Quick Hits: NAHL Game 35 Preview

Saturday, January 12th-Northwest Arena @ 7:05pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (12-20-2, 26pts.)
at
Jamestown Rebels (21-10-3, 45pts.)

Final meeting until March 15th.

Last Game
Jamestown blanked the Knights on Friday, 3-0. Goaltender Ryan Keane earned his second shutout of the season, making 17 saves. Samuel Vyletelka stopped 26 shots in the loss for Wilkes-Barre.

A combined 49 penalty minutes were handed out, including a second period fight between Jamestown’s Seth Bergeron and Anthony Mastromonica for the Knights.

I think We Should See Other People
Saturday marks the sixth time in the last seven games that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will be playing the Jamestown Rebels. This is the only time this season such an instance happens for the Knights against any team.

During this series of games, Wilkes-Barre has gone 1-3-1, having earned points in both of last weekend’s meetings. The Rebels have outscored the Knights 12-7. The teams have combined for 125 PIM in the five recent games against one another. Goaltenders have been mightily busy in this stretch, as a combined 316 shots have been put on goal by both teams (not including shots from shootout).

No Periods Off
Having played the Rebels nine times already this season, the Knights can say they absolutely, positively know two things about their inner-division rival: They are a very good hockey team, and they can be beaten.

Jamestown leads the season series with a 7-1-1 mark, but the Knights proved last weekend they are just as good a team as the Rebels when they play a full 60 minutes.

That last part means a lot.

In Friday’s affair, Wilkes-Barre failed to generate much in the opening period, being outshot 13-4 and trailing 2-0. A bad breakdown in their own end led to the first goal of the game. The Knights would battle in the third period, firing multiple shots off the posts, but it’s hard to win hockey games in one period. Again, this team has the ability, but they will need 60 minutes of solid effort and a high compete level if they aspire to beat the second best team in the division.

For What It’s Worth
In other East Division news, the Johnstown Tomahawks can actually begin looking at playoffs, as their magic number is 18. Any combination of points gained by Johnstown and points lost by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and/or Northeast that equals 18 will officially clinch a spot in the Robertson Cup Playoffs for the Tomahawks, which should come as no surprise given their tear through the league this season.

In other words, even if every East Division team would win all of their games for the remainder of this season, Johnstown would only need to win nine of their 25 remaining games to clinch.

With 22 points, Jacob Badal ranks third among East Division rookies in scoring. He is tied with New Jersey’s Kyle Jeffers. Badal does however trail Jeffers in goal leaders among rookies. The Titans forward leads all rookies across the NAHL with 18, while 17-year-old Badal sits third in the league with 13.

Wilkes-Barre sits just a point behind the fourth place Maryland Black Bears. Maryland was shut out by the Tomahawks Friday night and the teams meet each other again Saturday. A Knights win, coupled with a Maryland loss would put them in possession of the final playoff seed temporarily. The Northeast Generals play the New Jersey Titans also, and while a Generals and Knights win would give both teams 28 points, the Knights would own the tie-breaker due to wins and the season series against Northeast.