Knights salvage weekend to keep playoff hopes alive
A combined 73 shots on net resulted in no goals through 65 minutes. Zach Stejskal and David Fessenden dueled relentlessly until Jordan Strand converted on a game-winning shootout goal in the final round, helping the Knights take a 1-0 decision over the Northeast Generals Sunday at Revolution Ice Centre.
With four games left in the season, Wilkes-Barre trails Northeast by three points for the final playoff spot in the east. Johnstown, Jamestown, and New Jersey have already secured playoff berths, leaving the Knights and Generals to fight for the final spot.
After a disappointing game Saturday, Head Coach Tom Kowal had his group ready right off the jump in the Sunday matinee. A fast, physical start led to Wilkes-Barre outshooting Northeast at one point by 10-3. David Fessenden earned the call in goal for the third consecutive day, but the ’98 net minder looked fully prepared, having his best start of the three-in-three weekend showing no signs of fatigue.
Fessenden kept the Generals in the contest early, while Knights’ goalie Zach Stejskal did his part in the middle period. Northeast outshot the grey and blue, 15-10 in the second and 13-6 in the third. The Knights began the third down a man with Adrian Danchenko in the box, then before his penalty expired another penalty was called on the Knights with Evan Orr off for slashing. In basically four continuous minutes of a power play, the Generals fired shot after shot, but Stejskal had the answer.
On the other side, it’s hard to find a player for the Knights that stood out over the rest other than the goalie, but an honorable mention goes to Zak Currie fo his efforts. Currie had three different point-blank opportunities near the net. His first was blocked by a defender. His second missed the net and on a fast break alone toward the cage, Currie drew a hooking call from behind to give the Knights a power play.
Try as they might, both teams were unable to solve the goaltenders before the end of regulation. Right as three-on-three overtime began, Generals’ leading scorer Louis Boudon cut through the middle for a breakaway on Stejskal, but missed the net. That stood out as the scoring chance of overtime, but with nothing going in, a shootout was necessary.
Jake Fuss and Adrian Danchenko were denied, leaving defenseman Jordan Strand as the last hope in round three. Strand cut left and roofed a shot over the shoulder of Fessenden to have his team surround him in celebration as the Knights managed to salvage their three game weekend with the Generals and keep playoff hopes alive.
Stejskal and Fessenden both earned shutouts since goals in a shootout don’t count. Fessenden earned his second shutout of the season, while Stejskal is up to six on the year.
The Knights are 23-28-5, while the Generals still remain within reach at 22-24-10. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has 51 points and Northeast sits with 54.
Up next comes the final road trip of the regular season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton played the Johnstown Tomahawks to close out March.