Knights Finish Showcase with Shootout Thriller

Kidney, Morrissey, Goaltending the way as the Knights leave Minnesota with three more victories.

The Knights final showdown in Blaine saw an 9:30 am start against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. For the Knights, the game was their sixth in nine days. Goalies Dave Tomeo and Chad Veltri exchanged saves in a scoreless opening period that saw both teams struggle to consistently attack from the middle of the ice.

The following period saw more of the same, until Matt Novo fired a puck past Tomeo (Moncovich, Osmundson) to put the Ice Rays on the board. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was given a break when it appeared that Corpus Christi scored a third goal not long after Novo’s score, but the officials deemed that the net came its moorings prior to the puck crossing the goal line. In response, the Knights mounted shots but couldn’t solve Veltri until 16:55, when Thomas Farrell found a streaking Matt Kidney behind the defense, and the forward potted the breakaway equalizer.

The gridlock returned for the first 10 minutes of the third, but the Knights took their first two penalties of the game to aid the Ice Rays offensive presence. They were finally rewarded at 10:21, when on a power play, Angus Scott flipped a slick backhand shot to beat Tomeo and regain the lead.

Following the score, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pushed their way back into the attacking zone but still found issue in finding the spaces around Veltri. With time winding down in the final minutes, tensions flared on a pile up in front of Tomeo. In the ensuing scrum, Tomeo removed his helmet and was assessed a game misconduct. The remaining penalties created 4-on-4 hockey for the rest of the third, but the Knights were forced to put Christian Stoever in off the bench with just over a minute left in regulation.

Stoever’s stay was brief as the Knights quickly pulled him in favor of the extra attacker. All appeared lost as a turnover near the Knights net looked all-but destined to result in a Corpus Christi empty-net tally. Instead, Matt Kidney made a last-second stick lift and pulled the puck back to his possession. His exit pass started a rush back to Corpus Christi’s end of the ice where Curtis Carlson rang a shot off the post. In the ensuing tangle for possession, Mike Morrissey planted the game-tying goal past Veltri with 46 seconds left on the clock.

Headed for overtime, the Knights were called for tripping with just two seconds left in the third, giving Corpus Christi the 4-on-3 for an extended period in the extra time. The Knights, led by Stoever’s excellent work in net, were able to kill the penalty and rob the Ice Rays of several grade-A chances. Once play returned to 3-on-3, Veltri stood tall to turn away a handful of quality Knights chances to force a shootout.

In the best-of-three shootout Stoever stopped the first two shots for the Knights, while Veltri fended off Olmstead. In the Knights second attempt, Matt Kidney ripped a shot top shelf to gain the lead. On Corpus Christi’s last chance, Stoever went all the way to the ice and stonewalled Matt Novo to lock down the win.

The Knights move to 5-1 on the year, finishing 3-1 in Blaine. They are now 1-0 in games settled by both overtime and shootout. Dave Tomeo was stellar in 58:51 before his removal. Stoever was a perfect 4-4 in relief and then 3-3 in the shootout. They are currently tied for first place in the NAHL East division with 10 points. The two goalies have combined for a  .932 save percentage through six games. They’re next game will come at home against the Philadelphia Rebels on October 6th at the Class of 1923 Arena at 7:10 pm.