Knights Split Weekend with Rebels and Generals

The Knights picked up after a short rest from a Tuesday win against the Rebels with a rematch on Friday.

Things got off to a quick start with newly acquired Khrisitan Acosta potting his first career goal just 1:20 into his NAHL career with a deflection that beat Aston netminder Jack Leavy.

The Rebels would respond midway through the period when Ryan Solomon’s point shot found it’s way through traffic and around Colt Hanks to knot the game at one at the 11:16 mark.

Not even a minute later, Ryan Patrick deflected another blue-line shot past Hanks to give the Rebels their first lead of the night.

Joseph Campolieto would answer emphatically when he collected a rebound to the left of Leavy with a perfect snipe that scorched over the 6-5 goalie’s glove shoulder to tuck neatly under the iron elbow at 16:36.

The Knights took it upon themselves to add more style points to the highlight reel in the period’s final minute when Paul Maust and Curtis Carlson executed and perfect give-and-go around Aston’s back-checking effort to give the lead back to the Knights to close out the first.

Instead of folding, the Rebels rebounded with a stellar second period, matching a skilled Knights forecheck shot-for-shot. The Aston forwards bookended the period with a goal in first 5:44 from Dustin Manz and another final three minutes from Evgeny Yakovlev, giving the Rebels a 4-3 advantage heading back to the dressing room.

In the 3rd, the visitors kept the pedal to the medal, answering with two insurance goals. The first came at 9:24 when Aston captain Dom Garcia beat Hanks. The second took a series of awkward bounces before Gianluca Esteves’ tap found pipe then twine.

With a 6-3 lead holding late into the 3rd and the Knights in the midst of a 38 minutes scoring drought, it appeared that the Rebels would seal the deal without too much resistance. Then, with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Sam Antonitsch spun loose in front of Leavy to bring his team within two.

The Knights game storming back, as on the very next shift Curtis Carlson ripped a rebound past the stick of Leavy to bring the game to 6-5 just 12 seconds later.

With an empty net in the final minute, the Knights dodged Andrew Bellant’s first bullet when he rang a puck off both posts, but Bellant would not miss a second time as he sealed the Aston win when he threw a puck out of his own zone into the vacant frame at 19:33.

The Knights had no time to dwell on the loss however as the very next night they welcomed 2016’s new kid on the block in the Northeast Generals. The Generals and the Shreveport Mudbugs are the NAHL’s two new team’s this season, a process the Knights went through less than a year ago.

As such, the Knights knew the danger of facing an 0-8 team. They won their first game in the NAHL in their ninth contest in 2015-16. Tom Kowal made a point of addressing the issue to his team throughout the week of practice.

His team got the memo. From the opening puck drop, the Knights dominated possession. The Generals did themselves no favors, taking four non-coincidental penalties in the first period, spending nearly half the opening stanza short handed. The Knights didn’t cash in on any of their advantages, thanks in large part to the stellar play of Northeast netminder and new NHL Central Scouting Watch List member Gabe Vinal. The East Syracuse native made seral lunging saves to rob the Knights on seemingly easy tap-ins.

Still, the Knights persisted and finally were rewarded when Jesse Anderson crashed the net-literally-and buried a puck past a sprawling Vinal to give the Knights a 1-0 lead at 18:04.

The Knights would revisit the twine again when, for the third consecutive game, Sam Antonitsch scored from the slot.  The home team took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The second period was a better stanza for the Generals as they mounted a more furious forecheck, aided by their being short-handed just once. They outshot the Knights 13-9 in the period but could not solve Colt Hanks. An effective haymaker was landed when, on the penalty kill, Reed Robinson shot up the left wing and flicked a puck from the far corner of the offensive zone toward the talented Vinal. The puck took an awkward hop that bounced over Vinal’s skate and in for Robinson’s first NAHL goal, giving the Knights a 3-0 lead that would hold for the rest of the period.

In the third, the  Knights re-established more control in the offensive zone, and despite both team’s taking a fair amount of penalties, the Knights maintained their focus and finish.

2:13 into the period, deep in his own zone, Matt Kidney threaded a perfect pass to a streaking Paul Maust for the breakaway goal.

Despite losing two players to misconduct penalties and another to bumps and bruises, the Knights pressed on. Mike Gelatt potted his second tally of the season at 11:22 from out in front and the defense did their part to uphold the shutout for Colt Hanks. It marked the rookie goalie’s third win of the season and his first NAHL shutout.

The Knights improved to 5-6 after going 2-1 in the 3-game week, collecting four points while maintaining their position in 4th place in the division. They’ll return to action at home again this Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th, with both games coming against the Aston Rebels.

Numbers to Know:

-The Knights have scored five goals in three consecutive games

-The WBS PP went 1-10, but the penalty kill went 6-7 and scored a shorthanded goal.

-The Knights have won 3 of their last 4 games.

Scoring Standouts this Week:

-Matt Kidney had 0-5-5 in 3 gp

-Paul Maust had 2-2-4 in 3 gp

-Curtis Carlson had 2-2-4 in 3 gp

-Joseph Campolieto had 1-3-4 in 3 gp

-Sam Antonitsch had a 3-0-3 in 3 gp