Knights fight to finish, fall to Birdville 3-2
Knights fight to finish, fall to Birdville 3-2
By Denton Ramsey / Sports Editor
The DeSoto/Grand Prairie Knights hockey team dropped a 3-2 decision to Birdville on Thursday night, Dec. 14 at the Duncanville Green rink.
And although the Knights fought to the bitter end, they came up one goal short as the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night.
With the loss, the Knights are now 8-2-1 on the season, good for 17 points and a tie for second in Varsity Silver standings.
“Mainly, we were playing a good team and we played them real tight,” Knights head coach Kenny Tyler said. “We were missing a couple of key guys, and we’ve done it before and been able to win, but we were really light on defense this time as two out of three goals were scored back there on defense.”
Birdville struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Tyler Henderson, assisted by Jake Rombach, at the 4:48 mark in the first period.
And just a few minutes later, at the 8:01 mark in the frame, Birdville struck again – taking a 2-0 lead on an unassisted goal by John Steele.
However, just seconds later, at the 8:14 mark, the Knights cut into the Birdville lead to make the score 2-1.
The Knights’ Ray Kizzie assisted Bryan Zientek for the DeSoto/Grand Prairie opening goal.
And after one period of play, the score remained the same.
Just 1:17 into the second period, Birdville regained their two goal lead when Casey Savage passed the puck to Rombach, who rocketed the puck past Knights’ goalie Matthew Padgett to make the score 3-1.
But once again, the Knights battled back – and just about a minute later the Knights cut the lead back to one goal.
At the 2:24 mark in the second period, Grand Prairie’s Jeremy Seiter netted a Knights goal to cut the lead to 3-2.
Loose play and sloppy puck control kept the remainder of the period scoreless, as the teams entered the locker rooms after two with Birdville on top, 3-2.
And although the Knights tightened things up defensively in the third and final period, neither team was able to score as Birdville held on for a 3-2 victory.
In the contest, Birdville out-shot the Knights by merely one, 19-18.
“In the loss against Birdville, we were missing Juan [Barrientos] on offense and Jeremy can’t win the games all the time,” Tyler said. “We were also missing Mike Brown with a shoulder injury and Joey [Joseph Aprile] got hurt halfway through the game, but both of them are okay now.
“But those guys keep pushing. Carlos [Delafuente] was real sick that day and still played, and I think the combination of all those things resulted in a loss – they were pretty flat. They are just used to winning and they haven’t faced a team that good – Birdville also had more depth than us. We put Brian Zientek back on defense in the third period and tightened up there after a couple soft goals.”
But try as they might, the Knights’ came up a goal short on Thursday.
The Knights return to the ice on Thursday, Dec. 21 as DeSoto/Grand Prairie faces off against Keller Silver.
The puck is set to drop at 9:30 p.m. at the Duncanville Green rink.
“We’re going to have 100 percent attendance at Keller, which is a good way to end things before the Christmas holidays,” Tyler said. “We’ll get our line back together with Brandon Christianson finally coming back from suspension – we’re going to try and get him more focused and make him a goal-scorer. At goalie, Matt [Padgett] is still trying to get his legs under him.”
One area where Tyler has seen improvement is in the number of penalties called against his team.
“We are doing much better on penalties,” Tyler said. “I’m going to push pretty hard this next week against Keller [Dec. 21] as I like to get momentum heading into the Christmas break. We’ll be at the Southlake Tourney Dec. 27-30 and will be playing against gold varsities mostly – we just need to keep our legs going. The guys have been skating pretty well, but they’ve been too soft.”
So where do the Knights need the most improvement?
“Our defense has been our question mark all season long,” Tyler said. “When you are running three continuous lines that can score, you’ve got plenty of time to rest your guys and get your centers back on defense.”
In addition to improving on the defensive side of the puck, the Knights truly need to stay on the same page with a tough stretch of games quickly approaching.
In other words, the time is now.
“We’ve got to take it up a notch, because the next four to five games are real crucial,” Tyler said. “It would be big if we could beat Plano East on Jan. 4. They are the team to beat right now. And if we could win that game that would show that we can compete with anyone in our division.”
Sports Editor Denton Ramsey can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com