Saturday’s meeting of the Knights and Applecore brought with it plenty of EHL playoffs implications. After each team lost their first contest of the week, the onus was placed on this weekend’s two-game series to influence the 4th and 5th seeding in the South conference.
After a stint in the NAHL with the Philadelphia Rebels, Anthony Starzi returned to the Knights Saturday. Also back was Nate Chuckran, returning after serving a one-game suspension for butt-ending.
The offense, rolling since mid-December, saw early benefits from Starzi’s return when the lightning-fast forward collected his own rebound and fired it past Applecore’s netminder Mark Siegel 17:26 into the first period (Jake Fuss, Emerson Emery).
Riding the momentum into the middle period, Jake Fuss kicked off a dominant stanza for the Knights with a milestone. Just prior to the 3:43 marker, Bryan Whelan and Tyler Nielsen pushed a puck to the net front, where through a scrum, Fuss willed the puck over the goal line. The score marked his 100th goal with the Knights program, a monumental achievement for one of the organization’s hardest-working players.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would go on to control a good portion of the period, taking 12 shots and generating their fair share of high-quality chances. Tyler Nielsen would add his 13th goal of the season at 8:39, set up by Cody Rumsey and Tyler Watungwa, building a 3-0 lead.
Matthew Boring snapped the Knights momentum at 15:20, when the Kings Park, NY native powered his 18th goal by Knights starter Thomas Walker (Connor Woolley, Chaz Rometty).
The pendulum swung swiftly to Applecore’s attack, as New York came out in the third with a blistering pace. Brendan Conway and Mark Revniaga would set up Brandon Napoli to cut the lead to one just prior to the 2:00 mark of the period.
Applecore would draw even with their third-straight goal at 6:26, when Brett Reed fed Tanner Dalton on a successful 2-on-1. Brandon Napoli picked up the secondary assist on the score.
The Knights responded at 12:51 when Denys Arkhypenko generated a healthy rebound in front of Siegel that was buried by Emerson Emery for his third goal of the year.
Starzi set up Bryan Whelan less than 30 seconds later to build the Knights a two-goal lead. The Applecore didn’t blink, as Boring picked up his second goal of the night, set up by Logan Scarlotta and Ben Freatman just over a minute later.
New York pushed hard on the Knights backcheck and Thomas Walker in the final minutes including over thirty seconds with the reinforcement of an extra attacker. Walker stood on his head to seal the contest for the Knights, who skated away with the 5-4 win. The victory puts them just one point behind Applecore for fourth place in the conference.
The pair will meet again tomorrow for the finale of the two-game series at 9:30 am EST! Tune in at HockeyTV.com or follow @WBSKnightsEHL and easternhockeyleague.org for in-game updates!