Evan Orr scored his first North American Hockey League goal and starter Zach Stejskal was just about every word you can use to describe unbeatable, turning aside a season high 53 shots in a 1-0 shut out win for the Knights.
Stejskal earned first star honors, along with Orr placing second, as the Knights broke through to end their seven game losing streak and did so by beating the second best team in the East Division.
Friday’s lone goal came just 3:02 into the contest. With Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the power play, forward Adrian Danchenko spun a pass to the point for Jordan Strand. From there, Strand laid the puck on for fellow blue liner Evan Orr, who got all of the shot on a one-timer to beat Titans’ goalie Matt Ladd top shelf, scoring his first NAHL goal.
“It feels great to get my first and I know everyone back home was watching,” said Orr. “Getting this win was huge for us so we can get back on track. Everyone pulled on the same rope and contributed to get the job done.”
From there, it would be all about Stejskal. The Knights got a few chances after scoring, but nothing materialized in what turned out to be a 29 shot effort for the home team.
On the other end, New Jersey peppered Stejskal amassing 53 shots, which included seven power play opportunities. In the second period alone, the Titans plastered the net minder with 23 shots. They had 15 in both the first and third. Stejskal’s biggest save came in the second, when Kyler Head camped out at the far blue line for a pass that found the winger for a clear-cut breakaway. Stejskal dazzled, flashing the left pad out to make the stop.
“We don’t win without Zach today,” said NAHL Head Coach Tom Kowal. “Sometimes you need your goalie to steal a game. He helped us get back in the win column. We’ll take the two points, but there’s still work to be done and we look to continue that tomorrow.”
New Jersey caught two early chances in the third for break away opportunities, but both shooters missed the net.
Given last year’s playoff series and continued history between the Titans and Knights, there was bound to be some bitterness displayed between the clubs. Max Klanow made his presence known in the last minute of the second, dropping the gloves to attack defenseman Danny Dimon of New Jersey. Head would engage as the third man in for the Titans, sending him to the box, along with Klanow and Dimon.
Never shy to throw a hit, Beck Moore got himself involved with a couple of big collisions. The Knights also saw help from newcomer Anthony Mastromonica, who was recently acquired in a trade with the Johnstown Tomahawks.
With the win, Wilkes-Barre improves to 6-11-1. The team travels to New Jersey Saturday night for a rematch with the Titans. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm.