The Nepean Knights and Gloucester Griffins renewed their rivalry on Friday night, May 18th, at Earl Armstrong arena in Gloucester. The Griffins came into the game looking for their first win of the young season, but were defeated on home floor 13-11 in overtime.
The Griffins drew first blood at the three minute mark but the Knights responded two minutes later to even the score. Knights’ starting goalie Denzel Moran-Weekes then re-injured his knee on a harmless looking shot from Ryan Badour. The Knights backup goalie Ryan Kent didn’t fill up as much net as he gave up 40 pounds to Moran-Weeks. The Knights and Griffins traded chances and ended the first period tied 4-4.
The second period belonged to the Griffins on the scoreboard as they outscored Nepean 6-1 in the frame for a 10-5 lead. At the 17:27 mark, Carter O’Connell threw Max McDonald into the boards, setting off fireworks between Kyle Gardner and Jordan Hendrycks that would define the rest of the game. Gardner, McDonald and Hendrycks were tossed from the game, while, O’Connell (boarding) and the Knights’ Ty Thompson (roughing) were assessed majors.
Gloucester couldn’t score on the ensuing major penalty that lasted into the third period, but having doubled up on the Knights, and Tristan Staff having a strong game, seemed ready to cruise to an easy win.
However, pressure started to mount on the Griffins’ offense as they failed to score on another penalty to O’Connell. Costly turnovers and a lack of killer instinct let the Knights crawl back into the game. O’Connell even scored shorthanded to close the gap to 10-8. Griffins’ head coach Mike Dube called a time out midway through the period to try and settle his team but it wasn’t enough to refocus them. The Griffins would finally score near the end of the period but the ball came out of the net so fast the officials didn’t notice. Instead, the Knights’ Ty Thompson would finish a breakaway chance going the other way and pull the Knights within one. Then Staff took a delay of game penalty and the Knights made him pay 15 seconds into the power play.
In overtime, Cam McLean put one past Kent but it wasn’t enough as the Knights scored three in overtime, including Sam Firth’s winner at 6:25, snatching an unlikely victory from the still-winless Griffins.
Firth led the Knights with four goals and four assists, while Thompson scored four times and added three assists. Kent made 32 saves.
Nick Brayton led the Griffins with a goal and four assists. Max MacDonald and Cam MacLean had hat tricks. Staff made 38 saves.
The Knights remained calm and composed all game while the Griffins could not overcome their own mental mistakes. The Griffins’ coaching staff must be starting to feel the negative pressure mount as the season progresses.
The Knights and Griffins met again on May 25th. Nepean also won that game 11-8.