty early. However, with 16 seconds to go on the power play, Sirrell tipped home a shot on assists from Riley and Pollini to give the Knights their first lead of the game, 2-1.
Austin Chasse and Josh Grasso had scoring bids for the Knights who took their first penalty with 5:07 to go in the period.
Moments later, Spaulding took a penalty to make it four-on-four for 1:33, but Kingswood took another penalty 20 seconds later and had to kill off a five-on-three situation for 1:12.
Goggin came up with a couple of big saves and the Knights managed to work their way through the penalties with nothing getting in the net.
Pollini had a couple of shots stopped and Owen Richard helped Goggin out with some solid defense as the period came to a close with Kingswood up 2-1.
Spaulding wasted little time getting the lead back, as the visitors scored just 1:35 into the third period and added another goal less than two minutes later for a 3-2 lead.
Kingswood battled back and Riley stuffed home a rebound of a Pollini shot with just under nine minutes to go, tying the game at three.
Pollini, Riley, Matt Mitchell and Sirrell all had chances for the Knights as the period rolled along, but none found the twine.
The Knights had a power play chance with 4:30 to go, but it was short-lived, as the Knights took their own penalty 19 seconds later. Sirrell, Riley and Pollini had chances in the four-on-four and Grasso had a chance in the shorthanded situation at the end of the penalties, but nobody was able to score and regulation came to a close with the score tied at three.
In the extra frame, Goggin came up with some big saves and Pollini had a couple of shots stopped and also just missed Sirrell on a scoring bid.
With 2:54 to go in the extra session, Owen Gonya was taken down as he headed toward the net and the Knights got a power play chance. Grasso had a shot stopped, but at the other end of the ice just moments later, the Red Raiders slipped one past Goggin and celebrated the 4-3 win.
"We're definitely improving," Trimble said, noting the 8-2 opening night score, the 3-1 Merrimack score and now the 4-3 final. "They probably came in here tonight thinking they were going to blow the roof off us. That won't happen."
The Knight coach noted that in all three games thus far on the season, his team has struggled out of the gate.
"We're susceptible to slow starts and we're making it a priority to fix that," Trimble said. "We want to play with leads and we haven't really done that all year.
"If we don't give up a goal in the first few minutes in each game, things might be different," the first-year Knight coach said.
Goggin finished with 51 saves on the night for the Knights.
The Knights will be in action over the holiday break in the Exeter Tournament. Tonight, Dec. 27, they take on Exeter at 8 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 26, they play Winnacunnet at 6 p.m.
The team returns to regular season action on Wednesday, Jan. 2, at home against Bedford at 7 p.m.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126