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Knights deal blow to Falcons' playoff hopes


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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MATT MITCHELL works to help goalie Shawn Goggin keep the puck away from the net during action against Bow on Feb. 22. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 27, 2012
WOLFEBORO — While they are officially out of the playoff race, the Kingswood hockey Knights got to wreak a little havoc on the Division II tournament fight in the final week of the regular season.

Bow came to town Feb. 22 in a battle for the final playoff position and in need of any points they could get heading to their final game.

Instead, the Falcons headed home with no points on the board, as the Knights scored three times in the second period and skated off with a 5-2 win.

"That's the way they can play," coach Fred Antonucci said. "They didn't make a bunch of mistakes, just four or five little ones.

"They all skated well," the veteran mentor added.

While it was the Knights who took the win, it was the visitors who got on the board first, as the Falcons got one by keeper Shawn Goggin with just more than six minutes gone in the opening period, taking a 1-0 lead.

The Knights did fight back and got the equalizer with 1:49 to go in the period, as CJ Sirrell put home a feed from Mike Bernier to tie the game at one.

The Knights took a penalty late in the first period and spent the first 1:18 of the second period fighting off a Bow power play. Alex Boucher had a strong penalty kill and Goggin turned in a couple of strong saves to help the Knights emerge from the penalty kill still tied at one.

The hosts then got on the board themselves with just three ticks more than three minutes gone in the period. Boucher raced the puck down the ice, with Riley skating alongside. Boucher made a great feed to his right and Riley found the net wide open as the Bow goalie didn't slide over in time and the Knight junior buried the puck for a 2-1 lead.

Bow fought back, looking for any chance to get the game even again, but Goggin was on his game, as he turned away a couple of solid bids, including two through traffic.

The solid goaltending at the defensive end led to a good scoring bid at the other end and the Knights cashed in. Riley won the faceoff and James Ellis put the puck in the net for his first career varsity goal and a 3-1 Kingswood lead with 6:55 to go in the second period.

The Knights took a penalty with 4:07 to play but Goggin did a great job, turning away numerous Falcon bids. Josh Grasso had a shorthanded bid denied and Sirrell also had a strong penalty kill to keep the Knights in front by two.

Kingswood upped that lead to 4-1 with just 20 seconds left in the period, as Chris Pollini took the puck all the way up the ice and buried it behind the Bow keeper for a 4-1 lead. Sirrell got the assist and the Knights took the three-goal lead to the final 15 minutes.

Bow came out strong again in the third, making a number of great bids for the net, but Goggin was solid, keeping the puck outside the cage with some good saves.

The Knights got a power play chance with 9:05 to go in the game and Grasso, Sirrell, Boucher and Riley all had chances, but the puck never found the net and the score remained at 4-1.

The Falcons finally managed to get another shot by Goggin, as they snapped home a shot with 6:12 to go in the game to cut the lead to 4-2.

Kingswood wasted no time in answering, as Sirrell took a faceoff win from Bernier just 42 seconds later and fired it home from the side of the net for a 5-2 lead.

The Knights had to kill off another penalty with five minutes to play and Riley had a good shorthanded bid broken up while Goggin more than held up his end of the bargain, keeping the score at 5-2.

The Knights called timeout with 2:21 to play and Antonucci sent Sirrell, Riley, Boucher, Pollini and Matt Mitchell out on the ice and the Knights' five most experienced players shut down the attack for the final 2:21 to seal the win.

Antonucci praised the group for doing the job the final two minutes, throwing the puck in the zone and not wasting their energy rushing up and down the ice.

"We got better tonight," the veteran coach said. "When we're getting production from everybody, it makes a big difference."

Antonucci noted that Goggin played a great game and for once, the cycle the Knights had been in was broken. They had been in a seemingly endless rut where they got good goaltending and no offense or great offense and a tough night between the pipes. On Wednesday, both were present. Goggin had 29 saves on the night.

Kingswood finished the season with a 4-1 win over Keene on Saturday, Feb. 25. The Knights wrapped the year at 4-13-1.

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

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