Photo: Jessica Kovalcin
On day two of the EHL’s December Showcase, the Knights met the New England Wolves for the second time in under two weeks. The first meeting saw the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton foiled by the steady goal-tending of Brendan Boncore (37 saves on 38 shots) en route to a 2-1 Wolves win.
In round two, the Knights were determined to come home with a win and four points from the latest edition of the league’s showcase series. Monday’s matchup featured not Boncore, but Chris Mattone in goal for New England while Jared Stahel would man the pipes for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Both netminders were unflinching in the first half, as each side mounted quality on goal in a scoreless opening 24 minutes.
A three-penalty period for New England would finally come back to bite the Wolves, when with exactly one minute to spare in the half, Tyler Watungwa bested Mattone for the game’s first score. Power play helpers from Tyler Nielsen and Alex Morawski. Watungwa continues to be an asset since his Knights debut which came on December 9th against the same Wolves. After his scoreless first start, the Ottawa native has gone on to notch a point in each of his three games since.
The Knights used the momentum of the late score to start fast on the attack in the second. Just 3:27 into the half, Jake Nimeh found his third goal of the season, courtesy of a William Case helper. Acquired on December 1st, Case, like Watungwa, now has a three-game point streak over which he’s scored one goal and four assists.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would continue to be backed by a steady afternoon in goal from Jared Stahel. After stopping all seven shots he faced in the first, the goalie turned away a second half upswing in chances, making 15 saves over the final 25 minutes. In conjunction with a solid effort in the net, the Knights kept the Wolves off the board on four second half power play opportunities, after killing off one in the first.
Between Stahel and solid special teams, the Knights continued to add to their lead. Rhett Padgett picked up his fourth goal of the season and the Knights second power play score of the contest at 12:37. Nate Chuckran continued the trend of new Knights scoring as he stretched his point streak to a third game with an assist on Padgett’s tally.
Chuckran would go on to score the game’s final goal just past the 20:37 mark off assists from Alex Morawski and Nick Peck. Morawksi is yet another Knight with an active, three-game point streak heading into the holiday break, with one goal and three assists over his last three outings.
At the final horn, the Knights stepped off the ice with a 4-0 win. Capping off a December in which he recorded a .925 save percentage and a 2.33 goals against over three starts, Jared Stahel finished with 22 saves in his first shutout of the season. The Knights special teams finished on a high note as well with their power play registering two goals in back-to-back contests, while their penalty kill was a perfect 9/9 at the December Showcase.
Needless to say, the Knights will enter the new year on a hot streak. In their last ten games, the team finished with a 6-4 record, scoring 4.00 goals per game, to 3.30 goal’s allowed. In their seven games in December, the Knights have seen their special teams surge on both ends of the ice. The power play converted on 23.3% of all chances while the penalty kill nullified 88.9% of shorthanded chances against. The trio of Nate Chuckran, William Case, and Tyler Watungwa have now amounted seven goals and 14 assists in 24 combined games played for the Knights.
The team won’t play again until after the new year in early January. The Knights organization wishes all its fans, players, staff, and volunteers a very happy, healthy holidays and a wonderful new year in which the Knights will be waiting to continue winning hockey!