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Late rally lifts Knights past Keene


Matt Mitchell scores in final 10 seconds to give Kingswood hockey the win


by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

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TOM DOUGHERTY makes a save in action against Keene on Jan. 4. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 06, 2014
WOLFEBORO — Over the past couple of seasons, the Kingswood hockey team has shown a flair for the dramatic.

That was certainly the case on Saturday, Jan. 4, when the Knights returned to regular season action at the Pop Whalen Arena against Keene.

Trailing 4-3 with less than three and a half minutes to go, the Knights came charging back and picked up a 5-4 win over the Blackbirds.

Andy Contrada scored with 3:19 to go to tie the game at four and captain Matt Mitchell drilled home a shot from the point with nine seconds to go in the game to give the Knights the 5-4 victory.

"With this crew, we kind of expect that every game is going to be a war," Knight coach Andrew Trimble said. "We just hope it falls in our favor.

"We expect to be competitive in every game and play to the final buzzer," Trimble continued. "There's no other group that coach Potenza, coach Cayon and I would rather go to battle with."

The Knights and Blackbirds played to a scoreless tie through the first 15 minutes, but both teams had plenty of chances.

Austin Chasse had a couple of early chances for Kingswood, while keeper Tom Dougherty made a number of nice saves in the Kingswood net.

The Knights took the game's first penalty with 12:55 to go in the first period, but the Knights weren't shorthanded long, as Keene took a penalty with 12:08 to go to make it a four-on-four for 1:13 and a brief Kingswood power play, but both penalties were killed off. Owen Richard turned in strong defense and Dougherty stepped up with a nice save.

The Knights took another penalty with 7:46 to go and Dougherty made a couple more big saves before the Blackbirds took another penalty.

The Knights didn't get many chances on their short power play chance, but after the penalty was killed off, Luke French had a couple of nice chances in close and Sam Bonenfant had his shot blocked in front on a rebound. Chasse and Mitchell also had chances and Dougherty made a couple of saves on a late Blackbird power play, sending the game to the first intermission with no score.

Josh Grasso had a good shorthanded bid early in the second period, but the visitors got the game's first goal after a turnover at the side of the net got them a great chance with 1:06 gone in the period.

Kingswood answered right back just 33 seconds later, as Mitchell put a shot on net and Chasse poked home the rebound for the tying goal.

Dougherty then came up with a number of great saves before the Blackbirds were able to break through again, this time with 11:37 to go in the period off of a faceoff.

Kingswood had to kill off another penalty midway through the period. Chasse was strong on the kill and Peter Marshall had a shorthanded bid. Dougherty also turned away a number of good chances to keep his team in the game.

Kingswood took another penalty late in the period. Both Mitchell and Contrada had shorthanded scoring bids, but Keene took a penalty to pull things even at four a side.

With 1:20 to go in the period, Mitchell fired home a shot on an assist from Richard to tie the game at two.

However, Keene scored with just 51 seconds to go to up by a 3-2 lead. Kingswood got a late power play, which extended into the third period. Shortly after the power play ended, the Knights were able to pull even, as Marshall put the puck home on an assist from Chasse with just two minutes gone in the period.

The Blackbirds battled back, however, getting another power play chance and scoring with 9:11 to go in the game following a nice pass through the crease.

Contrada, Mitchell and Grasso had chances and Dougherty turned away a number of scoring bids at the other end of the net.

The chances eventually led to Contrada's tying goal on an assist from Richard and after great pressure from Marshall, Owen Gonya, Grasso and Contrada all getting shots in the final minute before Mitchell fired home his shot to give the Knights the win.

Trimble noted that the holiday tournament the previous week helped push his team in the right direction.

"The Christmas tournament got us prepared for that varsity level," Trimble said. "Getting that experience prepared them for a game like this."

Trimble also praised the work of Mitchell, who has been working as a forward this year and last year, but has been asked to move back to defense on a number of occasions, including against the Blackbirds.

"We can use him in anything, he understands his responsibilities," Trimble said. "The kids just feed off him. When he makes a key play, he doesn't make a big deal of it, he makes it look easy."

The Knights will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Pop Whalen Arena against Pembroke and then host Alvirne on Wednesday, Jan. 15, with both games set for 7 p.m. starts.

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

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