After coming out on the wrong end of a 3-2 final Friday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went searching for a better outcome on Saturday against the East Coast Wizards. Both teams entered the day occupying third place in their divisions and fourth in their respective conferences.
The pair began on a even ground, trading goals in the opening eight minutes of the first half. Dylan Schuett struck first on a power play at 5:16, beating Knights starter Thomas Walker off the set up from Trent Pitser and Devin Panzeca. Jake Fuss answered two minutes later on a nice feed from Mick Heneghan to knot the score at one.
At 14:41, Pitsner solved Walker on a feed from Panzeca to re-take the lead. Thankful for the extra five minutes supplied by the showcase’s two halves of play, the Knights came back with a 5-on-3 power play equalizer at 21:48. Nate Chuckran pinched in from the top of the zone and through contact, willed a puck to Bryan Whelan. Finding the biscuit on the front door, Whelan ripped the puck by Wizards starting goalie Alec Marshall to once again even the contest and conclude scoring in the opening 25:00.
To start the second, the Wizards swapped out Marshall for goalie Jordan White. The move saw no halt in East Coast’s steady play from the crease. White followed up a strong start from Marshall by blanking the Knights in the second half.
Complicating the pace of play for both sides was the repeated trade of penalties on power plays. The second half began with 4-on-4, then saw it re-occur twice as each team shortened one of their own man-advantages with an infraction. Each power play cooling off, coupled with solid goal-tending from Walker and White throttled down the pace of play in the second. Though the Knights and Wizards combined for 28 shots, not one found its way home, bringing about 3-on-3 overtime.
East Coast jumped out to a fast start in the extra period. Thomas Walker was forced to make a tremendous save in the first minute, where the goalie stoned a 2-on-1 with a sprawling, flick of the glove. Walker would finish with 29 saves on the afternoon.
After a regroup, the Knights attack pushed back to force a power play at the 1:34 marker. Given a 4-on-3 advantage, the Knights didn’t blink. In the attacking zone, Nate Chuckran again played power play hero, sliding a puck through bodies to the back door for a wide-open Rhett Padgett. The Knights defenseman buried the game-winner over White’s shoulder to send the Knights home with a 3-2 win.
With the victory, the Knights split the January showcase, and keep pace in third in the Mid-Atlantic Division and fourth place in the South Conference. Their next game will come against the New York Bobcats Royals at the Dix Hills Ice Rink on Saturday, January 27th at 7:30 pm EST. Tune in on hockeytv.com and stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com for news and updates!