Photo credit: Steve Yakimowicz
After a week in Minnesota for the NAHL Showcase, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights returned home to end the month with a pair of wins over the newly formed Maryland Black Bears. The Knights took a 2-1 decision Friday, followed by a 3-2 overtime thriller Saturday evening.
Tyrone Bronte and Zach Stejskal were huge components to Wilkes-Barre’s success. Bronte, a forward committed to Bemidji State, scored three goals on the weekend, including a top shelf wrist shot scored just 34 seconds in on Friday over Black Bears’ goalie and former Knights’ keeper David Tomeo.
The score stayed 1-0 until the 11:26 mark in the third. Defenseman Shay Donovan drove the net hard, leaving a loose puck for Anthony Starzi who found the back of the net before it was dislodged. Maryland asked for help from the officials to wave the goal off, claiming the net came off before the puck had crossed the line, but the decision was final and the Knights led by two.
Zach Stejskal was sensational in net for the grey and blue, turning aside 39 shots. The Grand Rapids, Minnesota native was perfect until the dying seconds of the game, when Maryland’s Asger Peterson was parked in the slot during a six on four advantage to beat Stejskal with 26 seconds to spare.
On Saturday, the Knights fell victim to allowing the first goal, but found their answer from Bronte, who again bested his former goaltender Tomeo, deflecting a point shot from blueliner Evan Orr to tie the game. Just two minutes after Bronte’s tally, Gabe Temple shot from the left just inside the circle that went top shelf for the Knights to take the lead. Orr was credited on an assist for both goals.
After a last minute goal in the second from Maryland’s Joseph Mancuso, things remained deadlocked after 60 minutes of play.
In overtime, both teams jockeyed for possession with limited chances on either side. Finally, with under half a minute to play in the three-on-three session, Adrian Danchenko created a turnover in his defensive end. While rushing up the ice, a Maryland player fell, giving Danchenko room to break free and find Bronte crashing the net for a pass that led to Bronte burying it to give the Knights four points on the weekend.
While Bronte scored three times on the weekend, goalie Stejskal started both contests, stopping a stupendous 87 shots.
“We had several players contribute to the teams’ first two wins of the season,” said Head Coach Tom Kowal. “Tyrone Bronte made his name known in his first two games back in the line-up. I thought the team improved our play a lot in the defensive zone, with an outstanding performance from goaltender Zach Stejskal in both games. You always have a chance to win when your goaltender performs the way Zach did this weekend.”
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights improve to 2-3-1 on the young 18-19 season, and will start the October slate of games Friday night against the visiting New Jersey Titans. The game is the first half of a home-and-home with the Titans, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton travels to them Saturday for a rematch.