The lone game in the East division on Friday the 13th fittingly featured its first and third place teams squaring off for the first of a three-game series. The Knights, coming off an overtime defeat against Philly, looked to rebound against the red-hot Generals, who entered the contest with a league-leading 10 wins.
Northeast jumped out to a fast start, as Justin Jallen notched a goal just 2:13 into the contest on a quick zone entry, set up by Joseph Mancuso and Ryan Bogan. Gaining their legs shortly thereafter, the Knights forecheck drew a penalty and went to the power play at 7:44. Just over a minute in, a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton turnover along the Northeast blue line resulted in a contested breakaway for Generals forward Alex Cohen. Cohen fought free and buried a shorthanded goal past goalie Christian Stoever at 8:57 to give Northeast a 2-0 lead.
The Knights picked up the pressure after the error, driving pucks deep into the attacking zone, and controlling time of possession. They were rewarded at 13:10, when Adrian Danchenko tipped home a Reed Robinson shot, set up by Michael Morrissey to halve the Generals lead. Floored, the Knights continued their heavy pressure in the attacking zone, but were continually turned away by Northeast goaltender Marko Sturma, in what would turn out to be a busy night for the Slovakian netminder.
Following a Knights too-many-men penalty late in the period, the Generals converted their first power play goal of the game, scored by Mike Egan at 19:39 (Matt Wiesner, Colin Bilek). Before the period could end, the Knights were penalized with a five-minute boarding major to end the frame.
Though the Knights dominated the first 3:30 of the 5 minutes of Generals power play to open the second, Sturma continued his strong play in net, denying a bevy of shorthanded chances. His steadiness, combined with the Generals persistence resulted in a power play goal with just over 1:30 remaining on the man-advantage. The tally was registered by Louis Boudon, who was assisted by Anthony Quatieri and Justin Jallen to create a 4-1 Northeast lead.
Jack Olmstead would lead the Knights back at 6:24, when Josh Fricks, off the initial pass from Luke Robinson, found Olmstead on a beautiful pass behind the defense. Olmstead moved in on Sturma alone before flicking a puck to the twine to trim the deficit to 4-2. The Knights would again dominate time on the attack, and Blake Kryska even appeared to pull Wilkes-Barre/Scranton within one midway through the period, only to be robbed on a spectacular save by Sturma. Another late-period goal from Shawn Montgomery (Canestra, Colin McCabe), coupled with another Knights penalty to close the period would put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton behind the 8-ball heading into the third.
Facing 1:30 of power play carryover to begin the final frame, the Knights penalty kill came out of the dressing room swinging. Just prior to the 1:00 mark, Curtis Carlson flashed his trademark speed, going end-to-end to before besting Sturma for a short-handed goal. Down 5-3 and again picking up steam on the attack, the Knights clawed back to within one when Jack Olmstead found the net for the second time, created by a Gabe Temple cross-ice feed to a Paul Luebke point shot that Olmstead pushed home.
With just under half a period to play, the Knights fought hard to tie the game, but Sturma remained steady, keeping his team’s one-goal lead. In the final minutes, the Generals pushed back, forcing Christian Stoever to make a few tough saves, and delaying the Knights comeback effort. With the net emptied at 18:48, the Knights saw a face off deflection roll it’s way down the ice and into their net for the Generals game-clinching score. The tally was credited to Louis Boudon as the 2016-17 NA3HL MVP picked up his second score of the night.
The Knights will look to bounce back tonight at 7:30 pm EDT when they’ll rematch with the Generals at the Revolution Ice Centre. Tickets are $5 at the door. Follow Knights social media on Facebook (WBS Knights Hockey), Twitter, and Instagram (@wbsknights) for updates!