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Knights fight through to Final Four

Savage wins opener in OT, Fuller backstops quarterfinal win

Joshua Spaulding image
by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

COLBY CLEGG (3) celebrates with teammate Nick Potenza after scoring the tying goal in Kingswood's opening round playoff win. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 07, 2018
WOLFEBORO — It wasn't the best game that he had seen his team play, but in the end, coach Mike Potenza was pleased with the end result of his team's playoff game against Portsmouth-Newmarket on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

"The only thing I'm happy about is the way they fought in overtime," Potenza said. "The rest of the game was completely subpar.

"But all that matters is the score at the end," the Knight coach added.

And in the end, freshman Bailey Savage scored his second goal of the game with 8:55 to go in overtime to lift the Knights to the win and on to the Division II quarterfinals.

The Knights fell behind early on. After Sam Danais had a good bid denied and keeper Joey Vetanze turned away a Clipper-Mule bid, the visitors came back with the first goal of the game just 1:32 into the game for the 1-0 lead.

Vetanze came through with a couple more saves and Sean Harrington and Andy McMullen had chances that were denied. The Knights got the power play with 11:32 to go in the first period but they were unable to generate much pressure and the penalty was killed off. Burke Ruel and Danais continued the pressure and Cole Emerson had a shot that was stopped and Danais and Savage got in close on the rebound but could not put the puck in the net. Colby Clegg and Nick Potenza also had chances and Vetanze had a few more saves to close out the period with the Clipper-Mules on top by a 1-0 score.

The Knights wasted little time getting on the board in the second period, as just 1:03 in, Savage picked up the tally on an assist from Danais to tie the score at one.

However, just more than a minute later, the visitors were able to take the lead back, putting home a rebound of a Vetanze save to take the 2-1 lead. Vetanze came back with a number of huge saves, including one right off a turnover in the zone that kept the Knights in the game.

The Knights took a penalty with 7:29 to go in the period and Sam Barton, Drew Luby and Potenza had good clears that helped to kill off the penalty and Vetanze made a number of nice saves to kill off the penalty. Barton and Ruel had scoring chances and the Knights got another late power play as the second period came to a close. Emerson, Potenza and Barton had chances in the final minute but the period ended with Kingswood down 2-1.

The Knights opened the third on the power play and Potenza and Danais got in close but the Knights could not put the puck in the net. Ruel just missed Savage in front of the net and Barton sent a shot wide. McMullen, Danais, Ruel, Emerson and Harrington all had chances but the Clipper-Mule keeper kept his team in the lead.

The Knights got another power play with 7:42 to go and Potenza, Erick Skelley and Ruel had chances, but they were denied and the penalty was killed off. The Knights got another power play shortly after the previous one was killed off and Emerson and Ruel had chances denied. The visitors had a shorthanded bid that Vetanze turned away.

With the clock ticking under three minutes, the Knights were able to get the tying goal, as Clegg put home a rebound to tie the score at two. Harrington and Luby got the assists on the tying goal and regulation finished with the score still tied at two.

The extra session saw Vetanze make a save early and Danais, Skelley and Savage had chances that just missed connecting. Vetanze then made a huge poke check of a loose puck in front of the net and then a save of a shot seconds later as the Knights held tight.

Finally, as the clock went under nine minutes, Harrington raced into the zone to the goalie's right, with Savage streaking down the other side. Harrington got into the circle and fired the puck across to Savage, who buried it in the net and set off the celebration in the corner.

"With the exception of a couple of minutes, we controlled overtime," Potenza stated. "We didn't play well for 45 minutes but we were able to come away with this one."

The Knight coach noted that it was good to see Savage put together a good game.

"That's a season's worth of hard work right there," Potenza said. "He's been playing with Burke and Sam the last few games and he's aggressive around the net."

He also noted the plan in overtime was to send the top point getters on the ice and see what they could do and they had plenty of chances early on.

"We put the top five point-getters on the ice at the beginning of overtime, we figured that was the chance to put the puck in the net," the Knight coach stated.

The Knights put it all together on Saturday night, as they knocked off second-seeded Windham by a 2-0 score to advance to the Division II semifinals, which took place after deadline on Wednesday night in Exeter.

Against the Jaguars, the two teams played a scoreless two periods before Ruel scored on the power play in the third period on an assist from Danais for the 1-0 lead. Clegg then added an empty net goal on an assist from Danais to seal the win.

Robbie Fuller was a monster in the Kingswood net, stopping 45 shots to earn the shutout and give the Knights the 2-0 win.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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