Photo: Jessica Kovalcin
Coming off a tough loss against the Valley Junior Warriors, the Knights faced a tough task in hosting New Hampshire Saturday. Entering the day, the Avalanche had won six in a row, their most recent victory coming in a 5-2 affair over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Revolution.
With all of that set aside come puck drop, the Knights flew out of the gates Saturday afternoon. On their first power play of the day, just 4:26 into the first, Denys Arkhypenko sent a puck to Jake Fuss, who found Anthony Starzi parked in front of the net. Starzi tapped the puck by New Hampshire starting goalie Nick Sorgio to build a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later the Knights struck again when off the rush, Chris Petrone threaded the needle to a crashing JP Natishan for his first goal of the season. Austin Weber set up the sequence and was awarded a secondary assist.
On the very next shift, the Avalanche responded on a strange, yet savvy play by forward Melker Kroon. Kroon picked up a puck behind the net of Knights goalie Thomas Walker and flipped it off the back of a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton skate and into the twine. The score would lock in at 2-1 for the remainder of the period, but both teams began a parade to the penalty box that would span the entirety of the game.
That march swung decidedly to the Knights end in the middle frame, as the team took 6 penalties, twice finding themselves down 5-on-3. They killed off the first, but couldn’t stop the second, when Christopher Adamsons found a puck bouncing through a scrum in front of Walker and pushed it home. John Scala and Melker Kroon picked up the helpers on the equalizer at 17:14. With four seconds to spare in the period, Kroon settled a puck in the slot and flipped it over a diving Walker to take a 3-2 lead (Devin Hines, Christopher Adamsons).
The third period saw no relief in penalty time as the Knights continued to take frequent trips to the box. New Hampshire wasn’t a stranger to sin bin either, and neither team could capitalize on multiple power plays. Midway through the third, during 5-on-5 play, the Avalanche found necessary insurance. John Scala was fed a perfect cross-ice pass from Tyler Uravage on an odd-man rush. Scala flipped it home to build a 5-3 lead. Zachary Ahola was credited the secondary assist.
The Knights would not fade quietly as less than two minutes later, Anthony started a 2-on-1 back into the attacking zone. Starzi had Fuss to his left as he crossed the line, before Fuss cut inward to the slot. Starzi fed a puck in front where the Knights leading scorer went backhand over the shoulder of Sorgi to pull Wilkes-Barre/Scranton within one.
A penalty with just over three minutes to spare would slow the Knights comeback effort, as they were forced to their ninth kill of the night. While successful, it left little time for the team to pull their goalie for the extra attacker, thanks in large part to heavy pressure applied by New Hampshire’s forecheck. At the final horn, the Avalanche skated to the 4-3 win.
After the dust settled, the Knights play 5-on-5 play was encouraging, as they skated and battled well with the North Conference’s points leader. They’ll look to avoid penalties moving forward as they look to regroup on the road next week.