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Knights Storm the Gates



Last season the Connetquot Sayville BBP T-Birds shocked the SCHSHL by beating the #3 seed Kings Park Commack Knights 1-0 in round one of the SCHSHL playoffs. It wasn’t so much that they won, it was how they won. That T-Birds team was backstopped by Mathew Hughes, who tallied sixty plus saves in the shutout win. This season Hughes is gone, as well as his fellow running mates Jack Kiel and Noah Tloczkowski. It’s a daunting task to step into their shoes, but both Alexander Clark and last nights starter Shane Kirby have proven to be more than up to the task.

The T-Birds got into rhythm from the moment the puck dropped. A face off win by Mathew Campagnolo followed by  an aggressive dump and chase strategy. They placed a clear emphasis on keeping the Knights to the outside, while taking the body in battles up and down the boards. The T-Birds then hit their stride in transition with DeLeon finding Jozwicki who tested Knights Netminder Colin Caputo early on in the game. 

After making the first save, the puck sat still in the blue paint before being cleared out by a Knights defender. The T-Birds then got to work on the cycle, which allowed Ryan Fleischauer to create scoring chances in the slot. The Knights soon found their stride, first on a rush by Ryan Walsh, where he evaded both T-Birds defenders in transition, leaving him all alone in front of Kirby’s net. Walsh was stopped in his tracks. Another odd man rush opportunity came from KPC leading scorer Jesse Lemza, but Kirby made the pad save seem effortless. 

KPC kept on rolling, with a two on one opportunity being broken up by the poke check of a sliding Kirby. His flawless footwork and solid technique allowed him to move effortlessly in his crease, keeping the puck and his opponents in front of him. Brady Hall would later be called for elbowing, but T-Birds penalty kill excelled at keeping the Knights to the outside. The T-Birds generated a short handed three on two, but failed to get a shot on net. 

At five on five, the Knights continued to thrive while carrying the puck. The T-Birds excelled along the boards, relying on the cycle to generate shots. Kirby continued to make dynamic saves as the game progressed. On the other end of the ice Caputo was good when called upon, even when the T-Birds made life difficult for him in front of the net. The Knights Netminder seems to have a sixth sense for tracking the puck through traffic, all while conducting the defense in his own zone. By the time the first intermission rolled around, both teams were deadlocked at 0-0. 

The scoreless hockey would continue at the start of the second period, as the game took shape around a goalie duel between Shane Kirby and Colin Caputo. While the T-Birds continued to shoot for the rebound, the Knights continued to rely on their skill to create shots. The Knights Jesse Lemza managed to break free behind the T-Birds defense halfway through the second, but fired the shot over the net due to his limited time and space to make a play.  

With 10:11 gone by in the second, Brady Hall found himself back in the box. He was assessed a two minute penalty for kneeing. Once again the T-Birds penalty kill excelled. Connetquot Sayville BBP ran a tight box, trusting Kirby to handle the shots from outside. The T-Birds killed off the penalty by playing the body and getting their socks in the passing lanes. 

Shortly after the penalty expired, a clean breakout pass from Ryan Furst sprung John Coyle in transition. He split the defenseman, then fired a quick shot from just inside the left hashmark. Kirby’s shutout was over, KPC was on the board. Ryan Fleishauer, Connetquot Sayville BBP’s leading goal scorer, fired back with two quick shots in transition. Colin Caputo kept the score 1-0 KPC. 

Off the draw in the third period, Tyler Granelli ripped one by Kirby. Stefan Hludzinski was credited with the assist. With KPC picking up speed, the T-Birds tried to answer back. Then Ryan Fleuschauer’s tripping penalty near the five minute mark of the 3rd period put the T-Birds on the defensive. 

Carrying that momentum back to 5 on 5, the Knights did a good job maintaining possession under pressure. The T-Bird’s unrelenting style of play made that difficult. Midway through the third the Knights broke free in the slot, but a windmill glove save by Kirby kept the game within two. 

The T-Birds worked to get Fleischauer free in open ice, generating a two on one opportunity where his beautiful behind the back pass took even his own teammate by surprise. As the T-Birds started taking more risks to create offense, the Knights managed to create several odd man rushes. The score remained 2-0 in favor of KPC. 

With eleven thirty four gone by, John Coyle circled the net and made a cross crease pass to an uncovered Nicolas Sieglar on the back door. With a 3-0 lead in hand, the T-Birds bench made the decision to go empty net. Jesse Lemza buried it in the empty net. 

Three Stars of the Game

The third star of the game is John Coyle, who opened up the scoring late in the second period. His feet kept moving all night, allowing him to create his own shot as well as opportunities for his teammates. Second star of the game goes to Shane Kirby, whose sensational saves kept his team in the game. The first star goes to Colin Caputo, who shut out the T-Birds en route to the 4-0 win.  

Looking Forward 

The Kings Park Commack Knights have three exciting games on the docket. Sitting at 4-0-1 on the year, their next matchup is at 8:10 PM on October 23rd, against the Smithtown Hauppauge Bulls. Then on November 1st, the Knights will take on Tigers at 7:50. Then at 9:20 on November 8th, the Knights will take on Number One ranked Sachem. 

For the Connetquot Sayville BBP T-Birds, this loss drops them to 1-4 on the year. On October 25th at 9:20 PM, the T-Birds will take on East Islip. Then on November 1st at 9:20, the T-Birds will face off against the inaugural Longwood Lions Varsity program. That will be followed by a Sunday Night showdown with the Smithtown Hauppauge Bulls at 7:50 PM.   

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