Quick Hits: NAHL Game 14 Preview

After a five game home stand, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (5-7-1, 11pts.) head to the Empire State for two games against the Jamestown Rebels (5-6-1, 11pts.) to wrap up the October schedule.

Movin’ On Up
For the third consecutive year, the Rebels are playing in a different venue. After calling Aston, Pa. home for a few years, the team stopped playing just outside Philadelphia upon the conclusion of the 2016-17 season and decided to make a move for the heart of the city, being named the Philadelphia Rebels for the 2017-18 campaign.

The Rebels played their home games in 1923 Arena on University of Pennsylvania’s campus, but the move wasn’t meant to be, prompting management to relocate once again; this time to New York.

Taking Back the Weekend
Both the Knights and Rebels look back a week ago and wished for a better result. Wilkes-Barre fell in both of their games against the East Division leading Johnstown Tomahawks, while the Rebels split a weekend with the Maryland Black Bears.

Despite gaining three out of four points on the weekend, Jamestown likely looks back and regrets much of their Saturday loss. The club led Maryland 4-1 before succumbing to a third period rally that included two power play goals for the Black Bears. Jamestown regained the lead with less than four minutes left to play, only to allow Maryland a tying goal with under a minute to go and eventually falling in a shootout.

Alike For All the Wrong Reasons
Goals against and goals for have been an issue for both these clubs early on. The teams both sit in the negative, having allowed more goals against than scored, but Jamestown has allowed the opposition to score 43 goals. Only two other teams (Maryland, Chippewa) have allowed more to go in their nets.  The Rebels have also scored just 29 times, and their power play checks in at 13%, positioning them 22nd among the 24 NAHL teams.

Unfortunately, the Knights suffer from much of the same. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has scored 28 times, which equates to 2.15 goals per game.  Their special teams fair better than Jamestown, but 37 goals against the Knights leaves them in the negative too. The team scored one goal in each of their losses last weekend, and have now dropped three straight.

You Can’t Win if You Don’t Score
Knights’ Head Coach Tom Kowal understands where the team is positioned through almost a quarter of the season and recognizes the need for adjustments to the game, especially the offensive side.

“You gotta go hard to the net and to the grey areas in this game,” said   Kowal. “If you’re walking away from the rink at the end of the night without a bruise or an ice pack on you somewhere, then you probably didn’t get to those areas and you probably didn’t score. It’s tough to win hockey games when you’re not scoring goals. We’ve really worked on bruising our bodies this week in practice to beat these goaltenders and take their eyes away to score more goals.”

For What It’s Worth
The Knights are 4-1 this year when Adrian Danchenko records at least a point.

Jamestown has lost three straight games at home. The team has given up 16 goals in four contests at Northwest Arena.

Friday marks the first meeting between the Jamestown Rebels and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, but also the first Rebels-Knights game since April 30th, when Wilkes-Barre completed a sweep of the then-called Philadelphia Rebels in the East Division Championship round of the playoffs, sending the Knights to their first Robertson Cup.

The 41st all-time  regular season meeting between the Rebels and Knights will take place Friday. Last season, the Rebels bested Wilkes-Barre in eight of 12 meetings, though the knights had the last laugh when it came to playoffs. Overall, the Rebels hold the series lead 26-14.