Friday afternoon saw the Knights meet the Johnstown Tomahawks for the third-consecutive game. Following a Tomahawks shutout victory in the pair’s prior meeting, the Knights offense was hungry for a rebound.
Jack Olmstead found just that, only 1:06 into the first period of Friday’s contest. Off a shot from Curtis Carlson, set up by Luke Robinson’s pass, Olmstead flipped a loose puck past Tomahawks starter Britt League, the netminder who shut the Knights out last Saturday.
Less than 30 seconds later, Tyrone Bronte put the Knights up 2-0 with a shot from in front that just found its way past League. The assists came from Justin Engelkes and Anthony Firriolo at 1:33.
The Knights tacked on their third tally of the period when, on a power play, Tom Farrell hammered a laser to the twine for his third goal of the season. Helpers were credited to Michael Morrissey and Reed Robinson as the Knights took a commanding just shy of the halfway point of the period.
The Tomahawks, as they have in each game against the Knights in which they’ve trailed, clawed their way back, creating offensive pressure in the second half of the frame. Christian Stoever in net again for the Knights, stood his ground until Donovan Ott recorded his first goal since his return to the Tomahawks at 18:47. His first tally of 2017-18 came off a howitzer shot from the left circle, set up by Toby Sengvonxay and Ben Schmidling. The 3-1 score would hold through the end of the period.
The Knights began the second frame in much the same way as the first. The team started off well in transition, and on an odd-man rush in the first minute, Shay Donovan took a crisp pass from Mike Morrissey, fed by Adrian Danchenko and fired it past League, stick side for the 4-1 lead.
The Tomahawks answered a minute later when Carson Brière picked up goal number two of the season-his first with the Tomahawks-on a tip off Sengvonxay’s shot, with the secondary apple coming from Cade Groton. The goal spurred a back-and-forth stretch through the next 10 minutes of play with two unsuccessful power plays for the Knights and one for the Tomahawks.
Johnstown broke through at 13:15 when Ott jumped off the bench following the expiration of a penalty. Ott, assisted by Brière, walked in over the Knights line, and with space, ripped his second goal of the game to bring the Tomahawks within one, a margin that held through the end of the second.
The third period began with another fast Knights start. 2:30 into the frame, Matt Kidney, set up by Reed Robinson and Michael Morrissey on a great denial of a shorthanded breakaway, notched the Knights second power play goal of the game. On the ensuing faceoff a Johnstown slashing sent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton right back to the man-advantage. Kidney found the twine again at 3:22 for his team’s third power play strike, with assists coming Blake Kryska and Mike Morrissey.
The goal gave the Knights the insurance they needed as the third developed into both teams trading penalties through much of the remainder of regulation. Each kill solidified to not allow a goal until the game’s final minutes.
Following their taking of a five-minute major with 4:56 to play, the Tomahawks gained late life when Donovan Ott completed his hat trick with a short-handed goal at 17:24. The tally was set up by a solid exit pass from Karim DelPonte to Samuel Solensky. The latter drove to the Knights slot before turning the puck back to the trailing Ott who pushed it by Stoever.
Despite pulling within two, the Tomahawks kept League in net for the remainder of regulation. Despite a pair of shorthanded chances, Johnstown could not narrow their deficit any further, as the Knights skated to their 14th win of the season. Their 31 points are the league’s and the division’s highest total.
The two teams will rematch tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 pm EST. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow Knights social media and visit www.nahl.com for updates.
Reminder: help the Knights check hunger! To any fan attending tomorrow’s game, bring three canned goods or non-perishable items to exchange for one free ticket. There is no limit to how many free tickets can be earned.