Despite a strong showing by netminder Grant Valentine, the Knights dropped their fifth straight matchup with the Aston Rebels Friday. The most recent recipient of the East Division Star of the Week stopped 29 of 31 shots (.935) in a losing effort, but continued his strong play.
In each of his last four games, Valentine has registered save percentages north of 90 percent. This was the first loss in that stretch.
The early going was typical of a Knights and Rebels matchup this season. The first twenty minutes were defined by a lot of zone exchanges and not too much established possession. For the Knights it was their best shots tilt of the contest, as they won the battle 9-5 but could not solve goalie Mareks Mitens.
The second period would see an increase in shot volume but the Knights luck would stay the same. It was Aston who would break the scoreless streak in the second during four on four play.
Set up on a Knights turnover in their own end, Evgeny Yakovlev would skate the puck under the goal line before flicking it out in front to a waiting Dustin Manz. Manz, unchecked would fire one past Valentine to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead at the 9:29 mark in the period.
A recurrent theme throughout the contest were self-inflicted wounds. Twice on the man advantage, the Knights cut their time on the powerplay short with penalties. It was one such occurrence that resulted in the Manz goal.
Down one heading into the third period, the Knights would try to turn around what had been a rocky frame in previous matchups with Aston. But on this night the drum beat would continue for the Rebels as in typical fashion they would close the game with a strong third period.
The Knights would muster just three shots on goal to Aston’s 12. Andrew Bellant would add insurance for the Rebels at the 6:01 mark on a quick power play cycle and shot that barely maneuvered on and past Valentine’s pads.
The score would remain the same for the rest of regulation, as Mitens fended off the last of the Knights efforts on his way to his fifth-straight shut out and the Rebels fifth-straight win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The pair will renew acquaintances Saturday night at 7 pm in Aston.