Thursday’s second round of Main Camp paired growing stakes with rising intensity. To the credit of all participants, their passion was the same from the opening puck drop of game one to game eight’s final horn.
“The pace has picked up,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “The talent level has been higher. It’s going to be tough to make the team. It’s going to be a tough decision come tonight when we have to make cuts to figure out who make the All-Star games tomorrow. Our young guys have picked it up and adjusted to junior hockey teams as well. Our veterans have been holding their own. The handful of spots that are available are going to be tough to pick.”
The Knights will trim camp rosters down to four teams to play in two separate all-star games on Friday. Many players have made their case to take part. The candidates are a composed of a strong blend of newcomers and veterans.
-Matt Kidney combined with tenders Josh Fricks (forward) and Tom Farrell (defenseman) to lead Navy to a perfect 3-0 record through day one and two. The trio combined to score three goals and two assists in two games Thursday.
-Paul Maust, Reed Robinson, and camp invite Tyler Uravage paced team Purple in their 2-1 record over both days, only losing to Navy. They combined to score three goals and six assists Thursday, making them a leading contender for the best line combination of camp.
-Team Yellow was again lifted by Curtis Carlson’s blistering speed, highlighted by his multi-goal effort in squaring off against team Blue. Goaltender and Knights draft pick Christian Stoever was steady in net throughout the day.
-Team Red received another strong contribution from Dana Engram as he contributed a goal and a pair of assists to compliment day one’s multi-point performance. Knight’s defenseman and Brown commit Dorian Dawson laced a perfect pass to Brendan Manning for the tap-in goal against Green.
-Camp invite Kiryll Ulanov helped drive team Blue’s forecheck, adding a few helpers while veterans Mike Morrissey and Elijah Latimer delivered a rocket, top-shelf snipe and a coast-to-coast goal, respectively.
-Team Grey won both its games on day two off Jack Olmstead shootout goals. In the camp’s sudden death shootout format, Olmstead was given the leadoff role in both games. He was a perfect two-for-two using what he described as his “go-to move,” going top shelf off the backhand.
-Mike Gelatt set a physical tone for team White, recording a goal and two assists while rattling the boards up and down the ice. Kevin Hatten matched Gelatt’s stat line, adding to his goal from game one.
-Team Green joined team Navy in the ranks of the undefeated, capped by goalie Dave Tomeo’s fierce performance in the squad’s chippy, final game. Most notably, the netminder made a lounging save from his knees while tangled with skaters in the crease.
-The team continues to be impressed with the solid goaltending performances this week.
“I would really feel secure leaving here knowing that our goaltending situation is solid,” said head scout Justin Schreiber back on Wednesday, day one of camp. “It’s tough not returning a goalie from last year. We addressed that through tender season and the draft. Judging from the first day of camp, we have some really good goalies here.”
Kowal backed up that assessment on day two. “We’re really happy with the goaltending we’ve seen in camp so far,” he added.
-The Knights are pleased with the depth of their blue line this camp:
“We’re pleased with the defensemen we added to the roster this year,” said NAHL assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “I think the biggest thing we wanted to improve on was size in our defenseman. We have some bigger, stronger defensemen this year. Guys like Thomas Farrell and Blake Kryska stand out and have exceeded our expectations thus far. We hope that continues.”
Tomorrow’s meeting of top performers will help the team answer further questions they may still have before the regular season. Through the night, the Knights staff will create the teams that will compete Friday to fill out the Knights roster.
“We have two all-star games tomorrow,” said Kowal. “With the first one-you’re probably not going to see too many veterans in that game. We’re looking for guys we haven’t drafted, we haven’t tendered, we haven’t been able to see a lot over the past year. We want to give some of those guys one more opportunity to play with what we feel is the top half of our camp. The guys in those spots will be paired up with our veterans and our draft picks [and tenders] who are the guys we feel pretty strongly about making our team. We’ll pair them up and put them up against each other and let them have some fun tomorrow evening. Then we’ll figure out who we’re going to pick for our roster for September.”