The Knights wrapped up their final day of main camp with a pair of all-star games Friday. The team is now moving into the final stages of finalizing their roster, and setting their expectations high.
“We grind pretty hard throughout the year to get campers here,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “Getting guys together we feel that are non-roster invites that could make our team on top of guys we draft and tender-that’s the fun part. Starting with eight teams of 20 guys and whittling them down to the last two teams; it’s a painstaking process but it’s not without it’s fun too.”
In the first game of the day, Navy and White rosters were largely comprised of the most impressive camp invites. Friday’s first goal came from defenseman Paul Luebke as he took a pass from Sean Detloff and let go a dart from the high slot. Luebke wasn’t done. Before the end of the frame, he gave White a 2-0 lead with his second goal of the game.
JP Natishan and Jake Putnam were catalysts for team Navy as with crisp passing, they set up Alex Morawski’s perfect snipe to make it a 2-1 game in the early second. White’s lead held for the rest of period as both the goaltenders and defense stood their ground.
The trend would continue into the third period before finally Sean Detloff set up Jared Lombardi to give White a 3-1 lead. That score would hold until the final horn.
The day’s second match up featured the best performers from game one matched with the remaining camp standouts. Team Navy made an immediate splash behind the skill of their Knights NAHL veterans. Tic-tac-toe passing from Dorian Dawson and Mike Morrissey allowed Adrian Danchenko to flip a puck inside the post for the team’s first goal.
Navy didn’t relent. Camp invite Jake Sandomeno drove down from the blue line to hammer home his team’s second goal of the period with apples credited to Josh Fricks and Cory Ellerton. Not long after, Curtis Carlson flashed through the offensive zone to create a rebound that Jack Olmstead ripped through to build a 3-0 advantage
Late in the first, White snapped Navy’s momentum with a Lincoln Hatten rebound goal, set up by a shot from Bobby Freiling and a pass from Paul Cimilluca.
Reed Robinson capitalized on another juicy rebound a few shifts later on assists by Jake Goldowski and Matt Kidney to bring White within one at the end of the first.
Veterans Mike Gelatt and Andrew Jackson set up Goldowski, a Penn State commit, who’s wrister from the slot brought White even at three mid-way through the second frame. A failed power play for Navy and Lincoln Hatten’s near-goal, spurned only by a great Navy save were the closest efforts to finding another score before period’s end.
The tie was finally broken in the third, as the line of Gelatt-Jackson-Goldowski took over. Their first tally of the period came when the wingers found Jackson open on the back door off a rush. The second was a product of St. Thomas commit Elijah Latimer sending a puck to Jackson, who then fed it on to Goldowski who skipped the puck to the twine.
Off the back of five unanswered goals, team White skated to a 5-3 victory to close out Knights Main camp. With Friday’s games concluded, the Knights have their best idea yet of what talent they’ll bring to 2017-18 season.
“I think we have a lot of speed up front with our forwards, along with a strong returning group of veterans there,” said NAHL assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “One thing we’ve wanted to work on is beefing up our blue line and adding some size, and we’ve been happy with that. The goal-tending has been really consistent as well.”
The Knights next step in the offseason will be when the team reports to training camp in early September. Head coach Tom Kowal is excited for the season to get started.
“The message we’re gonna send to our guys once they make it is that the hard part starts now,” he said. “We come back in a month, and Blaine’s only two months away. That’s the Super Bowl of the North American Hockey League besides the Robertson Cup. We’re hoping that motivates them to be better. Like I said a couple days ago, our goal isn’t to get to the playoffs. Our goal is to get out of playoffs and get the Robertson Cup. Anything shy of that, we’re not envisioning it right now.”