This was a good season on all fronts. It was more than that, actually.
It was a championship season.
The Central Indiana Knights not only improved as a program in 2021-2022, they did so against a strong schedule – and improved as the season continued. They finished the season in fitting fashion: A state title.
“It was a pretty cool experience, actually,” Knights Head Coach Rob Pozzebon said.
The Knights – the Class 2A runner-up in 2020-2021 and team made up of students from Central Indiana high schools such Cathedral, Bishop Chatard, Guerin Catholic and Noblesville – finished ’21-22 with a 28-16-3 record. They were the runner-up in the Hoosier League tournament with an overtime loss to Carmel Gold, then won the Class 3A state championship.
Max Goodburn, a Cathedral junior, scored the winning goal in the state championship game – a game won by the Knights over Crown Point by a score of 1-0 at the Ice Box in South Bend on March 5.
“We ended up getting the one goal we needed to win the game,” Pozzebon said. “We played our best hockey the last six-to-eight weeks of the season. We played really well late.”
Indiana hockey’s state tournament is based on how teams fare during the regular season, with the most successful regular-season teams playing in the Class 4A tournament. Not only did the Knights move up to Class 3A in 2021-2022, they won regular-season meetings against five of the teams that qualified for the Class 4A state tournament.
The Knights added nine new players to the program in ’21-’22.
“Some of them were very good players, and some stepped up from their spot last year,” Pozzebon said. “As a team, we just played much better. It was a little bit of a continuation of what we built on last year.”
Pozzebon said the Knights improved in game concepts as the season continued, improving as a team and creating a team identity.
“In hockey terms, we played down low very well,” Pozzebon said. “Below the hashmarks, below the goal line, we really made plays and forced teams to be uncomfortable. We learned that about ourselves, that that was the best place for us to be.
“The more we bought into that concept and that system, the more successful we were.”
Pozzebon, too, said the Knights’ team defense improved through the last part of the season.
“We cut down on our goals against,” Pozzebon said. “We scored at the same rate we were scoring, or a little better, through the last part of the season. And when we got into tight games, we weren’t worried about it. We collapsed in front of the net and played really well in front of our goaltender.”
Cathedral players for the ’21-’22 Knights:
*Max Goodburn, junior center. “I don’t know that there’s enough time to talk about how well he played,” Pozzebon said. “He played his best hockey in late January and through February. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
*Grant Goodburn, sophomore forward wing. “He played probably his best hockey late in the season,” Pozzebon said. “We had a couple of guys out of the lineup for different reasons over the state tournament weekend. He really stepped up his game.”
*Jack Bettis, sophomore forward wing. “He’s a kid there doesn’t seem to be any moment for him that’s too big for him,” Pozzebon said. “He plays well and plays his best hockey in our biggest games. He did that again this year. He’s a pleasure to coach and he’s very exciting to watch play.”
*Will McCormick, junior forward wing. He joined the Knights after playing AAA hockey, leading the Knights in goals in ’21-’22. “He was instrumental in the team’s success and scored some big goals for us through the last couple of weekends,” Pozzebon said.
And while the Knights improved dramatically on the ice and as an overall program in ’21-’22, Pozzebon said that should also be the case moving forward.
“We have more players that are interested in playing overall,” Pozzebon said. “There’s a lot more interest in terms of number of players playing, along with the quality of players who are interested. We’ve taken big steps forward – as a program and as a team, for sure. It looks like that should continue. As far as the direction of the program, it’s very good.”