Slow start on the road proves too much to overcome
Stats, records, and prior meetings can’t strip away the relevancy of one of the oldest adages in sports: there’s a reason they play the game. Entering Friday night, the Knights were riding a four-game win streak against the Northeast Generals-a perfect 4-0 on the season-as well as a three-game winning streak overall. The Generals were still searching for their first franchise win at the NAHL level. When the puck dropped in Attleboro all such stats were rendered moot.
The Knights began the contest with a few forays into the offensive zone coupled with a few solid chances, but all were turned away by Generals netminder Gabe Vinal. Slowly as the period progressed, Northeast began to turn the tide. Their breakthrough occurred at 16:23, just 11 seconds into a powerplay, when captain Colin Bilek notched his third goal of the season against the Knights, giving his team the lead. With wind in their sails, Northeast skated well to close the period, limiting the Knights to 7 shots.
The carryover from the first frame was momentum for the Generals into the second. Spurred on by an excellent performance by Gabe Vinal, the Generals tacked on two more scores to build a 3-0 lead. The first came on an Anthony Mangano tally at 8:39. The Generals followed that up just over a minute later with Evan Somoza’s eighth goal of the year. Curtis Carlson would finally get the Knights on the board putting home a back-door offering past Vinal on a feed from Reed Robinson at 11:56.
The third period would begin with the Knights having recaptured momentum following a late-second period increase in chances that would ultimately be turned away by Vinal. The Knights pressure would eventually produce, when Jimmy Elser cut the deficit to one, netting a goal at 6:28. Aided by two Northeast penalties, the Knights wound continue to mount pressure for the duration of third. Vinal stood tall throughout, including when facing the Knights extra attacker for just over the game’s final 1:30 of play. He stopped 18 of 19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton chances in the period and 38 of 40 for the game, on the way to securing his team’s first ever victory in the NAHL.
All totaled, the Knights went 0-5 on the powerplay and allowed one goal on three penalty kills for the evening proving that no matter the opponent, the room for error is small. Lost in the defeat was the return of first-round draft pick Matt Kidney from Cedar Rapids. Though he did not register a point, the talented forward will be a welcomed return for the Knights forecheck. Kidney had lead the NAHL in points with nine goals and 12 assists in 19 games at the time of his departure.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to get back on track when they again take on the Generals tonight at 5:30 pm and again tomorrow at 4:30 pm.