Quick Hits: NAHL Game 59 Preview

Knights return home to finish regular season

Friday, April 5th- Revolution Ice Centre @7pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (24-29-5, 53pts.)
vs
Maryland Black Bears (16-36-6, 38pts.)

The End is Near
With just two games left in their season, the Knights open up a weekend of home hockey against¬†the visiting Maryland Black Bears. Albeit difficult, the Knights can still obtain a playoff berth for this year’s Robertson Cup Playoffs. They couldn’t face a better opponent in such a situation, as the team owns Maryland with a 6-0 season series thus far. This will be the first time the clubs have met in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since September when Tyrone Bronte had a three goal weekend, including an overtime winner.

Playoff Scenarios
It’s come down to the last weekend of the regular season. Both the Knights and Northeast Generals have been inseparable from one another in the standings all season long. Northeast holds the fourth and final playoff spot with three points more than Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. If the Knights lose either game this weekend in regulation, they will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. If the team wins both games, they’ll sit one point ahead of Northeast, who plays New Jersey Saturday and Sunday night. If the Generals get at least one win on the weekend, they will secure a playoff spot.

Interestingly, both teams could finish the season tied in points. The Knights could get a win and an overtime loss and Northeast could lose both games to New Jersey, or Wilkes-Barre could win both games and the Gens’ get one point in an overtime loss on the weekend. Either of those outcomes would get the Knights into the postseason as they own the tiebreaker with wins.

Playing With What You Have
As the year has continued to wind down, the injuries have piled up. Already without Sacha Guillemain and Lincoln Hatten for the remainder of the season, the Knights recently lost forward John Kaljian due to injury. Anthony Mastromonica, who was injured and missed a month of time earlier this season, will be sitting out Friday’s game with a suspension. This has forced the hand of the coaching staff to get an early look at another tender signing who could be with the club for years to come.

With Aaron Hamel already here and getting game action, he’ll be joined by fellow tender Markus Cook, who will at least play in Friday’s game. Cook spent the 18-19 season with the Binghamton Jr. Senators in the NA3HL, where he was a top 10 scorer. He skated on the fourth line in practice with Hamel and centered by Max Klanow.

For What It’s Worth
Before the Generals drop the puck on their weekend, the Knights will have already finished theirs. The Knights play Friday night while the Generals are idle, and Wilkes-Barre’s season finale is Saturday at 3:30pm. The Generals don’t begin play this weekend until Saturday at 7:30pm.

Pending the outcome of this weekend, Davis Pennington could still end the year as the NAHL’s leading goal scorer among rookie defenseman. He’s trailed Shreveport’s CJ McGee all season. McGee has 10, while Pennington sits with nine. The defending Robertson Cup Champions play Lone Star this weekend in what will be a preview for their playoff matchup in round one.

The Black Bears have the second fewest wins among NAHL teams with just 16. The team also allows the second most goals against, while scoring the league’s second fewest goals for. They are ahead of only the Brookings Blizzard in all three categories.