Knights Take 2021 Eastern Shore Street Hockey League Championship

The Knights, 2021 Eastern Shore Street Hockey League champions, pause for a postgame photo. From left are Taylor Parks, Joseph Cornwell, Michelle Eno, Ray Johnson, Mike McCready, Derek Hail, Austin Studebaker, Patrick Christman, Thomas Eno, and in front, goalie Alex McCullough.

Story and Photo by Matthew Yoder
Faced with elimination, the Knights convincingly won back-to-back games Sunday against the Ducks to take home the trophy as 2021 champions of the Eastern Shore Street Hockey League adult division.

The Ducks dominated throughout the entire regular season, blending a mix of strong backline defending, timely scoring, and rock-solid goaltending. The Ducks mastered that same recipe for Game 1 Sunday to put the Knights on their heels in the three-game finale. They did so without the services of stalwart defender, Matthew Sullivan, who suffered a pinched nerve in the Ducks’ semifinal series against the Wings.

The Ducks nonetheless looked poised to make the day a strong uphill battle for the Knights, winning the first game 4-1. Cole Chaplin scored the first goal of the game for the Ducks, throwing the ball towards the net, benefiting from a carom off the Knights’ defense. From there, Thomas Hart and Anthony Taylor played a great two-man game, keeping possession of the ball and setting up one another for good looks.

In the second period, Hart found Taylor with a great pass from behind the net for an open look and slam-dunk goal. Taylor scored again in the third period on a rebound from a good, low shot from Dustin Aigner, and the Ducks’ defense clamped down, blocking shots and frustrating a robust Knights’ offensive attack.

The tables dramatically turned in Game 2, as the Knights wasted no time scoring early, with Taylor Parks breathing new life into his team. ­Alex McCullough provided a pair of great saves in the net for the Knights midway through the first period, and Parks added a second goal late from just inside midcourt.

The Knights further frustrated the Ducks in the second period, adding a pair of goals, first from Joseph Cornwell and a hat trick goal from Parks, to surge to a four-goal lead. Taylor scored late in the period for the Ducks, and despite a strong push early in the third period, the Ducks could not wedge into the deficit they had dug for themselves. The Knights matched the Ducks with a 4-1 win in Game 2, setting up a decisive third game for the title.

The Ducks seemed to put aside their frustrations of the previous game, as Aigner raced from his center position to set up Hart for a goal seconds into Game 3. Justin Wheeler then stopped the Knights’ Thomas Eno, in close, but shortly thereafter the floodgates began to open. First, Cornwell found Derek Hail for a turnaround goal, then Hail set up Parks for a goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway after the Ducks defense was caught out of position in the Knights zone. Parks would score again in the first period, pushing the lead to two, 3-1.

The second period was played close, but Parks scored again late for the Knights, giving them a three-goal edge with 8 minutes to play. The final period of the season was owned by the Knights, with Hail scoring a shorthanded goal and Eno adding a pair of goals late to give the Knights a 7-1 win, and more importantly a well-earned spot atop the league for 2021.

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