After a great day on campus the boys seemed very relaxed and happy, we decided to keep it that way and go out and see what we could do and then make adjustments throughout the tournament, we had our pre game team talks outside and talked about getting used to the speed of the games, playing to NCAA rules and to learn a little more about ourselves. We have prepared very well and as it our third trip we have used our experience to practice for the American game. We wanted to be intense and play from one offensive set and use certain defensive tactics. I felt good about the game and trusted every man on the team to play to a high standard, we wanted to start the game well but also finish the game just as strong, we will need every player over the next few days and wanted everyone to get a taste.
The game started very well with Chas Syme winning face offs to give us offensive possessions, I had said to chas before the game that if he wins the ball forward the defense probably won't slide and he had the green light to shoot, he did just that off the face off but the goalie made a nice save high. Matt Smith then got free for a step down shot but narrowly missed the post. Elliott Leonard also came close to scoring on a nice S dodge move. Dan Aspin then also shot high on a great feed from Oli.
We rode well and Joe Baythorpe picked off a clearing pass to feed Oli Loveland who shot high, unfortunately the Goalie made the save again but it was a great start.
Unfortunately Quiet storm then broke quickly up field and their star middle scored off a high shot on the run to make it 1-0 to the Americans.
We drew a flag from the next face off and had a lengthy possession taking a few shots until the ball went out of bounds for the penalty to be called. Joe then scored from a low bouncer from the right wing spot on the man up. We still looked a little nervous out there and Quiet Storm scored again making the score 2-1, I called a time-out to calm the boys down a bit and gather themselves and reminded them that we had had most of the possesion and where creating great shots. We where also winning face offs and the defence seemed to be on their game sliding well and recovering quickly, Matt Tatton is a great leader and organised and played well. We went back in after the timeout and after what seemed like 2 seconds Storm where up by 3, the ref blew for halftime and we made our adjustments changing our keeper, attack and defence around.
I told them at halftime that we could easily score three in a min and it would be great to come back to win. Enter Wacs connection Billy Kershaw and Will Cornwell who looked excited to play and they both scored some amazing goals for us in the second half. Billy's second was a pretty goal on a toe drag and great finish and a jump shot off a beautiful fast break, the break was started by Jack Burke who made some amazing saves at key times for us, he made a save and instantly cleared to a breaking TJ Burgess who got the ball to the attack who did the rest. Will then scored when receiving the ball behind goal, the defense hadn't recovered and Will drove to score! Jake Parker was dodging and feeding well after literally getting off a plane this afternoon. Cammie Syme was drawing the double dodging down the alley which opened up the defense for Will to score again. Will could have scored two more one from a dive shot which ended up with him entering the crease and the goal was waved off by the refs as per NCAA rules and then a greet feed from Cam into the crease from an alley dodge that Will only just missed, he then got the ball inside again a made sure he finished this time, the bench went wild.
Dan Walker played very well in the second half and created turnovers to allow us to fight back into the game. We where one up with 12 seconds to go and once again Chas won the face off to seal our victory.
The lads had done this by themselves and I was extremely proud of them. I have mentioned a lot of names above but this was a true team performance and one of the best I have seen from a Knights team in the USA. I don't want the lads to get too high from the victory, we enjoyed the rest of the night but have three games tomorrow. This is a great starting point but I know this tournament can be a rollercoaster, I also know the boys have a lot more to give and this is about making improvement through-out the tournament.
Check back tomorrow for more!