There’s much to like so far and much more to anticipate.
The Central Indiana Knights are a young team with room to grow as the 2023-2024 season continues, which figures to make the postseason intriguing – and exciting.
“We’re doing OK; this is an interesting season,” Knights coach Rob Pozzebon said.
The Knights – a high school hockey team of players from Cathedral, Noblesville, Guerin, Fishers, Park Tudor, Hamilton Southeastern and Bishop Chatard – were around .500 as of mid-January. They were 3-3 in Hoosier League play at the time and 6-5 in crossover games.
“We seem to be able to beat anybody and we seem to be able to lose to anybody,” Pozzebon said. “It’s a bit crazy.”
The 2023 Knights are a mix of experience and talented youth with 10 new players added to a roster that won the Hoosier League tournament in 2023 and also qualified for the Class 4A tournament – Indiana high school hockey’s highest classification. The Knights’ schedule in ’24 is skewered toward higher-classification teams because of the ’23 finish.
“We kind of get locked into playing these upper teams because of what we were last year and we're just not as good as last year, but that's okay,” Pozzebon said. “It's funny because we've won games both ways.
“We’ve been blown out a couple of times, but we’ve managed some games to outscore teams and we can win close games as well.”
Multiple new players on a Knights team in transition are seniors, including two former AAA players from Cathedral – Joe Konesco and Max Max Engel – who are the Knights’ leading scorers.
“It has been nice to have them added on,” Pozzebon said. “They've been a little bit of a spark for us. I'm not sure where all the goal scoring would come from if it wasn't for them. They kind of get us rolling.”
Pozzebon said the Knights have the potential for a strong postseason run, something the program has accomplished multiple times in his four seasons as coach. The Knights were the Class 2A runners-up in 2021 and the Class 3A state champions in 2022 before their strong 2023 season.
“This reminds me of my first year,” Pozzebon said. “We didn't play great early and we just kind of picked it up in January and February and started playing good hockey. We kind of did the same thing in my second year when we won the Class 3A tournament. We played great down the stretch. We stopped giving up a lot of goals and we were just comfortable playing in close games.”
“That's where we need to get with this team.”
Cathedral players for the Knights in ’23-24:
*Senior forward Grant Goodburn. A four-year player, he has transitioned to defense this season. “He’s been a nice addition to the defensive group,” Pozzebon said.
*Senior forward Jack Bedich, a four-year player and 2024 captain. He had one assist in Hoosier League as of mid-January and one goal with three assists in crossover games. “I think if you asked him, he wishes he had scored some more goals for us,” Pozzebon said. “The leadership part has been good for him, but it has offered a different challenge. I don't think he knew exactly what to expect. He was working through some of that earlier, but he has been good for us this year.”
*Junior forward Charles McCormick. He had two goals in Hoosier League through mid-January. “Charles is having a great season,” Pozzebon said. “He's added some timely scoring, but he's such a great defensive forward. He's one of the best penalty killers we have had for a couple years. He's just a tough, grinding kind of player. I'm super happy with how he's playing this year. He has been a good leader for our young guys and he has been very positive this year.”
*Konesco. He had seven goals with six assists in Hoosier League and eight goals with 12 assists in crossover games through mid-January.
*Engel. He had five goals with two assists in Hoosier League and seven goals with two assists in crossover games through mid-January.
“It’s an odd year,” Pozzebon said. “Our young players are playing well. They’re just young. One of our biggest problems is a lack of consistency. We can play a great period and then kind of take the period off. We can play a great game and then play like a really kind of mediocre game. It’s interesting. It's just a matter of trying to figure out exactly how to get them to play better.
“We need to play well in close games. Right now that’s where sometimes we lose our composure. Overall team defense is where we need to get to. We are not playing good solid team defense. At times we can, but that's been the biggest challenge and it's really evident right now.”