Photo: Jessica Kovalcin
Round one of the Knights EHL playoffs continued Saturday when the team squared off against the New York Applecore for the second-consecutive day. To avoid elimination and force a definitive game three, the Knights would have to win or see their season end.
New York would quickly establish the pace in the opening period, out-shooting the Knights 12-5 in the first 20 minutes. Jared Stahel, taking the pipes for the Knights, and Benjamin Allard-Robitaille, back again for the Applecore, would not allow a goal through the first three quarters of the first.
Joseph Verboys ended the scoring drought when he bested Stahel off assists from Matthew Boring and Brett Reed at 16:10. The Knights responded less than a minute later, with Nate Chuckran burying a goal past Allard-Robitaille to even the game at one. A pair of apples came from Anthony Starzi and Austin Weber on the score.
On the very next shift, the Applecore would re-gain the lead when Brandon Napoli and Thomas O’Brien fed Connor Woolley for his first tally of the postseason.
In the second, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton offense would start fast and maintain pressure through much of the middle frame. Chuckran would gather his second goal of the contest, following a New York penalty just 1:25 in. On the game’s only power play, Bryan Whelan and Rhett Padgett set the table for Chuckran’s second game-tying goal.
Stahel and Allard-Robitaille would hunker down to stop a combined 21 of 22 shots in the period to keep the score gridlocked after 40 minutes. The pair would continue their hot streak through the first half of the third as well, as each side entered the final 10 minutes of play looking for the go-ahead goal.
Rhett Padgett found such a tally at 10:35, unassisted to give the Knights their first lead of the evening. Insurance less than than three minutes later would be added when Anthony Starzi beat Allard-Robitaille to build a 4-2 Knights lead.
Stahel (35 saves) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s defense kept a lid on Applecore’s comeback into the final minute of play. As time wound down, Verboys would find the net for a second time, bringing New York back within one at 19:26 (Connor Woolley). Wounded but not beaten, the Knights would rally to defend their net for the final 34 seconds of play, concluding regulation with the 4-3 victory.
The rubber match of the best-of-three series will take place tomorrow, Monday, March 12th at 2:00 pm EST at Brewster Ice Arena. The Knights will look on to move onto round two of the postseason with a win. The game will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com. Follow along on www.easternhockeyleague.org and at @WBSKnightsEHL on twitter!