Knights Fight (Futilely) in Sunday’s Plight

4679Sunday’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.


Knights Two-Faced in Doubleheader

Two-Face (Harvey Dent)The Canandaigua Knights are proving to be quite the conundrum. They are 3-5-1 in nine games; just one game past halfway and two games out of .500. They’ve shown they can beat the teams they should, but have been spotty in games facing opponents of a higher caliber.

The story line for the 2014-15 Knights has been defensive struggles contrasted by offensive successes.  They’ve scored 32 goals, but conversely, they have allowed 41 goals.

In a barn-burner on Saturday, the Knights put 5 goals past the Perinton Blades goaltender, but they also allowed 9 (NINE!!!!!!) goals. In games with nine goals against, “no one can take enough [blame]” according to the Knights goaltender Ian Campbell.

“There’s way more than enough blame to go around,” says Campbell. “No one can take enough of it. We had a lack of focus, effort, and execution. It’s on me first and foremost, because I’m the goalie, but the other guys also know what they did wrong, and what they did right. We know what we have to fix to win. We did nothing right today. So whatever we did today, if we don’t do it next game, we’ll win.”

Alex Melroy, a forward, and team leader said of his play, “I [stunk].” During this part of Melroy’s interview, Campbell, the goalie, came up behind Melroy in the locker room, and nodded vigorously.

“It was a total defensive breakdown,” said the defenseman Noah Van Stralen. “We were horrible.”

On the offensive side of things, the Knights were excellent with five goals. The problem was getting offensive pressure (not goals, but goals are nice, too) out of any line except the top line. The first line (Karekos, Furhmann, Kurz) had at least three goals, if not four. (Sorry, this is all done by memory and you tend to forget games that you lose 9-5.) The rest of the lines had spotty pressure, but nonetheless accounted for one or two of the other goals.

The Knights were thankful that they were given an opportunity to rebound the next day in Geneseo against the Livingston Cnty. Blues. The Knights went into the game a little cowed, but they were determined to redeem a little respect.

“I yelled at ’em before the game,” Asst. Coach Scott Reston said. “I told them to work hard, and love the game. It’s important to work hard all the way through.”

The Knights played a great first period, dominating a lesser team, as they should have, but the opposing goaltender did exceptionally racking up eleven saves in the first period.

In a particularly offensive offensive-zone possession for the Blues, they set up an excellent shooting lane, and they deflected the puck past Knights goalie Ian Campbell.

“I didn’t even get mad after that one. I was a little disappointed because my defense had done so well forcing long shots all game, but I couldn’t have done anything about it when they tipped it.”

Soon after though, Knights top goal-scorer Gavin Furhmann scored a beautiful goal to tie.

At the start of the second period the Knights continued their pressure getting a little aid from the refs in the way of penalties. Their problem was they weren’t scoring.  Even more problematic was the fact that about five minutes into the second period there was a scrum for the puck at the Knights’ defensive zone blue-line. Knight’s defenseman Sid Klass stepped up and got caught in the kerfuffle, thus when the Blues offensive player retrieved the puck, there was no defense, leaving an indefensible two on none, which the Blues scored on.

“That was unfortunate, it really was,” Head Coach Nick Van Stralen said. Because we had been dominating as far as skill, effort, time of possession, offensive attack time, and general overall domination.”

Fortunately for the Knights, Logan Davis scored. It was a excellent goal  that occurred on a freak breakaway.

“I deked the two guys, fell on my [bottom] and put it top shelf. Then I sat there thinking, ‘Did I just score?’.”

After that the Knights took over in the third period. They put away two goals, and pressured the Blues the rest of the game.


Alec Melroy was NOT wearing a mouthguard, and he chipped his tooth, and it looks sick.

Also, Ian Campbell is suffering a stiff neck after a tough hit he took in the first period of Sunday’s game. (It was almost unbearable to watch. Any normal person would have most likely, probably died. Vicious, vi-cious hit.)

The Knights are enjoying themselves and that’s what’s important. They’re refocussed after being spanked on Saturday, and Sunday was a launching point to get ahead in a tight league.


Knights Hustle in Hard Loss

4679This past weekend the Canandaigua Knights played the Tri-County Eagles, the number one team (undefeated) and they fought valiantly. After losing the first game 7-2, leaving some to question the effort of the team, they showed that they wouldn’t back down from a challenge, even against a team that clearly outmatched them as far as speed, and overall skill.

“Before the game, I asked the guys why they were here,” assistant coach, Scott Reston said. “When everybody finished answering I told everyone that anything worth doing was worth doing right.”

The first period began with both teams getting pressure, but the Knights dominated most of the play for the first half of the period. Tri-County took over in the second half of the period, and they pressured the Knights heavily. With some back and forth action toward the end, Tri-County swarmed, and created an open shot that went top-shelf, glove-side, past Knights goalie Ian Campbell.

“On that play, Melroy, I think, asked if I got screened,” said Campbell of the goal. “I could see the whole way, but the problem was I played it cautiously, and I backed down in my crease. I didn’t play it as aggressively as I needed to.”

The period ended 1-0. Tri-County up.

Second period play began with immense offensive pressure from Tri-County, and it was all the Knights could do to keep the puck out of their net.

“We got a little too sloppy in our own end,” admitted Jeremy Trillaud, senior defenseman. “We needed to stay focussed and not run around as much as we were.”

“I think the game really slowed down, you know, in that second period where I froze a bunch of pucks,” said Campbell. “I was just trying to stop (Tri-County) from getting so much pressure.”

The Knights were able to break out for some offensive pressure, and play solid defense with the play going back and forth, a lot of the later part of the second period being played in the neutral zone. But on one particularly promising offensive attack, Knights center Kody Laird, pinched up to help in a corner, and the puck went to one of the fastest skaters in the league, and starting at the far end of the ice, he diggled, and wiggled his way past four of five guys, going in between two converging defenders to go in on the breakaway, for an goal that he made look easy.

“I had broken one of the laces on my right pad,” Campbell said. “And he was right-handed, so I figured he would steer to my left, and I was right. Anyway, when he did that he eliminated my ability to skate, because I couldn’t push off with my right leg, so I tried to poke check, and he just slid it in past me.”

On this play Campbell also mentioned he re-injured his upper body injury.

The second period ended 2-0.

“I told the boys, that wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but we kept it close by hustling,” said Nick Van Stralen, the coach of the Knights. “I could tell they were tired, so we needed to get out there and score quickly.”

That’s what they needed, and that’s what Gavin Furhmann gave them.

“I kinda saw a little bit of space, I don’t know, and I just passed to Pete, who made it happen, and Kurz finished it off for us,” he said. “We needed a goal so, you know, we got one.”

The score for most of the third was 2-1, a lot of good plays on offense and defense leaving the crowd in a great deal of suspense but, the Knights got a penalty late. The Knights were doing all they could to stop the high-flying power play of Tri-County. Eventually, in a scrum play at the net a goal went in.

“Of all the goals,” said Campbell. “That one angered me the most. Somebody was hooking my leg, so I couldn’t get my legs together to seal my butterfly, and it ended up dribbling past me, five-hole.”

The period was almost over when a bit of a fight broke out in front of the Knights net.

“I had hurt my (upper body) in the second period, and one of the players from the other team tweaked it when they were jamming the puck, so I hacked at his leg a little, and he got a mad, so they were talking trash, and it ended up, in a twisted way, giving them a goal.”

Number 9, the player who Campbell spoke of, was fired up after the scrap, and he got the puck, circled around the net, just like most of Tri-County’s cycle plays, but instead of looking for the weak side pass like they did every time before, the angry player looking to make a vengeful play, sniped top right, off the post, off the goalie, off the other post, and, of course, across the goal line.

“I knew he was mad, and he was looking to make a play, so I tried to stay against my post, but if there was one thing I learned, it was that they always passed to the weak side or the top of the slot. That time, though, he looked for the shot, took it, and got it. A sick play really.”

The Knights were able to get a late goal with a six on three advantage with Tri-County taking penalties late. But it was too little, too late,  and they left the game without any points.

4-2 was the final score, and it was indicative of the entire game. Tri-County was a couple steps ahead of the Knights, who showed their best defensive effort of the season.

They fell to 2-4-1* Their motto going forward, is stated by Coach Phil Priolo.

“If we just keep moving in the right direction we’ll be fine.”


*The post Knights Keeper Lacks, Offense Attacks, was about a game that was considered illegitimate by the league, and will be replayed on 1/16/15.


Knights Keeper Lacks, Offense Attacks

4679The Knights, coming off of their 3-1 win were confident in there abilities to play a complete game against the MCYH Eagles of Scottsville.

The game was a little weird from the beginning, though. The home team, the Eagles of Scottsville rescheduled the game the morning of the game, and did so illegally, not maliciously (see end for more), throwing the Knights for a slight loop.

“When I got there, I looked at the schedule, and there was no 9:30 game,” Logan Davis said. “So I knew something was messed up, but when we asked the guy about the nine-thirty guy he was a real jerk about it and was just telling us that the league rescheduled that morning and he just found out about it too, but he couldn’t help us out, cause it had to be the way it was or something like that.”

The Knights regrouped, with Greg Trost attempting to get them some lenience. Eventually the whole team (excluding Sid Klass who didn’t make the trip due to illness) was there, and they got on the ice with about sixty-nine minutes remaining on the game clock.

The game began and the Knights got a lot of pressure to begin with. Petermichael Karekos’ line was out, and they were moving the puck and getting quality shots. About two minutes in, Karekos was down low, and the Eagles of Scottsville were shoving him over, but he managed to get the puck to loop over the goalie and dribble in.

“It was a weird goal, but I was aiming for that, and it worked,” Pete said with laugh.

The first period was about to end, when goaltender made the biggest mistake of his short career, a mistake he will never live down, and will be reminded of daily, if not hourly. On the penalty kill, the Eagles of Scottsville dumped a puck down the ice, and Ian Campbell (a name to be remembered in utter infamy) scanned the ice.

“I tried to make a play by sending Noah (Van Stralen) away, drawing their pressure guy to the left, and passing to (Jared) Priolo to the right. So I pointed to the left, and Noah and the guy moved. I looked at the puck, and then I looked up to Jared. When I went to pass, the puck was in the net.”

One to one. Seriously, Ian?

With seconds left in the first, the Eagles of Scottsville also got a screen goal.

“It was SO STUPID,” blurted Campbell, when asked about the goal. “It was just unlucky, (Alec) Mel(roy) had just slid into to take out their guy, who was trying to screen me, and I couldn’t see, so I opened my stance to drop back, and get a better view, and so when I heard the shot, I dropped, but I was stuck with my right leg out, and by the time I brought in, the goal had been scored.”

Going into the second period down one, the Knights came out strong. They got a tying goal, and shortly after that, the Eagles of Scottsville came back to take the lead.
Not being discouraged, the Knights came back and put in a nice shortsided goal. The goalscorer (You know who you are, but I don’t.) brought the Knights right back into the game. But the Eagles of Scottsville were allowed into the zone with a few minutes left, and their slot guy was wide open, and he finished for the four to three lead.

“I honestly don’t know what happened (on that goal),” Campbell says. “But the problem with that goal was it felt like there was no defense. It doesn’t matter because you win as a team and you lose as a team. I put every goal on me, and that’s that.”

With about three minutes left in the period, the Eagles of Scottsville began a break out in their end, and the defense, who had been on the ice for about five minutes, was tired. So Jared Priolo and his defense partner decided to change, apparently thinking that the defenseman coming off the bench could make the play, unfortunately, that change mishap resulted in a three on none that the Eagles of Scottsville capitalized on.

5-3 at the beginning of the third period.

The third period was as quickly-paced as any game in this league, with the game clock only having twenty minutes left, with fifteen minutes of game to go. The Knights made no mistakes going after the Eagles of Scottsville, who had a lack of effort to begin the period. The Knights scored two goals within four minutes, and with seven minutes on the game clock the game was tied for a while. Then, Gavin Furhmann scored the goal that took the lead for the Knights!

Buuuuuut, then Ian Campbell blew it.

Off the face-off at center ice, one on one with a guy that broke free (thanks Galvin) Campbell squared off, and got sniped short side.

“Really a perfect shot,” Campbell admits. “You know, unstoppable, or whatever.”

The game ended tied at six, with both teams disappointed in the result but not in their efforts.

The game will be redone, due to unfair timing rules, but that’s still up in the air. The only thing for the Knights to do is keep plugging away and working hard.


3-1, Knights Dominate

4679After a four game winless streak (0-3-1) the Knights finally snagged the elusive victory. They Played the Monroe County Eagles, and the defense stepped up and played big, and dominated the other team.

The Knights were excited to play with two players returning from injury. Ryan Mack (lower body) and Logan Davis (entire body).

Both teams had miscues early, but the goaltenders managed to keep it scoreless most of the first period.

“Yeah, we stunk in the beginning,” goaltender Ian Campbell admitted. “Both teams were litterally missing the puck! The ice was a little slow, but it was so bad at one point I just yelled ‘Can someone please move the puck in a forceful manner!'”

Forward Logan Davis had an enormous hit his first shift, which lifted the opponent (not a small guy) off of his feet and sent the same opponent smashing to the ground.

But with a few minutes left in the first, the Knights’ Jake Cleason passed to Zac Cleason who buried the puck in the the net. It was a beautiful goal from a line that needed to start scoringe

“Yeah, I don’t play sports,” said Jake, when asked about what he saw on the play.

Zac, with a suave smile, looked at the camera, winked and said, “Yeah,” when asked the same question.

Coach Nick Van Stralen was pleased with the performance in the first period.

“Really we only had one bad stretch of hockey, and it was during our penalty kill. So, overall I think we played very well in that first period.”

The second period was about halfway done, when Logan Davis got the puck and snuck one past the opposing goalie.

Welcome back, Logan!

Up 2-0 going into the third, Coach Van Stralen reminded the team to finish strong.

“I just told them that they didn’t do as well in the second period, but it was still good. They just needed to keep skating, and work hard to finish the game.”

The third was back and forth breakaway chances that both teams’ defenses hustled and kept it 2-0 for the majority of the third.

With a few minutes remaining in the third period, a fatal face-off took place to the left of the home net. Ian Campbell was pretty certain, Kody Laird, one of the team’s best face-off winners, would win, but instead, he missed, and practically handed it to the winger, who then, accidentally fumbled the puck, and confused the goalie, and barely slipped it just inside the post.

“I don’t think that it was anybody’s fault but mine,” Campbell says, humorously jabbing a finger in Laird’s direction. “CodLaird was just trying to keep me on my toes.”

With the score 2-1, the Knights were most certainly on their toes. Particularly defenseman Ryan Mack.

“I knew I could do it,” he said. “It was just a matter of execution, and visualization, and diggling the socks off of every single player on their team. That’s all. No biggie.”

It’s true he did beat every single player on their team, including the great finish when he flipped the puck past the goalie.

With a solid game in net, and an impressive defensive game, the knights capitalized on their opportunities and secured a victory.

When asked if he feels the team is where they want to be, Coach Reston said.



Knights Lose in Scoring Frenzy

4679The Knights faced the Perinton Blades at Paul Louis Arena last Sunday. The game was a roller-coaster of a game, where the Knights seemed to be in for a long day, with the Blades slipping two goals past Ian Campbell in the first four minutes.

“I was having a lot of trouble positioning myself in those first minutes,” Campbell said. “It’s tough to judge you’re positioning with the way their boards are, and I was just very uncomfortable in the beginning.”

The Knights responded and rebounded, getting a nice rebound goal from Kody Laird.  Someone else scored, too. 🙂 The Blades, though, came back with a lot of intense offensive pressure, and where able to skate the puck low, and get it out in front for an unstoppable shot.

“I should have had the man in front of the net,” Noah van Stralen admits. “But, actually I did have him, he just outmuscled me. I was blocking his stick, and he just fought through to get off the one timer.”

Only down one, with a last minute power-play that was carrying into the second period, the Knights focussed on what they were doing wrong on defense, and a couple things to tweak on offense, and they looked to execute the little things and eventually tie the game during the power-play.

Unfortunately a defensive mishap gave the other team a two-on-one, that they capitalized on, short-handed, with a one-timer.

“Don’t ask me about that one,” Campbell warned interviewers. “I don’t want to talk about that one.”

The knights were rattled, and just tried to fend off the more intense Perinton team. The second period was filled with penalty calls, and each team alternated power-plays, with the knights giving up three more goals, but Gavin Furhmann burying another rebound goal.

Going into the third, the knights were just saying stay with it, the other team had signs of giving up late in the second, and fifteen minutes is long enough to get four goals. Then the Blades blew past the Knights for the first few minutes. The Knights held on for dear life as the Blades skated circles around them. For about three minutes the action barely left the Knights end, and then Jeremy Trillaud was OBVIOUSLY tripped in the goal crease, and the Blades, not being called for the OBVIOUS tripping, snuck one past.

“I’m not talking about that one either,” Campbell stated. “This whole game made me mad, but that goal was the absolute worst. It was difficult to restrain from yelling in at the refs. Hardest job in the world and all, sure, fine, whatever, but call it how it is!”

The Blades let up significantly, and started playing a much more defensive strategy. The knights capitalized twice. Petermichael Karekos had a beautiful goal. Karekos walked in and skated the defenseman away out of the shooting lane, moved outside, and shot far corner, an incredible snipe.

“It was Ovechkin-esque,” says Campbell.

Within two at the end of the game, the Knights pulled their goalie, and had at least thirty great opportunity’s to score. The Blades goalie was in a zone stopping all of the late chances.

As the game wore on, the tension between the teams was building, and it was fueled by taunts directed at the Knights bench from the Blades players. It culminated in an after game scuffle, that was broken up, and sorted out. There were no penalties awarded, but Pete Karekos flipped the puck to the net as the Blades goalie was getting his water bottle, and the refs gave him a misconduct. Fortunately, he wasn’t suspended for any following games.

“Overall,” asst. Coach Phil Priolo said. “I thought we had a pretty good game. We had a lot of blown defensive assignments: two D in the corner, and the net was wide open, or not getting goal-side of the offensive player, but other than that, we really stayed with them. We just couldn’t grab the win.”

“It was those two goals in the beginning,” Campbell says. “Like I said, I was just uncomfortable, and it showed on the scoreboard.” Campbell was asked if he thought his team could be happy about the way the capitalized offensively. “There are no ‘moral victories’, if that’s what you’re trying to say, so we can be happy about whatever we want, but it’s not going to change the score on the board: 7-5. Which is what matters at the end of the day.”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.


Offense Explodes, Knights Just Short

IMG_3655The Canandaigua Knights midget team entered the Steelers 29th Annual Tournament with a total of five wins in nineteen games. Hot off the Big Thaw tournament (where they scored three goals in each of their three games), the Knights were feeling confident.

On Night One of the tournament, the Knights faced the Hamburg Blue Team 🙂 The Knights scored about four minutes in, and never looked back (except when back-checking). With help from the top line the Knights dominated Hamburg, with most of the play being in the offensive zone.

Ryan Mack, Neale Van Stralen, and Jeff Frelier all scored in the first. The first two goals were attributable to great skating and awesome diggles* (I’m looking at you Mackie). Jeff’s goal was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. He was in front of the net, and no one saw all six feet and four inches of him there. He capitalized, and the Knights went up 3.

  • *VERB Diggle DIG-uhl: a move that corkscrews an opponent into playing surface; usu. esp. ice.
  • Plu. Diggles
  • VERB Diggle DIG-uhl: When one uses a diggle. Mack said, “I’m going to diggle through you because I can.”

This mind you, with out the top two scorers on the team, Justin “Rolfie” Rolfe, and Hunter “Hunter” Goldstin. And after a season averaging just 2.45 goals a game.

Hamburg got a controversial goal towards the end of the first period. The refs called a good goal, but after looking at instant replay Ian Campbell offered (among other things) to buy the referees glasses.

Adding two more goals in the second, the Knights moved past the Hamburgers with four out of five points from the game. Final score: 5-2

Neale Van Stralen, who had an excellent night (1 goal, 2 assists, great back-checking and fore-checking) received the MVP for the Knights.

Confidence radiating throughout the locker room, team leader, Lucas Ruckle was settling down the younger guys. “We’ve still got six more periods, guys, six more till the championship! This isn’t over yet. But we’re four points closer!!!” [Eruption of applause–locker room style]

The team rested well that night, and everyone was ready to go for the second game. Still missing their top scorers and the MAP (Most Awesomest Player) Nick Colucci, the Knights were looking to the top line (Ruckle, Mack, Neale) for some offense. What happened next wasn’t according to the game plan.

The Knights were spanked.

They were playing the Steelers. The game opened up with a little back and forth action, but quickly it became obvious the ice was tilted, as they say. With about 80% to 85% of the play in the Knights’ defensive zone, the few chances they had were turned away.

“I don’t remember most of the goals,” says Campbell, the goalie. “But I’m sure they were good ones. Okay, except the first one.” He smiles. “Trillaud kinda took me out of that play.”

Short memory is necessary to survive as a goaltender, and Campbell’s memory had to be infinitesimally short, if he was going to have a chance. While he stopped around (most likely upwards of) 40 shots, the Steelers still scored five goals. The final score was 5-0.

Ian Campbell got the MVP of that game for the Knights. “That’s a tough one to swallow,” he says.  “But the medal is helping me realize that we just didn’t have a chance after a while. I’m glad I was able to leave it all out there.”

Then the second game of the day was played. It was between the Canandaigua Knights and the Amherst Knights. Amherst was in second place, and Canandaigua needed 3.5 points to make it to the championship.

The game was an even match for the first period, with great offensive chances for both teams, while both goalies played hard, stopping all the shots. Then, in the second, Neale opened up the scoring. WIth a coast to coast skate, Neale got to the other end, shot top shelf, and beat the goalie, and excited the whole team. Rather shortly after (I believe) Ryan Mack scored, going up two in the second.  The Knights held on to the lead going into the third up 2-0.

It was very important to score in the third. With one point per period, the points awarded so far were .5 for Amherst, to Canandaigua’s 1.5. If the third period was tied, then Amherst was in. Coach Phil Priolo let his team know it wasn’t over yet.

“Coach said we still had one more period,” says Tim “Timmy” Trost. “We could clean up some passing, and make sure we continued forechecking and back-checking, and we’d score and be able to come away with the victory.”

The Knights, both Amherst, and Canandaigua, came out firing. Amherst’s burst died out quickly, after a few shots. Canandaigua’s burst did not. After the first three minutes, the play was nearly entirely in Amherst’s defensive end. Jeremy Trillaud scored first in the third, to go up, and the Canandaigua Knights never relinquished it. One more goal was added by (someone on the team, you know who you are) to seal the victory.

Final score: 4-0

Ian Campbell had a 34 save shutout, and was again awarded the MVP of the game. Everyone on the team was extremely excited.

Coach Priolo gave everyone a 12:00 am curfew, and told everyone to be ready for the championship. For a team who had previously only won five games, any type of championship was legendary stuff.

Sunday March 16th, the Canandaigua Knights versus the Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers. Uh-oh.

With the confidence bubbling over from a much-needed victory, the Knights came into the game with a burning desire. The last game of the season, everyone wanted to give their all. With two defensive pairs and three offensive lines, the Knights were prepared to have an offensive game.

Quite unluckily, very early in the game, Knights captain, and tournament points leader, Neale Van Stralen was hit (“illegally,” in Campbell’s opinion) and he sustained a lower body injury.

Without Neale, the coaches were forced to shuffle the lines a bit, and the consequences were unfortunate.

Without Neale, the Knights were again dominated, and forced to play defense most of the game. Even with Roger Panara back for the championship game, no one was able to get the offense going for Canandaigua. The Steelers got six goals over the whole game. Dean Campese scored three of them. “And assisted the other three probably,” Campbell says. “That guy was on fire.”

“I wasn’t able to get the puck,” says Panara. “We were defending for ninety-nine percent of the time, so their D were pinching hard. It was too difficult to break out of our defensive zone, and so we didn’t get many goals when that happened.”

Not many goals is as good a way as any to describe being shutout, and for the Knights it was difficult to swallow. 6-0 is never fun.

“They’re way out of our league,” Lucas Ruckle says. “Literally. We found out that they’re actually a [bad] travel team. They were eighth in their league, but they dominated against us because we’re a house B team. I don’t really know how to react, but it was fun to play in the championship.”

Tough to swallow, losing the last game always hurts. But with a returning defensive core (Noah Van Stralen, Jeremy Trillaud, Jared Priolo, Jake Corey) following in the footsteps of Blaise Michael, a defensive standout and senior :-(, the Knights only need to worry about compensating for offensive losses like Jeff Frelier and Neale Van Stralen. Again 🙁

With Ryan Mack, Hunter Goldstin, and Roger Panara returning, most likely stronger than ever, offense should be strong. Tim Trost, in his first midget season, has developed quite nicely, as the game slowed down for him. With his great stick skills, and skating ability Tim can only tell what Tim will do next year.

The 2013-14 Canandaigua Knights were amazing. A great bunch of guys–a band of brothers. With a bright future for the midget team, it’s sad to say good-bye to the seniors. Once more, 🙁

But as the crazy cycle of players continues, one can only look forward to next year, remembering what once was, and remembering who once were.

That, and score goals 🙂


Knights Shutout On Way Out

4679On Saturday, the Canandaigua Knights Midget team was eliminated from the playoffs in round one. The talk leading up to this match was that Canandaigua would be eliminated easily, but they refused to go down without a fight.

The Knights were seeded sixth, playing the Tri-County Eagles the third best team in the Empire League. History suggested a close match, with a 43.6%* chance of a blowout.(*Rough Metaphorical Math.)

The first contest between the teams this season provided suspense until the very end, with Knights goaltender Ian Campbell fending off a fair amount of shots to hold on to a shutout. 1 – 0 the final score was telling of the amazing defense played by each team, both offenses forcing defensive perfection.

The second go around was more lopsided with the Eagles capitalizing five times on Campbell. All were shots created by passes to the backside. The Eagles’ lateral puck movement sealed the game as they breezed by 5-2.

Going into the third matchup the story was less about the teams skills as their numbers. With injuries to wingers Jack Cutri, and Wyatt Tatakis, the line-up was shaken. To add to the disorientation in the line-up, center Kody Laird, and David Frelier suspended in the last game for fighting. With only eleven skaters slated to show up, would Canandaigua be able to hang with Tri-County’s full roster? [Blaise Michael was not in attendance for undisclosed personal reasons.]

The end of the season wasn’t pretty, another reason the Eagles were favored leading up to the game. In the final regular season game, which team leader Lucas Ruckle called “embarrassing”, the Knights were beaten 8-1 by the Monroe County Eagles. After a thumping the Knights’ confidence was significantly shaken.

“[Man,] Anytime you get beat like that you’re gonna doubt yourself, no doubt,” winger Nicholas Colucci commented.

With that win by the MC Eagles, the Rochester Americans moved to second, and the Knights stayed put in sixth place. They found they were to play the Tri-County Eagles.

Before the playoff game, the Knights had dropped six of seven games, outscored on average 2 to 1. “It definitely gets to you,” says Campbell, regarding the losses. “As a goaltender, you start to over-think all of your movements. You stop trusting teammates to do their job, and everyone’s running around trying to do [everyone else’s] jobs.”

The situation wasn’t bright, with some fans even tweeting their disdain for what they saw as lack of effort. The Knights were feeling the pressure, but, before the playoff game, “I don’t think anyone was doing anything different,” said Assistant Coach Nick van Stralen, filling in for Head Coach Phil Priolo. (Unable to coach due to familial circumstances.) [His son Jared Priolo, a defenseman, also missed the game.] “The guys did a good job ignoring the hype, and stuck to their routines. Colucci was slow dressing, and Trillaud got pumped up with his music. It was business as usual.”

The moment the puck dropped the game was defined. A couple of rushes for both teams, it seemed to be a game of finesse from the Eagles, and hard work from the Knights. A couple of rushes were stymied by both sides, as the game settled into it’s rhythm. “Coach told us before the game we needed to score early,” says Ryan Mack, who led the team in shots. “He also said our forechecking needed to be more aggressive. He wanted to make sure we had short shifts, and just stayed in control of the puck,” Mack says with a smile. Controlling the puck is one of his strengths.

Captain Neale van Stralen was happy with the first period, saying, “Defensively we were solid, Jeff [Frelier] was mixing it up, and we did well offensively, with everyone getting shots. Even Noah [van Stralen]!” he says with a wink at his younger brother. “Without Rog[er Panara] we just didn’t get any real good chances, and they did a great job shutting down Hunter [Goldstin].”

The Knights’ goaltender Campbell was stellar in the first period, looking locked in, always square to the puck, stopping [some unknown amount of] shots.

Going into the second tied at zero was to the Knights advantage says Mack. “… when we huddled during intermission I just told the team ‘Their defense is giving up so many breakaways! Even Timmy [Trost] got one!”–Mack smiles–”Let’s pressure them!’ just trying to get them fired up, you know?”

It was midway through the second period when the first goal was scored by the Eagles. “I feel like I lost the puck a little,” Campbell says. “There were a couple of my D[efensemen] screening me, and actually I didn’t see the guy who came in to jam at the rebound, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my leg over in time. Kudos to them; great play.”

The score stayed the same as the game wore on, closing the second with the pace of the game shifting. “In the second, I think things shifted,” Coach van Stralen told the team. “With only three defensemen, we were wearing out.”

The game drifted into the third with Campbell fighting off shot after shot as the offense became steadily one-sided. At the six minute mark Tri-County buried a goal that took all the wind out of Canandaigua’s comeback sails.

“It was an unfortunate goal,” Campbell says. “I just misjudged the guy. I thought he was going blocker-side–I think he thought he was going blocker side, and I gave him a little room glove-side, and he took it. Perfect shot, really.”

With the game practically out of reach for Canandaigua, the game finished mostly in the Canandaigua defensive zone. Tri-County’s  #15 punched in the final goal, adding insult to injury, making it 3-0. “Number fifteen was really bothering me,” Campbell says. “He took a run at Rolfie [Justin Rolfe], and a slash at [Jake] Corey. I wanted to have a go at him after that third goal.”

With the  disappointing loss, Canandaigua can only look forward to next year. “I was talking with Ian,” Lucas Ruckle said, “and we both agreed: Next year is looking good. We’ve got guys getting better everyday on this team, and we’ll only lose three or four guys [after this season], so with the new recruits from Bantam it should be exciting.”

The team finished the regular season 5-11-1, with one playoff loss. A tough season, no doubt, but fun nonetheless. “This is the end of the regular season, so now it’s time to have a little more fun, just playing loose at the tourneys [Big Thaw, NCCYH Steelers]. Time to relax a bit, and enjoy being with the guys.”

With the regular season over, non-league games are the only thing left to focus on for the team. Should be an entertaining last stretch with excellent goaltending, and lots, lots more goals.