Both Pope John Paul II and Independence/Summit were looking to end their 2017-2018 regular season with a win. The Knights were rewarded with their resiliency against the power play in the first period, slotting seven goals past the Eagles in a 7-4 victory Monday night at Centennial Sportsplex to conclude both teams’ regular season.
The Knights had four penalties in total in the first period, including a 5-on-3 advantage against them. They were able to kill of all four penalties without conceding thanks in part to Knights’ goalie Garrett Bennett, who had 10 saves in the first period. He finished the night with 31 saves.
“We’ve been, for the most part, a disciplined team all year,” said PJPII coach Justin Clark.
“Tonight, we got into penalty trouble early, which is always difficult. Garrett Bennett, our senior goalie, came up huge and made some big saves. We were able to dig deep, get the puck out, and that created some momentum to keep us in the game.”
Both Tommy Chunchukov and JT Ernest came alive offensively in the remaining two periods to help propel the Knights to victory, as both recorded hat tricks. Dylan Guy scored the final goal for PJPII with less than two minutes to go in the game.
For Indy/Summit, Wilson McKinnon scored twice in the third period to help soften the blow. Liam O’Neal and Nicholas Cervera also scored. However, the Eagles inability to convert on the early power plays seemed to be their downfall.
“We did struggle getting to the net on some of those,” said Indy/Summit coach Dan Miclette.
“We had a good first period overall. We’re still working on getting some of those things down. We’ve got a young team, so you’ll start to see that come together here in the playoffs, or early next year.”
Both teams can now turn their attention to the postseason, with PJPII riding a wave of confidence after winning five of its last eight. The Knights will take on Ensworth/Oakland in the first round Feb. 21, while Indy/Summit faces Centennial/Page Feb. 19.
“We were able to win five of our last eight, which should build some momentum towards the playoffs. We’re looking forward to playing a good team in the first round. We play to win, and we’re going to try and make a run,” said Clark.