EHL Weekend Recap: Knights Split Weekend in Massachusetts

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

FRIDAY:

Entering play this weekend, the Knights looked to bounce back following two losses in the November EHL Showcase. Their first opponent, the Boston Jr. Rangers, began Friday as the leader of the league’s Boston division.

Things began slowly for the Knights, as the Jr. Rangers carried early play, out-shooting the Knights 20-10. Boston notched their first goal halfway through the opening frame. Zach Norby fired in off the rush to bury the puck, assisted by Filip Steussloff and Daniil Ovchinnikov. Anthony Nikoloplous followed that up by flipping a puck by Knights goalie Thomas Walker off helpers from Bobby Kinsey and Damien Dangueuger to put the Rangers up 2-0. A third Boston goal would be put on the board at 18:26, when John Grealish capitalized just 10 seconds into the Knights first penalty of the game (Jared Bernis, Norby).

The Knights would not quit. Their captain and leading-scorer, Jake Fuss fired a puck past goalie Ben Parker in the 1st period’s final second. The tally was Fuss’ 20th of the season. The lone assist was attributed to Anthony Starzi, as the Knights went to the locker room down 3-1.

In the middle frame, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton found themselves plagued by penalties. After taking just one in the first, the team was assessed four in the second. While serving their second infraction, they received a major boost when Nate Chuckran broke loose to register his first goal since being traded to the Knights. He was assisted by Emerson Emery on Chuckran’s fifth tally of the season to pull Wilkes-Barre/Scranton within one.

The Jr. Rangers reclaimed their two-goal lead just over a minute later when Tyler Gardiner pushed a puck past Walker on the set up from Ryan Tierney and Jared Bernis. The Knights came back in the period’s final minute to trim the score to 4-3 when Alex Morawski found the net off of Chuckran’s assist. Unrelenting, Boston struck a final time before the period closed, when at 19:51, Ryan Tierney picked up his second point to rebuild the two-goal lead to end the second (Gardiner, Danny Dorabella).

In the third, the Knights penalty troubles continued, sapping their efforts to draw even. Both offenses found less success mounting chances on net, as Walker and Parker were tested for just 10 shots combined.

At the final horn, the Knights took a 5-3 loss.

SATURDAY:

Saturday brought with it another road game against a team from the EHL’s Boston Division. The Knights continued their Massachusetts trip with a showdown against the East Coast Wizards.

The Knights offense began on the right foot, when Jake Fuss threw a puck on net off a face-off win. The rebound off of Wizards netminder Korbinian Lutz’s pads found its way to the stick of Anthony Starzi. Starzi poked it home for the game’s first goal at 3:34. Emerson Emery followed with his second of the year, assisted by Alex Morawski just shy of the 7:00 mark, to put the Knights up 2-0.

In the second half of the period, the Knights penalty woes appeared to continue when they found themselves facing 1:27 of 5-on-3 shorthanded play at 13:38. The Wizards promptly took a penalty eight seconds later and another at 14:53. The see-saw swing in penalties eventually put the Knights on an abbreviated 5-on-3 followed by a similarly shortened period of 5-on-4. Through it all, neither team found the net, and the first ended with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up 2-0.

To begin the second period, the Wizards came out swinging with strong pressure off the forecheck. Thomas Walker turned away all East Coast offerings to keep the Knights up by two. East Coast’s aggressive attack turned against them as they took back-to-back penalties to give the Knights another 5-on-3. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton capitalized when Tyler Nielsen buried a power play offering on the two-man advantage to create a 3-0 lead at 5:21.

Following the expiration of the second penalty at 7:08, the Wizards took another penalty at 7:37. Their penalty kill took matters into their own hands when Michael Namon finished off a shorthanded 2-on-1 with a goal to put East Coast on the board (Devin Panzeca, Mike Bermingham).

Unable to find a goal on the remaining power play time, the tide turned against the Knights. In short succession they took a 5-minute major accompanied by a bench minor to create a long 5-on-3. Just 45 seconds into the disadvantage the Knights took another penalty for cross-checking to extend the 5-on-3 further.

After testing Walker unsuccessfully for an extended span, the Wizards finally broke through on the power play at 10:52 when Mike Bermingham found a rebound off a Josh Loveridge shot. East Coast pulled within one, but the Knights survived the rest of the 5-on-3. As David Pfoestl stepped out of the box to return his team to full-strength, the Knights found numbers on the rush. Anthony Starzi buried his second tally of the game off a feed from Rhett Padgett to regain the two-goal lead.

The Wizards refused to halt their comeback. At 17:37, Devin Panzeca’s bouncing shot found the twine, set up by Matt Fuller and Chase Davenport, again pulling East Coast within one. After the dust settled at the end of the frame, the Knights found themselves still ahead 4-3.

Beginning the third on carryover power play time, the Knights capitalized as Austin Weber picked up his first goal with the Knights with helpers coming from Fuss and Padgett at 1:30. Three minutes later Jake Fuss tacked on the Knights sixth goal of the evening to put his team in front 6-3.

Midway through the period, East Coast was assessed a five-minute major for high-sticking, giving the Knights time to add insurance. A good bounce off a David Pfoestl shot found Jake Fuss on an open post, where the Knights captain promptly notched his second goal of the game at 8:28.

Down 7-3, following their return to full-strength, the Wizards swapped Lutz for Alec Marshall. Marshall stayed steady as East Coast chipped at the Knights lead with an even-strength tally at 13:59 from Alec Deluca (Matt Gulack).

The 7-4 score would hold through to the end of the game, as the Knights earned their eighth win of the year. The team will enjoy Thanksgiving before heading off to Connecticut for a two-game road trip against the Rough Riders on November 25th and 26th. The games will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @WBSKnightsEHL on Twitter and visit www.wbsknights.com and www.easternhockeyleague.org for updates!