Following a tough home loss to the Rebels Wednesday, the Knights looked to bounce back in game two of three against Philadelphia with relatively high stakes on the line. The winner of Saturday night’s contest would head into Sunday in first place in the east division.
With puck drop came a blistering pace from both forechecks, as each team traded rushes down the ice. David Tomeo was stellar in between the pipes as he fended off a healthy offering of quality chances from the Rebels attack in the opening five minutes.
Rallying behind their netminder’s steady work, the Knights counter-offensive was led by their starting line of Justin Engelkes, Tyrone Bronte, and Mike Gelatt. Just past the 5:00 mark, Gelatt pushed a puck off the half-wall to Engelkes, who’s rebound found Bronte alone in front for the game’s first goal.
Just prior to the halfway point in the first period, Mike Morrissey flipped a puck to the corner where Reed Robinson dug it loose through a battle and centered it perfectly to Adrian Danchenko in the slot. Danchenko ripped a shot past Rebels goalie Eli Billing to build the Knights a 2-0 lead that would hold through the end of first period.
The Rebels opened the second with a furious pace, attacking and testing Tomeo repeatedly. Through a scrum in front, Adam Peck finally cracked the scoreboard for Philadelphia as Tomeo was screened through traffic. Jensen Zerban and Konour Peterson were credited with the assists.
Philadelphia continued to pressure through the first ten minutes of the period, forcing a Knights penalty at 6:15. 53 seconds later Jensen Zerban collected a rebound from Aaron Maguyon and threw a puck to the twine over a diving Tomeo. Dusan Kmec picked up the secondary assist on the game-tying goal.
Just over a minute later, the Knights retook the lead after catching the Rebels in a line change. Shay Donovan saw a waiting Matt Kidney at the Philadelphia blue line while the Rebels cleared off for the switch. From deep in his own territory, Donovan threaded a perfect pass for Kidney as he gained the zone. Kidney pulled back in front of a back-checking Rebel and fed Jack Olmstead moving toward the net. Olmstead fired a wrister past Billing to take a 3-2 lead.
Kidney would play catalyst again in the period’s final minute. As a stretch pass came up the boards in neutral ice, Mike Gelatt tapped the puck to Kidney, who dragged it free through traffic and fed a streaking Tyrone Bronte. The Australian forward beat all parties back to the net where he deked around Billing and buried his second goal of the game.
A two-goal lead is hardly a safe advantage in hockey, and against a Rebels team that had already erased one such deficit, the Knights entered the third wary of a comeback. Philadelphia continued their high-paced attack through the opening ten minutes and were rewarded at 9:21 with a goal that trimmed the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lead to one. Set up by a Jensen Zerban takeaway, Alex Frye found Andrew Bellant over the Knights blue line where the latter burned through the last line of defense, and placed a puck past Tomeo for the Rebels third goal.
Each side proceeded to trade chances down the stretch of regulation. It wasn’t until the clock read 1:19 before the Rebels were able to pull Billing for an extra attacker. Though they were able to push the puck deep, Philadelphia couldn’t solve Tomeo. With 32 seconds to go, the Knights goalie kicked a save over to Mike Gelatt deep in his own corner. Gelatt proceeded to fire the puck down the sheet and find the open net, securing a victory for the Knights.
Back in first place in the East, the Knights will have little time to rest. The Rebels are back at the Revolution at 2:00 PM EST this afternoon. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow Knights social media and visit nahl.com for updates!