Sunday’s game left a “strange taste” in the mouth of Canandaigua Knights goalie Ian Campbell. When asked to elaborate he said, “… Yeah, you know, it’s a weird feeling. We lost, horribly, but it’s not like no one else has lost to this team. I thought it was a good game as far as what we were capable of doing. But obviously we couldn’t beat them today, and honestly, I don’t think our team is built to beat them at all. I guess I feel like we just showed some promise finally. Through these losses, no one’s been able to see our upside, but today, I felt like today we showed we can win some hockey games.”
The game was against the Monroe County Youth Hockey South-1 Eagles. (Yes, more Eagles. In total there are five teams whose mascot is the eagle.) The MCYH S-1 Eagles are one of the teams that has been blessed with the gift of a large pool of players to draft from. Apparently, when you aren’t beggars, you get to be choosers! With a roster full of players better, both physically and mentally, than 90% of the Knights’ team, they were a strong favorite coming into the game.
Their strength had already been demonstrated, as they were 10-1-0 coming into the game, beating every team in the league, and trading games with the Eagles of Brockport (who, by the way, are, according to their website, 7-1-1, as of 1-13-15. Too many commas, man!)
The game started out as expected with the MCYH S-1 Eagles jumping up 2-0 pretty much instantly.
“The first goal was a group effort on both sides,” said Coach Nick Van Stralen. “It was a combination of beautiful passing from them, and a lack of focus from us. They put Ian in an undesirable position, and capitalized.”
The second goal was just the consummation of the Eagles working harder than the Knights.
“This team was different than almost everyone else, even Brockport,” Noah Kurz, who played an excellent game positioned at defenseman. “I found it tough to match their intensity, you know, they just battled everywhere, in the corners, and in the open ice. It didn’t matter they battled wherever.”
The Eagles followed up with two unmemorable goals to finish out the period with a lead of 4-0. It was a tough, demoralizing period, but, the Knights knew this was a possibility and were rather even-keel in the intermission huddle.
“Guys, you can’t stop, you’ve got to keep skating,” Van Stralen reminded. “Just like I said before, these guys will never stop, so you gotta keep going with them!”
Campbell followed that by asking each player for their very best. Whatever they had, that’s what the Knights needed.
The second period started out with the Knights being out shot about 20 to 3, in seven minutes. The Eagles were heavily pressuring the Knights, and the Knights defense was stepping up, despite the amount of shots.
“I was having a hard time with rebound control. I was able to get some [rebounds] in to the corners, but most of the time, I was leaving them hanging out in front of the net, and I was able to make follow-up… [saves], and the defense got a bunch out of the crease for me. I was saying ‘Thank you!’ a lot today.”
Campbell was hurt in a scrum, near the seven minute mark in the second period. It was an upper body injury that hadn’t been announced earlier in the week, that he tweaked.
“I don’t really want to talk about it too much, ’cause, you know, it’s hockey, and we don’t actually talk about injuries, but I hurt it in the early fall, and it’s been getting better, but I tweaked it earlier in the week, and today, I hurt it again pretty badly.”
Despite that, the Knights were forced, by lack of another goalie, to play Campbell. “I was fine, as far as continuing to play, I can feel how much I’m going to be hurting later today, and into tomorrow. I’ll be ready to go for this weekend though.”
Note: Campbell missed Monday’s practice.
Campbell was indeed fine during the rest of the game, though he allowed four more goals, his play was exceptional.
“If you guys want to talk about me, that’s fine, but my defense put me in pretty good position. I’ll admit I had a few good saves,” he smiles. “But I know why I was able to make a majority of those saves: my defense.”
While Campbell was right, the defense held better than usual, they also hung him out to dry a few times.
Immediately following his injury, the Eagles got a 2-on-0 break away, and capitalized rather easily. They followed it up with another 2-on-0, and went up 6-0
The Knights modified top line* was able to put in a goal to bring it closer, and someone else (who wasn’t able to be seen) scored to make it 6-2, a comeback had begun.
*The top line was Karekos, Furhmann, Reston, because Jeremy Trillaud (illness) and Alec Melroy (parents weren’t home) were unable to attend the game, and therefore Kody Laird, and Noah Kurz stepped up to fill those positions. (Another notable absence was left wing Ryan Mack, who was out for undisclosed reasons.)
The Knights carried the momentum into the third, and they were able to keep the puck in the Eagles’ defensive zone for sustained amounts of time, it was an interesting turn of events, and it got even more interesting when the Knights most awesome player (MAP) Nick Colucci, put in a great one-timer (well, failed one-timer) goal, to bring the Knights within three goals.
“This is me being the eternal optimist,” Campbell said. “But I always think we have a chance to win, and when we went on a three goal streak I thought for sure we could tie or beat these guys. I’ll bet even Pete[ermichael Karekos] thought we could win.”
“Even I thought we could win!” said Karekos. “I had some sexy passes with Gavin [Furhmann], and Mac [Reston]. We were on fire!”
The Knights played extremely well defensively, up until the last three minutes of the game where they were caught being aggressive on offense, and the Eagles got a pair of breakaways and made the Knights pay.
“Like I said, there’s weird taste in my mouth after this one. I’ve never been in a better competition with anyone, and we lost eight to three. It was just a great atmosphere, and I can’t wait to play them again.”
Before they meet again, the Knights have a promising stretch of schedule ahead of them. They have four games in which the odds are even or in their favor. And if they were to run the table, they’d be that much closer to the third seed in the league.
Buckle up, folks, stuff’s about to go down.