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Knights hang tough with Div. I Exeter

KINGSWOOD’S LUCAS BONENFANT closes in on the puck just as Exeter goalie Jake Anderson covers it up during action Dec. 27 in Exeter. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 03, 2011
EXETER — While coach Fred Antonucci was under the weather and unable to join his team for its tournament game against host Exeter on Monday, Dec. 27, there were certainly things the veteran coach would've been happy to see.

First and foremost, the Knights took just one penalty on the night. To date this season, the team had been taking excessive penalties, something Antonucci said puts them in a tough spot day after day.

The Knights were also playing with only three defenseman, and of those three, two were fairly sick. However, the trio of Chris Pollini, Nick Moore and captain Kienan Miller logged significant ice time against the Division I Blue Hawks.

And, the Knights came back. After trailing 1-0 in the opening minute and then falling behind by two goals midway through the first period, the Knights fought their way back and stayed in the game.

In the end, the Exeter side came away with the 3-2 win, but assistant coach Steve Hale wasn't disappointed in what he saw from the team.

"They kept up with Exeter in shots, for two periods we were ahead of them," Hale said. "It was a great effort."

The host Blue Hawks wasted no time in getting on the board, as they slipped the puck past Kingswood goalie Shawn Goggin in the first minute, lighting the lamp with just 43 seconds gone to take a 1-0 lead.

Kingswood didn't back down, however, as Sam Hart, Alex Lapar and Pollini all had bids on net turned away or sail high. Good defense from Miller kept the hosts from closing in on Goggin and when Exeter did get through, Goggin turned away their best chance.

Brad Riley just missed connections with Mike Bernier on a scoring bid and Lucas Bonenfant made a nice steal, but the Knights were unable to get on the board.

The Blue Hawks came back, sending one bid through the crease, while Moore made a nice poke check to eliminate another scoring bid.

Hart, Lapar. Alex Boucher and CJ Sirrell all put great bids on the Exeter net, but they were all turned away.

However, the pressure did lead to a Kingswood power play with 6:40 to play in the first period.

Boucher sent a pass through the crease, but the Exeter goalie made a save on the scoring bid by Lapar. The hosts then turned the puck around and broke in shorthanded and put one past Goggin for a 2-0 lead with just two ticks under six minutes remaining in the first period.

Exeter had another shorthanded bid denied and Kingswood finally got moving on the power play, with Pollini and Miller making good bids.

With 5:01 to play, the Knights got on the board, as Miller slipped a shot past the Exeter keeper for a power play goal, cutting the lead to 2-1. Riley picked up the assist on the play.

Exeter came right back with some immediate pressure, but Goggin stood strong in the net and kept the puck out. Matt Fitzpatrick and Pollini put more bids on net for the Knights but didn't score and the Kingswood defense held strong during a final push by Exeter, sending the game to the first intermission with Exeter up 2-1.

The two teams exchanged trips into the offensive zone to open the second period, but neither team had a good shot on net, though Sirrell, Fitzpatrick and Hart did get the puck in close on the Exeter keeper. Riley also had a shot sail wide of the net.

Exeter finally got a shot on Goggin, but he turned it away and after a Fitzpatrick bid, made a big diving save to his right.

Bonenfant chased down a loose puck in the Exeter zone, but the Blue Hawk keeper beat him to it and the hosts turned the puck around and moved back up the ice, where Goggin turned in another save.

With 6:05 to play in the second, the Knights took their only penalty of the night and Exeter had a couple of chances, but good solid penalty killing by Boucher and Hart helped to kill the penalty and the pair even had a shorthanded chance at the other end of the ice.

Miller, Riley and Bonenfant all had chances just miss the net as the Knights looked for the tying goal in the final minutes of the period, but it wasn't too be, as the teams headed to the break with the score still 2-1 in favor of Exeter.

Exeter jumped into the offensive zone early in the third, but Goggin and Moore teamed up to keep them off the board. Miller also made a nice takeaway at the blue line.

The Blue Hawks did control the puck for a bit in their offensive zone, but the Knights held strong and finally got some scoring bids of their own, as Riley and Pollini put shots on net, only to have them turned away.

Exeter rang one off the crossbar and Goggin turned in a number of nice saves as the hosts continued looking for a little insurance. Boucher had a bid turned away and Moore turned in solid defense as the Knights continued to fight despite the low body count on the bench.

Finally, with 5:13 to play, Exeter squeaked the puck past Goggin to take a 3-1 lead.

Kingswood again didn't back down and it paid off with a power play chance with 3:49 to play in the game. The Knights needed just 26 seconds to cut the lead to one, as Hart tapped the puck home on assists from Fitzpatrick and Moore with 3:23 to play.

Lapar, Hart, Sirrell and Moore all had chances in the final minutes and Goggin made a couple of great saves to keep it a one-goal game, but the Knights came up just short in their bid for the tie.

"There are things that happen in every game that you hope you improve on," Hale said. "There were some of those tonight, but I was very happy with the effort."

He also praised the efforts of his three defenseman, who logged serious ice time despite being under the weather.

The Knights, who stand at 2-2 on the regular season, will be in action on Saturday, Jan. 8, when they travel to Oyster River for a noon game with the Bobcats. On Wednesday, Jan. 12, the boys hit the road to Dover for a 6:30 p.m. game with the Green Wave.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord & Osman
Alton School
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