The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights hockey program was formed in 2007 to build a stronger youth hockey presence in Northeast Pennsylvania. Upon the team’s formation, the Knights program quickly became a new arena for young, local athletes to develop their skills and compete at the highest levels of competition within the USA Hockey format. At the time of the program’s inception, local interest in ice hockey was on the rise; primarily due to the newly formed American Hockey League (AHL) franchise that was located in Wilkes-Barre in 1999. Exposure to professional hockey in the region and steady growth in youth, scholastic and recreational sectors of athletics provided the perfect platform on which the Knights program could begin to grow.
From day one, the Knights program developed the mission to field and cultivate teams to compete at a high level against USA Hockey Tier 1 teams throughout the US and Canada. In 2009 the Knights reached this goal, when its youth teams achieved Tier 1 status. This new status challenged the organization to provide worthwhile opportunities for its players that would encourage them to remain in Northeast Pennsylvania to continue their hockey careers within the program.
In 2010, the Knights obtained their first junior hockey franchises fielding teams in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AJHL) and the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MJHL). Both leagues were recognized as USA Hockey Tier III Junior Hockey Leagues. Both the AJHL and the MJHL provide competitive opportunities to teams in neighboring Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Although junior hockey was relatively new to Northeast Pennsylvania in 2010, many players from the area were drawn to a new local option, as they had experienced playing in AJHL/MJHL franchises in the past in nearby Binghamton (NY), Philadelphia and New Jersey. The successful implementation of these two franchises within the Knights organization offered players from Northeast PA, the United States and the world a new alternative to obtain a high level of training and greater exposure to college and professional scouts.
In the spring of 2013, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, in their third season, won the AJHL Championship. This win was a huge stepping stone for the organization, as it reinforced the programs mission and commitment to the development of athletes within highly competitive franchises. The teams in the youth program were also excelling in league competitions and receiving national recognition for their efforts. However, the success of the program soon began to show beyond wins or losses. Since 2007, many Knights players have committed to NCAA Division I & III colleges, have been drafted to US/Canadian Major Junior teams, and have been drafted into the National Hockey League (NHL).
On May 1, 2015 the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights took the next step in purchasing a franchise in a newly created division of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The NAHL is recognized as the only Tier II Junior Hockey League in the country by USA Hockey. This season the Knights will once again be starting from scratch, as it works to find its new place in the NAHL. The related youth hockey program also entered into the affiliated North American Premier Hockey League (NAPHL), in addition to competing in Youth Tier I Hockey in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League (AYHL). The growing success of the Knights organization can be attributed to its dedicated owner, staff and volunteers that have supported the growth of the club from the beginning.
In 2018, the Knights’ organization enjoyed its’ best season to date, reaching 30 wins in the regular season and earning 66 points in the standings to clinch a playoff berth for the third consecutive season. The team not only made the playoffs, but also won its’ first playoff series, dispatching of the New Jersey Titans in a best-of-five that went the distance. The following round, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton swept the Philadelphia Rebels, thus clinching the 2018 NAHL East Division and subsequently earning the opportunity to compete in the Robertson Cup Finals.
The 2018-19 season saw the Knights’ organization reach 100 wins in the North American Hockey League. On February 22nd, the club beat the New Jersey Titans, 5-3 in order to earn win number 100. The team’s Eastern Hockey League affiliate also enjoyed great success, reaching the EHL Frozen Finals for the first time in franchise history.
In April of 2019, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights announced a new Tier III affiliation with the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).