Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Knights officially in the win column

There were major celebrations in Canberra over the weekend, and it wasn't in the political arena. It was the loud cheers from the Phillip Swimming & Ice Skating Centre, the home over the Canberra Knights. Knights fans watched as their hero's were able to snatch a late winner & defeat the traveling Sydney Bears, to finally get their first regulation win for season 2012.

The goal which sealed victory for Canberra was within the final minute of play, it erupted the crowd, fans out of their seats, players off the bench & celebrations on the ice. A hard fought win heading into the Queens birthday weekend is just what the coaching staff would have been wanting from the team, it's gives the hockey club a much needed boost as all teams across the AHIL get an early season break.

An even shot count of 29 showed that either team had there chances to win, but it was Canberra with the passionate crowd behind them who kicked ahead & got that all important victory.

Central to the goal which lifted the Knights above the Bears was import Lucas Schott, the Canadian forward was able to seal victory with only seconds to spare. Schott has started the 2012 campaign brightly, amassing 14 points from 8 games played. Definitely not a slow start be any means, you can't do much more than sit inside the top 20 points scorers in the league. Schott & his fellow North American Nic Polaski, as most imports do, seem to be able to find each other out on the ice. Both Polaski & Schott were prominent in the opening goal of the match, so it was only fitting to see the two close out the game in style.

It was also a penalty filled match with a full time game total of 21, which showed that the match was very gritty & physical throughout, something which Canberra will never shy away from. Canberra do enjoy a bit of gritty hockey, it goes with the premisses. Their home arena is a place where most teams dread going, it's definitely not a fancy arena like some teams have in the league. Not saying that's a bad thing, because it's something which Canberra can play off, add Mike Brown in front of the net & things get even more intimidating. 

The win keeps Canberra at the foot of the Bauer Conference standings, a place where nobody wants to be. It's still early in the season so anything is definitely possible by the time August comes around, we have a lot more hockey to play.

One can only wonder, what would be the scenario if the OT wins were taken within the regulation 3 periods?

They would of course still be sitting in third position behind the Ice Dogs with 12 points, but the moral & enthusiasm within in the squad could take on a whole different landscape. Right now they stand alone in that department, they have won more games via a shootout then any other teams. 

The defensive end seems to be a worry for Canberra also, they have built up a large amount of goals against, at this early stage. Which seems a little bit surprising considering they do have some talent in that area of the ice, with the likes of Mark Rummukainen, newly acquired John Kennedy & Mike Brown sitting in goals, teams should find it hard to slice open the Knights offensively.

Consistency also seems to be a big factor for the team right now, it's something that they aren't getting. OT wins had the club up and about early, but once they came up against the big boys things seemed to fall away. Opening weekend traveling away to Adelaide & coming home with an OT win shows exactly what this squad is capable of, consistency of being able to do it week in & week out is something which needs to be addressed first & foremost.

After that, other things will start to fall into place.

Can they do it? they now have a weeks break to start again & regroup, so only time will tell.

By Andrew Macdougall

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