Tyrone Bronte’s breakaway goal 2:23 into overtime helped the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights cap off a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over the Jamestown Rebels Saturday night in New York.
It’s the second Saturday in a row the Knights beat the Rebels, with the last coming back at Revolution Ice Centre via a 4-2 final. The Knights improve to 13-20-2, splitting the weekend with Jamestown who drop to 21-10-4. The Knights collected five out of a possible eight points in their first four games of 2019, all of which came against Jamestown.
Saturday began as somewhat of a “deja vu” moment for Wilkes-Barre. Having come off a previous 3-0 loss to the Rebels Friday, the Knights were down 2-0 yet again at the end of the first period by the same goal scorers in the same order as Friday’s game.
First, fourth line winger Antonio Venuto shot a soft puck to the front of the net on Knights goalie Zach Stejskal, but lineman Connor Linton was first to it, picking up the rebound and giving it back to a net-crashing Venuto for the 1-0 score.
The Rebels doubled their lead with 2:36 to play in the opening frame after leading scorer Alex Frye found a lane on the left wing. In his 201st junior hockey game, Frye got into the zone, past defenseman Jordan Strand where he would beat Stejskal for the goal.
Entering Saturday, the Rebels previously held a lead after the first period 19 times. They won 14 of those situations, and it looked as if a repeat of Friday’s game was in store for this one.
And then the Knights battled back.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton managed to keep their composure going into the second, and two goals in less than a minute helped tie things midway through.
After both teams failed to convert on a power play through the first half of period two, the Knights would split the defect with a goal from Jeffrey Bertrand at the 10:53 mark.
The Knights transitioned up the ice with Sacha Guillemain leading the charge. With Bertrand to his left, Guillemain inched closer to the net, before flipping it across for the tap in goal to Bertrand, giving the Penn State commitment his 5th goal of the season. Guillemain’s helper gave him his 22nd point of the year, trailing only Jacob Badal on the Knights, who helped tie the game just 58 seconds after Bertrand’s goal.
Perhaps getting a bit of luck, the Knights barely kept a play onside despite argument from the Rebels, as Davis Pennington jumped over the line with the puck having the Rebels defense behind him. With Jamestown tying to catch up to the blue liner, bodies crashed the net, attempting to block a shot for goaltender Ryan Keane. Instead, Pennington slid one toward the net, having it hit off a Rebels player and in for the tying goal. Badal picked up an assist on Pennington’s sixth of the year. Pennington leads all Knights defenseman in goals, despite half of his six coming from either odd angles or fortuitous bounces.
The game was kept 2-2 going into the third, but Jamestown regained control of the pace, outshooting the grey and blue 14-6 in the middle frame. A scoreless third saw the visiting Knights unable to convert on three power plays, as the man advantage didn’t score on any of their season-high eight opportunities. For the second time in eight days, the Knights and Rebels were going to overtime.
Just past two minutes into three-on-three, Rebels defenseman Seth Bergeron coughed up the puck in the attacking zone. Wilkes-Barre’s Jordan Strand flung a stretch pass to Tyrone Bronte in center for a breakaway. Alex Frye tried to hustle down Bronte, but the second year Knight stayed strong on the puck, going to his backhand on goaltender Keane for the overtime finish. The goal was Bronte’s second overtime winner of the season, his eighth overall, and ninth point in the last 13 games. His previous OT winner came September 29th against. Maryland.
Up next comes the all-mighty Johnstown Tomahawks. The East Division’s leading team had a 17-game win streak earlier in the season and sits with 31 wins through 36 games, toppling all 23 other NAHL clubs. Wilkes-Barre meets them for a pair of games next weekend in Johnstown.