A three-game series between the East Division’s third and fourth placed teams kicked off Friday, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and the Northeast Generals met for their final series in the regular season.
Friday’s first period saw good chances for both sides. Starting goalies Christian Stoever and David Fessenden stood down each sides’ offerings in goal for much of the opening frame, as each attack searched for its stride.
Not long after the Generals killed the game’s first power play, their rested scorers recorded the game’s first tally. Off a failed exit pass from the Knights zone, the Generals hopped in to create a 3-on-2 entry. Colin found Colin as Bilek threaded a slick pass to McCabe, as the latter buried his third tally of the season for the 1-0 lead.
A second Knights power play was negated by steady work from the Generals killers and Fessenden’s steady play in net. At the end of 20:00, the hometown Generals held the early lead.
After a first period slightly carried by the Knights, thanks in part to two power plays, Northeast countered with a strong second period. It was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s turn to visit the box, taking three trips in the period. The first negated the Knights third power play, leading to an extended stretch of 4-on-4. The second infraction proved mostly costly. Just past the 14:00 marker, it was Bilek’s turn to be gifted a strong assist. Louis Boudon found Matt Wiesner, who fed his captain on the power play goal.
Down 2-0 entering the third, the Knights bounced back. After killing an early power play, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tilted the ice to open the first half of the frame. Their efforts, though met continually by strong play from Fessenden, finally paid off at 7:42. From the right wing corner in the offensive zone, Kidney fed Joey Verkerke at the top of the zone. The latter fired a puck at Fessenden, who was screened by Mike Morrissey, leaving a bouncing puck to find Kidney again, who flipped a nifty back-handed shot to get the Knights on the board.
The Knights control of play continued through much of the period, with the only breaks in action coming off masterful saves from Stoever-who stoned Bilek on a breakaway-and Fessenden, who robbed Jake Fuss on a one-timer from in close.
The period wound its way down to the final minutes with the Generals leading 2-1. After being out-shot 14-3 in the middle period, the Knights responded in kind, blasting the Generals with an 18-5 advantage. Still, Fessenden stood tall. With just under a minute to play, the Knights traded Stoever for an extra attacker. Less than 30 seconds later, Colin Bilek cleared a puck down the ice, with the back-handed effort finding the yawning Knights net.
The game would conclude with the Generals taking game one by a score of 3-1. Their victory brings them back within two points (58 to 56) of the Knights in third place in the East. The pair will meet again tomorrow night at 5:00 PM EST. Tune in on hockeytv.com!