New Jersey swept a home-and-home weekend against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The Knights played host in a 5-4 loss Friday, then took a 5-3 defeat Saturday night in New Jersey.
Jake Fuss ended a 17 game goal drought last weekend in Johnstown. Since then, Fuss has scored four goals in three games, including his trio on the weekend against the Titans.
Two goals came in the 5-4 loss to New Jersey Friday at Revolution Ice Centre. After Cam Gendron scored early for New Jersey, Fuss found his way toward the net of Brandon Perrone, beating him low for the tying goal in the first. Kyle Jeffers would begin the Titans takeover, scoring on Samuel Vyletelka with five seconds to play in the opening period to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead. From there, the Titans would add to their total in the second, grabbing a commanding 4-1 lead. Down by three, the Knights battled back with a one-two punch to get within striking distance.
At the 13:11 mark of period two, Beck Moore found his second goal of the season and first since early November to get Wilkes-Barre back on the board. 44 seconds later it was Jake Fuss on a tip-in for his second of the game to make it 4-3. The shot Fuss tipped came from Matt Passaretti; a defenseman playing in his first NAHL game, thus earning his first point in the league of opportunity. Alongside him was defender Caden Lewandowski in his second NAHL game, as both were called up to play both games on the weekend in place of defensemen Shay Donovan and Blake Kryska, who are dealing with injuries.
Despite having momentum on their side, a bad break the other way allowed New Jersey’s Mitch Machlitt to score the game winner beating Vyltelka to make it 5-3. Zak Currie scored for the Knights in the third, but New Jersey shut it down from there.
On Saturday, the Knights never played further than one goal down from New Jersey and stayed close throughout. It wasn’t until less than five minutes remained that New Jersey took over for good.
Like Friday, another last minute goal would occur in the first, but this time it was the Knights who buried it. After Anthony Mastromonica had just been sent to the penalty box, the Titans had a shot go off of Lincoln Hatten in his defensive end. Hatten would toss it ahead to Adrian Danchenko for a shorthanded breakaway goal past Brandon Perrone. It was Danchenko’s eighth goal of the season and his second shorty of the year.
New Jersey struck twice midway through the second to go up, 2-1, but Jake Fuss’ third goal of the weekend came late in the second to tie the game. With Just over two minutes to play, Mastromonica threw a big hit in center, then rushed in the zone to get a shot off. In shades of last week in Johnstown, it was Fuss picking up a rebound from a Mastromonica shot, scoring his sixth goal of the season.
In the third, it was Gavin Gulash playing the lead villain to the Knights team. After he scored under six minutes in to give New Jersey the lead once more, Knights blue liner Evan Orr would respond to make it 3-3 with a sharp angle shot from the goal line. Then, with less than five minutes to play, Gulash grabbed a puck in center for a two-on-one and proceeded to shoot past Knights goalie Zach Stejskal for what eventually served as the dagger for this game. Bryce Witman would score an empty netter in the last minute to make the final 5-3.
Samuel Vyletelka made 27 saves Friday, while Stejskal stopped 40 the next night. Wilkes-Barre stayed close all weekend in the shots on goal category; something they’ve struggled to do throughout the season. The final shot totals through the two games read 77-76 in favor of New Jersey.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sits 13-22-4. Their three game point streak came to a close. At 2-3-3, Wilkes-Barre will have a chance to finish January with a .500 record when they close out January Thursday in Northeast, beginning a two game set with the Generals.