In the rubber match of the three-game series between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Northeast Generals, things promised to be exciting as the teams had each picked a win, and had scored nine goals each, through games one and two.
In contrast with the prior 48 hours, the game began in tight fashion, with both teams engaged in a transition game battle, but both failed to settle down into a consistent offensive rhythm. Through a scoreless first, both goalies-David Tomeo for the Knights, and Marko Sturma for the Generals-traded solid saves, while both power plays were held scoreless (Knights 0-1, Generals 0-3).
The second period picked up in pace, but the scoreless streak continued until Mike Morrissey drove hard to the net at 7:05 and put home a rebound generated by Tom Farrell and Reed Robinson. The Knights pressure following the score, would be continually denied by spectacular work in net by Sturma for the remainder of the period.
The Knights in turn, weathered the Northeast storm on the forecheck and power play, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton penalties continued to mount. The penalty kill remained perfect and Tomeo held strong until 15:30, when Louis Boudon received a Luke Perunovich drop pass, which he fired past Tomeo to tie the game at one. With 21 seconds remaining in the period, Colin Bilek found a loose puck to the left of Tomeo and flipped it through a host of bodies to take the 2-1 lead (Perunovich).
The third period brought with it an exchange of all-out offensive hockey. The Knights tied the game when Curtis Carlson scored on the power play at 3:26 (R. Robinson, Kidney). Hunter Canestra came back after an unsuccessful Generals man-advantage and scored even-strength off assists from Justin Kelley and Shawn Montgomery. Shortly thereafter, Tomeo was lifted following his second penalty of the contest, bringing in Christian Stoever off the bench.
After the Knights killed off the penalty, Mike Morrissey picked up his second goal of the game, put home off a rebound to tie the contest at three at 9:52. The goal was set up by Luke Robinson and Reed Robinson on the helpers. Knights nemesis Louis Boudon answered quickly as he buried his second tally of the game at 11:16, assisted by Bilek and Anthony Quatieri to again put the Generals ahead by one.
The Knights continued to be sent to the box, as they’d face two more penalties, staving off both, to go a perfect 9-9 on the afternoon on the kill, making them 14-14 in their last two games. Top it off, on the first of the two infractions, the Knights scored their third short-handed goal of the weekend when Tom Farrell crashed the net and flipped a puck past Sturma, assisted by Danchenko and Jack Olmstead.
Despite the offensive success shorthanded, the continued march to the box robbed the Knights of quality five-on-five time, forcing them to chase for much of the third period. Despite this, Adrian Danchenko found the go-ahead goal at 17:35 off assists from Reed Robinson and Gabe Temple. The 5-4 lead looked to be locked down, as the Generals were forced to pull their goalie with under a minute to go.
With 17.6 seconds left, the Knights called a timeout with a faceoff coming in their own zone. When play resumed, the Generals executed a perfect play to set up Boudon in the slot. The French forward notched the game-tying goal and the hat trick with just 12.6 seconds left in regulation.
Into overtime, the abundance of offensive chances continued. The Knights best opportunity came when Matt Kidney walked in on Sturma who was pulled out of position off an initial save. Somehow, the Slovakian net-minder made a lunging stick save from the opposite post to rob Kidney the of game-winning score. Back down the other way came Matt Demelis, and with a nifty move, he bested Stoever for the game-winning tally.
The tough loss for the Knights did come with the silver lining of one point in overtime, exceptional penalty killing, shorthanded scoring, and strong contributions from its offense. That in mind, the team will try to bounce back next week when they host the Johnstown Tomahawks for a home-home series on Friday and Saturday. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media through the week for updates on all Knights news!