Before the Knights could enjoy their Thanksgiving they first had to take on the Philadelphia Rebels Wednesday. A meeting of the NAHL’s top two point totals, the winner of the afternoon’s affair would finish with the atop the East Division as well as the NAHL standings.
The Knights first period efforts did not materialize on Wednesday, while the Rebels went to work quickly. Nick Peck, a regular along the Knights blue line in the EHL, was called up to the Rebels Wednesday and inserted into their lineup. He rewarded Philadelphia with the game’s first goal just 4:58 into the opening frame. Assists came from Eric Olson and Auggie Moore on Peck’s well-placed shot from the blue line.
The Knights would apply pressure in the minutes following a Rebels penalty at 6:04, but were unable to solve Philadelphia goalie Ryan Keane. The Rebels seized back momentum at 13:16, when Ryan Patrick found the twine on Philadelphia’s first power play of the game, off helpers from Andrew Bellant and Jensen Zerban.
Not wishing to hear any narratives on two-goals leads, the Rebels found a third off a fast backhanded shot from Zerban at 14:43, set up by Alex Frye. The goal led the Knights to swap Christian Stoever out for David Tomeo in net. Less than two minutes later, the Rebels put bodies in front of Tomeo and worked a screened shot home to the twine off the blade of Seth Bergeron. Eric Olson picked up his second assist of the game to set up Philadelphia’s fourth goal.
Following a strong first, the Rebels continued their attack in the early second. Brandon Stanley picked up his fourth goal of the season at 7:05 to create a 5-0 lead (Jimmy Glynn). The Knights, staring down their biggest deficit of the season, awoke.
Following a Rebels cross-checking penalty, just over a minute after Stanley’s goal, Jack Olmstead flipped a puck past Keane for the Knights first score, his 12th tally of the season. Apples were credited to Justin Engelkes and Mike Gelatt.
With a goal on the board, the Knights forecheck battled to narrow the deficit. They outshout the Rebels 29-18 for the remainder of regulation, as their offense pushed pucks deep into Philadelphia territory and worked hard on the walls. Their efforts were rewarded again in the second, when from under the goal line, Tyrone Bronte flipped a puck from Justin Engelkes, to a crashing Mike Gelatt. Gelatt buried his eighth goal of the year from the front of the net to pull the Knights within three.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s pressure carried over into the third period, with Ryan Keane forced to make a number of high-quality saves to preserve his team’s sizable lead. At 8:21, Bronte fed Engelkes who hammered a puck from above the circles, through traffic, and by Keane to narrow the deficit to two.
The Knights comeback had seen three consecutive goals scored on a stingy Rebels defense, but Philadelphia withstood the Knights surge into the game’s final five minutes. On a rush into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton zone, Jensen Zerban, assisted by Tyler Pohlig, pushed a puck through the pads of Tomeo to effectively put the game on ice. Though the Knights attacked until the end, the team came up short in Wednesday’s battle for first place.
Following a healthy dose of turkey today, the Knights will have another two chances against the Rebels, as they play this Saturday and Sunday at the Revolution Ice Centre. Saturday’s game will start at 7:30 pm, while Sunday’s will begin at 2:30 pm. Both games can be viewed online at hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for all news and updates.
The Knights entire organization would like to take this opportunity to wish the happiest and healthiest Thanksgiving to all their fans, players, and families, and all those who support junior hockey!