By Ken Lay

The Knoxville Knights overcame a sluggish start Thursday night to claim a crucial 5-2 victory over the Knoxville Warriors in a Knoxville Amateur Hockey Association High School League game at the Icearium.

The win strengthened the Knights’ hold on third place in the KAHA standings.

“This win was big for us because it puts us in two points clear of third place,” Knights coach Greg Maine said. “It’s important for us to avoid Farragut in the first round of the [upcoming Moore Cup postseason] Tournament.”

The Knights (2-5-1 in league play] might’ve emerged victorious over the young and struggling Warriors (1-7-0) but Maine wasn’t happy with his team’s effort in the first period despite seeing his squad outshoot the Warriors 6-5 in the frame.

“In the first period, we played individualistic hockey and the shots were pretty even,” Maine said. “As the game went on, we played more of a team game and we outshot them.

“The focus of our game is to win the shots battle.”

The Knights, who would enjoy a 30-14 shot advantage by game’s end scored first and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by John Curry with 25.1 seconds left in the opening period.

The Warriors pulled even when Mitchell Bliss scored approximately 10 seconds later.

The Knights regained the lead early in the second frame when Isaiah Maine scored a short-handed marker with just 1 minute, 35 seconds into the frame.

Josh Maine’s unassisted tally gave the Knights a 3-1 lead a short time later.

The Warriors scored first in the third period when Bliss scored his second goal of the contest with 9:34 left in the contest.

Curry completed a hat trick with a pair of markers in the frame. His second tally of the game midway through the third stanza gave the Knights a 4-2 lead. He scored his team’s fifth goal of the game later in the period.

For Warriors coach David Roulier, it was another case of his team experiencing growing pains.

“We have a young team and we didn’t play as a team,” Roulier said. “Sometimes, when you have a young team, kids will revert back to some bad habits and play individual hockey and that’s what we did tonight.

“We have a week off coming up, so we can rectify these things and get ready for the rest of the season.”