Under new leadership, the Hamilton ice hockey team is bent on breaking out of the Division II East cellar in 2009-10.
Taking a small step to overcome its 3-16-2 mark of a season ago, the Emerald Knights proved quite competitive in the Ontario Bay Tournament on Thanksgiving weekend, earning a split.
Hamilton would take the host team from Ontario Bay into overtime during last Friday's opening round, but lose to the Storm 4-3.
This was a game that got away. Tied 1-1 after one period, the Emerald Knights scored twice in the second period to seize a 3-1 edge.
Alex Brink was unstoppable in the early going, putting in two goals and assisting on Dylan May's tally. Kinnon Nolan-Finkel, just one week removed from playing goalkeeper for Hamilton's boys soccer team in the state Class D final four in Oneonta, earned a pair of assists.
Still, Ontario Bay roared back, tying it 3-3 in the third period behind Tyler Decker's pair of goals. And that momentum carried over into overtime as Devin Coon scored just 58 seconds into the extra period to win it. In defeat, Brendon Rusch made 17 saves.
Relegated to the third-place game against Watertown IHC (who lost 11-0 to Corcoran in the other part of the opening round), the Emerald Knights made the best of the situation, shutting out the Cavaliers 4-0.
As Brady Carroll turned away all 14 shots he faced, Hamilton unleashed 42 shots of its own, getting single goals in the first two periods and two more in the final period.
Also, the Emerald Knights showed much more offensive balance. Four different players -- Brink, Ricky Runyon, Kam Mikula and Blaine Holcomb -- had the four goals. May, James Smith, Derrick Rogers, Charlie Campbell-Decock and Brandon Thomas each joined Brink in the assist column.
Ontario Bay wasn't done in the drama department, either, going to overtime again in the final against Corcoran -- and winning again, 6-5, as Hunter VanHorn got four goals, including the OT game-winner.
Hamilton will visit Westmoreland on Tuesday before having its home opener Dec. 8 against Clinton. All home games are at Colgate University's Starr Rink.