The Knights took to the road on a frigid December evening, looking to warm up their season series against the Aston Rebels. After having been shut out twice and beaten three prior times at the Ice Works arena, the Knights looked to have taken a half-step in the right direction after a dramatic 5-3 loss last Friday.
As they had seven times prior, the Knights would again face the NAHL’s best goaltender in Mareks Mitens. The Latvian netminder will soon depart to represent his country in the World Junior Classic in Montreal. He showed why again on Friday.
Things began with a quick Aston strike when Jensen Zerban muscled his way through three Knights skaters in the offensive zone just three minutes into the first. Pulling the puck loose off the half-wall, the forward then cut to the net and ripped the rubber through the pads of Grant Valentine.
The first would see both teams fail to find the net on multiple powerplay opportunities. The Knights would serve one with six seconds left in the first, in a penalty that would carry over into the second stanza. The score after 20 minutes of play would hold at 1-0.
The second began with Aston taking a penalty 39 seconds into the period, for the first of three self-shortened penalties on the evening for the Rebels. The penalty kill would be the strongest element to the Knights performance, as they would ultimately go 7-for-7.
The second would take a decided Aston first at 6:07 when Gvido Jansons followed up a shot from Zerban and tapped it back for the rebound goal. On the very next shift, two Knights collided opening space for an Aaron Maguyon one-timer that would beat Valentine to the near post.
Through a muddle of penalties on both sides, the Rebels would tack on yet another score at 19:26 when on a 3-on-1, Andrew Bellant would rip a puck past Valentine for the Rebels 4-0 lead.
Heading into the third, the Knights would need a furious rally to surmount the deficit, but thanks to Mitens it never came. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton generated a few grade-a looks, but each was ultimately turned away. A late double-minor would keep the Knights short-handed for too long to sustain any offensive momentum, and despite Aston taking a late 5-minute major, time would run out.
The Rebels improved to 23-4-1 on the year and 8-1 head to head with the Knights. The Knights fell to 12-17-1-1, and 1-8 against Aston. Mitens picked up his 8th shutout of the season, stopping all 19 shots he faced.The Knights will have another meeting with the Rebels Saturday night at 7:30 pm at the Revolution Ice Centre. Fans are invited to take part in ugly sweater night, and wear their most festive threads to the rink.
Fans please be advised that the stretch of route 315 by the I-81 bridge will be closed until Monday. Please use an alternate to get to the arena.