Final quarter of the season begins.
Friday, March 1st- New England Sports Village at 7:30pm
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (18-23-4, 43pts.)
Northeast Generals (17-20-9, 41pts.)
The Knights enter the new month winners of four straight. The club is one shy of tying their season-best five game win streak set from November 24-December 8. during that streak, they beat Northeast twice. Last time out, Wilkes-Barre persevered after giving up a three goal lead to the New Jersey Titans by taking a 5-3 final. Sacha Guillemain had a carer-high four point game (1G-3A).
On the other side, the Generals are coming off a weekend sweep on the road against the Jamestown Rebels, having given up just one goal. Goaltender David Fessenden made both starts, earning a shutout Saturday and stopping 58 of 59 shots on the weekend.
Friday begins the first of two weekends in the month where the Knights will play three games in three days. Both come against Northeast, with the other three-in-three being played at Revolution Ice Centre later in the month. It’s also the beginning of a season-long eight game road trip.
The Knights play four of the five other teams in the NAHL’s East Division. Each opponent enters the month seated ahead of Wilkes-Barre. The only team behind them in the division (Maryland) will serve as the regular season finale to start April.
March is also the busiest month overall for the grey and blue, as they play 13 times in the next 30 days.
The General Consensus
With a three-in-three against Northeast both this weekend and again on March 22-24, it’s safe to say these six games could in all likelihood be the determining factor as to who gets the final playoff spot in the east.
Maryland trails Northeast for the final spot by nine points and has already played 50 games, giving them a low probability of making it in. With Johnstown clinched, plus Jamestown and New Jersey ahead of the pack by a seismic margin, it really does come down to the Knights and Generals. Wilkes-Barre/Scarnton will be favored by having a game in hand, as well as more wins on the season. Northeast has taken advantage of their losses, having done so past regulation nine times; a number no other team in the NAHL has reached.
Each game acts as a four point contest between these two clubs. The “magic number” for the Generals to clinch a playoff spot is currently 28, meaning they would need to win all 14 of their remaining games if both the Black Bears and Knights would do the same. That said, each win over the Knights would drop their number by four. A disastrous weekend for the grey and blue could bring the home team’s number all the way down to 16. Head coach Tom Kowal’s group will take every measure to ensure that does not happen.
For What It’s Worth
This is the ninth meeting of the season between the Knights and Generals. A total of 14 games are played between the two clubs; the most either team has with another opponent. The Knights lead the season series, 5-3.
Both teams played five games in February. The Knights went 4-1, while the Generals finished 3-1-1. Wilkes-Barre’s most recent loss was their only one in the month, which came against the Generals on February 1st.
Zach Stejskal leads the league in shots against and save percentage with a .936%.
In the three previous weekend the Knights and Generals have met, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has gone 3-0 in the first game.