Knights Suffer Heartbreaking Loss to Tomahawks

After two periods of play, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights were within reach of snapping their losing streak as they led by two goals.

Then the third period happened.

Johnstown scored three unanswered in the final frame of regulation and beat the Knights, 5-4 at Revolution Ice Centre Friday night.

It’s the third game in a row the Tomahawks have scored a trio of goals in the final period. Johnstown has now won seven straight. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has dropped seven in a row.

A strong first period featuring back and forth action favored the Knights, beginning with Gabe Temple breaking out of a scoring slump for his seventh goal of the season on the power play. Temple’s goal was his first in six games.

Johnstown would answer over two minutes later with Roman Kraemer sprung forward on a breakaway. Kraemer tucked it through the legs of Knights’ starter Samuel Vyletelka to tie the game.

Earlier in the period, Bennett Stockdale was credited a penalty shot on a Davis Pennington slashing call, but Vyletelka stood tall to make the save.

Beck Moore scored his first North American Hockey League goal late in the first on Tomahawks’ net minder Cooper Lukenda. The goal comes just one day after Moore was the physical spark plug for his team, knocking in half a dozen hits Thursday afternoon.

The Knights would add a pair of goals in the second and both came on the power play. Overall, Wilkes-Barre went a stellar three-for-four on the man advantage.

First, Evan Orr held the puck at the blue line for the Knights with just a handful of seconds left on the “PP.” The blue liner shot through a seam of players and found the stick of Knights’ forward Jacob Badal in front, who tipped home his fourth goal on the year. Badal now has three points in his last four games.

Just 12 seconds later, Cam Hebert rushed up the right wing for Johnstown after the face-off out in  center ice, before blasting the puck top shelf past Vyletelka to cut their deficit in half.

With the score 3-2,  Hebert was spotted for hooking at the 19:15 mark of the second. Just as the period was about to expire, Adrian Danchenko got in front of the cage to shoot a low wrist shot for his fourth of the season. The clock read 1.8 seconds left when Danchenko made his tally in what was the winger’s record-breaking 117th game in an NAHL Knights Jersey, seating him in sole possession of most games played in the teams’ four year stay in the “league of opportunity.”

With high hopes, Wilkes-Barre marched into the third hoping the late goal by Danchenko would serve as the nail in Johnstown’s coffin. The Tomahawks, however, did not go down.

Penalties killed Wilkes-Barre in the third period, with the team taking four minors and one major at the end of the game. Johnstown would score three in the period, including two on the power play, with Knights’ nemesis Carson Briere doing the bulk of the damage.

Briere crashed the net and whacked in the third goal for Johnstown past Vyletelka at the 8:29 mark of the third. Just 1:29 later, the Tomahawks tied the game. NAHL leading scorer Samuel Solensky tallied on the power play off a pass from Briere  while Joey Verkerke sat in the penalty box for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The back-breaker came when Zak Currie got called for a hook behind the Knights’ net. Power play specialist Briere tucked home the game winner on the right side of the net, capping off a three point period for Briere, and a heartbreaking Johnstown comeback. The three goals came in a span of 4:33, taking the game from being 4-2 Knights and turning into a 5-4 Johnstown win.

Vyletelka made 44 saves in the loss. The Knights are 5-11-1.

Another chance to end the skid comes Friday, November 9th, when the New Jersey Titans come to Revolution Ice Centre for the start of a home-and-home weekend with Wilkes-Barre.