Quick Hits: NAHL Game 54 Preview

Knights return home to battle Generals for final playoff spot

Friday, March 22nd- Revolution Ice Centre @7pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (22-27-4, 48pts.)
vs
Northeast Generals (20-24-9, 49pts.)

After a three week, eight game road trip to kick off March, the Knights will play five of their remaining seven games from the friendly confines of Revolution Ice Centre. It starts with a three game swing against the Northeast Generals.

A Numbers Game
After splitting a weekend with the Rebels, the Knights have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Generals sport a nearly identical mark at 5-4-1. Friday is the first of three games between the Knights and Generals on the weekend and the 12th of 14 meetings this season. The Knights and Generals have more games against each other than any other team. Wilkes-Barre is favored in the series by a 7-4 edge. This is the fifth different weekend the teams have played one another. The grey and blue have either won or split the previous four weekends.

Playoff Tracker
The Johnstown Tomahawks have clinched the east division, while Jamestown has secured a playoff berth. With the Maryland Black Bears being mathematically eliminated from contention, that leaves three teams to fight for the final two spots. Realistically, the New Jersey Titans are a lock despite not officially clinching a spot. The Titans sit nine points ahead of Wilkes-Barre and have a 99% probability of making the playoffs.

That leaves it all down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Northeast. It’s the final time these teams play each other,  and very well could determine who plays beyond April 6th. Here’s the remaining schedules for both clubs after this weekend:

WBS
@ Johnstown (2x)
vs Maryland (2x)

NTE
vs Jamestown (2x)
vs New Jersey (2x)

If Wilkes-Barre can sweep the weekend, they could jump as many as five points ahead of the Generals and could get their magic number all the way down to three points. If the opposite happens, the Knights would essentially have to win out the remainder of the season for a chance to defend their east division title from last year.

Not FUSSing Around
Jake Fuss scored thee goals in as many games during last week’s slate of action. One of which was an overtime tally against the rival Titans. The 20-year-old put his second stretch of goals in three or more games together, and has 12 on the season and 10 in his last 17 games. He’s been the hottest player for Tom Kowal’s group in the second half of the year, and has seven points in 11 games against Northeast this season. Two of those were goals. The forwards also helps his case by staying on the ice and out of the box. With 22 PIM’s, Fuss is the third least penalized player on the Knights among skaters who have 50 or more games played.

For What It’s Worth
In the previous 11 meetings, the Knights have outscored the Generals, 36-30. Two of the games went to overtime, each being won by the Knights. The club has also shut out the Gens’ three times. Zach Stejskal owns two of those, while rookie Jacob Urban pitched a 26 save goose egg in his NAHL debut earlier this month.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is the only team to have two defenseman in the top 10 for scoring among rookie blue liners. Davis Pennington sits 9th, while Jordan Strand’s 22 points seat him 5th in that category.

This is the first meeting between the teams in Pennsylvania since October 13th. The last eight games played between the clubs have come in Northeast.

Catch the live broadcasts of these games all weekend long on HockeyTV.