Neither Ensworth-Oakland nor Independence-Summit began the season the way they wanted last week. Both teams came away with a loss in their first game of the season. So after making adjustments to try and get themselves in the win column, each team looked to come out strong and get on the board early in this one.
The players got themselves focused and into position. Then the game began as it always does, with a faceoff at center ice. Ensworth-Oakland won the first puck and gathered their troops together for the first rush of the night. Their attack was soon broken up however as Indy-Summit’s Andrew McColl brought play to the other end of the ice, taking a shot on net. But Ensworth-Oakland found their way back on offense, showing good pressure and putting pucks on net. A backhand shot was stopped, but a rebound was given. Jackson Jeansonne managed to collect the puck out of the scramble in front of the net, and bury it past Grant Williams for the first goal of the game at 12:16.
Teams reset for another faceoff and play continued with Indy-Summit’s Joey McCreadie taking a shot from the point while the opposing net-minder, Gavin Chezek was screened in front. The puck traveled through the defenseman’s skates, but the goalie managed to get a pad on it for the save. Play then went the other way on a turnover as Ensworth- Oakland’s Ian Macdonald is able to find some room and get a shot on net. Both teams at this point were showing a fast paced 2-way game as they battled for control of the puck. Indy-Summit’s fast paced rush toward the net had a hard time hitting its brakes however, running over Chezek and bringing a stoppage in play. Ensworth-Oakland took objection to that and resolved to put the pressure on offensively. While defending the attack, Connor Bain got called for tripping, forcing Indy-Summit to defend shorthanded. James Hitt quickly capitalized for the powerplay goal at 2:54, with assistance from Macallan Parikh and Dalton Davis. Play would continue with neutral zone battles for the puck until the whistle blew an end to the first period.
The second period began right where the players left off at, battling for the puck in the neutral zone. Emerging from the zone, two players wearing opposing number nine jerseys went toe to to as Ian Macdonald skated past Gary Hix to put a shot on net. The shot was blocked by Macnicoll, but the puck was sent tumbling through the air. Macdonald waited for the rebound to fall back to the ice, but his plans were ruined as Hix batted the puck out of the air, sending it safely behind his net-minder. The puck was not safe for long though as Jeansonne soon found the back of the net again thanks to the help of James Hitt and Ryan Seibert at 12:01. Play continued shortly thereafter as frustration is both seen and heard from Indy-Summit. Breaking through the neutral zone on the attack, Ensworth-Oakland’s Dewitt Thompson dished out a cross crease pass to Jeansonne, setting him up for a shot. Jeansonne fired the shot on his forehand, which connected to the back of the net, for his third goal of the night.
Indy-Summit stayed resolute though, determined not to go down without a fight. On the back-check, Liam Oneal was able to get control of the puck and get play back into the other end of the ice. Soon after that, Brady Myers finally finds a way to put one past Gavin Chezek, thanks to help from Wilson McKinnon, at 3:05. Play continued back in their own end. This time on an odd man rush, Gary Hix stretched out defensively in front of his net to block the passing lane during the attack. As the second period was winding down though, Ensworth-Oakland managed to pour a little salt in the wound as they sneak in another goal with less than a second remaining in the period, making the score 5-1.
The third period began with Joshua Miclette trying to get things going for Indy-Summit with a rush into the attacking zone and a poke check through the neutral zone, but play went the other way again. This time James Hitt tallies a goal on the glove side while down near the crease, with assistance from Lee Denson and Dalton Davis at 11:52. After the puck drop, Ash Warner showed patience on his forehand side as he tried to find an open space behind Chezek, but there was none to be had. Frustration mounting at this point, Indy-Summit took another penalty to go shorthanded again. While on defense, Grant Hall opted not to go for the easy clear, and instead go on the attack, trying to connect on a pass to his teammate. However, the pass was just out of reach. But when they were able to regroup on the attack, it was evident that Indy-Summit’s attack strategy had changed. They weren’t settling for shots from the point any longer. They were getting deeper into the attacking zone, looking to find open passes across the ice. Ash Warner managed a turnover in the neutral zone and again glided on his forehand side as he waited to pass to a teammate, but was unable to connect with him.
In the end however, Indy-Summit’s offensive spark would prove to be too little too late, as they put the final nail in their own coffin, ending the game with a couple extra penalties to top things off. Ensworth-Oakland took this game decisively with a final score of 6-1, and a hat trick night for Jackson Jeansonne.
Following the game, Ensworth-Oakland’s head coach Tim McAllister discussed their first win of the season.
I asked him if their fast-paced play at the start of the game was the plan they drew up to try to get on the board early. He told me that they made some adjustments after last week and that they did want to come out strong in the first period with offensive pressure. The plan was that their pressure early on would eventually lead them to the scoring chances they were looking for. From there, I continued by asking about Chezek’s great performance in net, wondering what the secret was to his success in net for them. Coach McAllister told me that he just had the right mindset coming into the game, and credited him with a job well done. He also credited his team’s defensive play. He mentioned how their defense did a better job coming together to stop scoring chances in front of their goalie. Altogether, he was proud of the team effort his guys put together on the ice, and was glad to come away from it with a big win.