Photo Credit: NAHL.com
Knights Second-Round Pick Leads the Charge on Day Three of Showcase
Round three of the Knights Blaine road trip had them meet the Minnesota Wilderness at the Schwan Super Rink 4. With both teams coming off a loss, urgency was to be expected in the game’s opening minutes.
Following puck drop, both sides began a see-saw battle of possession, seeing each forecheck trade offensive zones, a theme that would prove prevalent throughout the game. The Wilderness were first to strike off Blake Bride’s 2nd goal of the season, assisted by Andrew Troy and Eric Gotz at 3:58.
Tyrone Bronte responded 45 seconds later, tying the game for the Knights with a shot in close, created by crisp passing from Adrian Danchenko and Jack Olmstead. Olmstead’s assist extended his point streak to four games.
Eric Gotz wouldn’t let the tie live out the period. The Minnesota defenseman took advantage of a power play and ripped a point shot through traffic, besting Knights goalie Christian Stoever for the 2-1 Wilderness lead at 15:48.
The second frame saw an increase in Minnesota’s forechecking pressure. Their attack successfully set up in the Knights zone on numerous occasions, finally breaking through at 12:41 when Gino Lucia hammered a puck to twine on an assist from Gotz. Though the Knights were able to outshoot the Wilderness by one in the period, they were consistently flustered by Ryan Fanti’s solid goaltending.
Finally, at 16:27 the Knights answered to cut the lead to one. After Paul Cimilluca advanced the puck down low to Justin Engelkes, the rookie fought through multiple bodies under the end line to find Matt Kidney alone in the slot. The Knights veteran ripped home the team’s second goal, serving as a crucial boost to their momentum.
Down by one entering the third, the Knights elevated their execution on the attack. After struggling through their first two power play opportunities of the afternoon, Wilkes-Barrre/Scranton cashed in when Lincoln Hatten slammed a puck by Fanti for the tying goal at 8:53 (Olmstead, Kryska).
Minnesota wouldn’t take kindly to losing their lead. They forced two Knights penalties in the following three minutes, and were able to generate a handful of quality chances on net. Christian Stoever answered each and the penalty kill stood strong in their final two deployments of the day.
As the clock wound down, Justin Engelkes turned up ice. With under five minutes to play, the Verona, Wisconsin native’s acceleration carried him through neutral ice. Just as he gained the blue line, he let go a snipe that found its way past multiple defenders and Fanti for the go-ahead goal, Engelkes’ first in the NAHL.
The Knights defense would grind down the clock to the final minute when Minnesota pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The Wilderness again mounted quality chances, but none that beat Stoever, as the rookie goaltender made a fine kick save in the game’s final seconds to close out the win.
The Knights will complete their NAHL showcase with a 10:30 AM EDT meeting with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays tomorrow morning. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @wbsknights on twitter for live updates.