Photo Credit: Jessica Kovalcin
Sunday afternoon saw 2017-2018’s first meeting of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Philadelphia Junior Flyers at the Revolution Ice Centre. Following a shootout win in Philadelphia’s building last night, the Knights looked to duplicate their success and finish a long week off on a three-game winning streak.
The home team got off the the right start as Jake Fuss lifted the Knights to a 1-0 lead just 1:30 into the opening frame, set up by Anthony Starzi and Denys Arkhypenko. The Junior Flyers responded at 7:34 when Connor Leneghan tacked on an even-strength goal from Drew Platt.
With the score even at one, Fuss rallied the Knights power play unit just after time expired on their advantage, crashing through the slot and putting his own rebound home to regain the lead at 12:23. Two minutes and 20 seconds later, Anthony Starzi continued his stellar weekend with a snipe from the slot on an excellent feed from Peck down low in the corner. Peck’s helper extends his point streak to five games. Jake Fuss picked up the secondary assist, for his third point of the period.
The Junior Flyers would not fold, as with under three minutes remaining in the first, Nate Chuckran continued his strong weekend, tipping one past Knights goalie Jared Stahel on a perfect feed from Dennis Ruppe entering the zone.
After the high-scoring opening period, Philadelphia turned to goalie Albin Mulic to take the net in the second, replacing Tyler Sayger. Mulic was welcomed to the ice by Jake Fuss completing a hat trick just 10 seconds into the frame. Anthony Starzi and Denys Arkhypenko picked up another another pair of assists as the trio moved the puck well through the slot to find the twine.
Philadelphia didn’t wait long to answer. On a power play at 4:17, Skyler Thomas tipped a puck past Stahel off a point shot by Brian Seybold, set up by Drew Platt. Just 24 seconds later, the see-saw swung the other way as Tyler Nielsen re-installed the Knights two-goal lead off a shot from the slot, generated by crisp cycling from Rhett Padgett and Chris Petrone.
In a period dominated by penalties, the Knights recent shorthanded struggles reared their head again at 7:33 when Drew Platt beat the Knights kill to pull the Junior Flyers within one. The tally marked Platt’s fifth point in the series. The Junior Flyers man advantage wasn’t done as at 11:43, defenseman Tyler Pohlig tied the game at 5 by ripping a rocket past a screened Stahel set up with Dennis Ruppe’s second assist of the game. For Pohlig, it was his first EHL goal in his first EHL game.
Not satisfied with a hat trick or a tie, Jake Fuss struck twine for the fourth time at 17:24, set up once more by line mates Arkhypenko and Starzi. With 11 goals between the teams through 40 minutes, the stage was set for more of the high-scoring in the third.
It appeared that the volley of goals would continue after Adrian Martinez tied the game unassisted at 3:45 into the final period of regulation. Instead of following it’s predecessor’s suit, the third period then saw both teams buckle down defensively. Neither goalie blinked despite each side generating a few quality chances, and Philadelphia slightly carrying play.
The Knights, whose power play had been held scoreless, despite generating solid chances all afternoon, were given a late period boost when the Junior Flyers took a penalty with 2:30 to go. Consistent with their earlier efforts, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton did line up a few solid chances on net, but couldn’t best Mulic. As the penalty expired, Philadelphia pushed the puck out of their zone to force OT for the second-straight game.
In overtime, the Knights sent out the trio of Jake Fuss, Anthony Starzi and Rhett Padgett looking for two points. After countering a rush into their zone, Fuss swept a puck to Padgett over the left side of the Junior Flyers blue line. Padgett whipped a pass to an open Starzi in the slot, who in turn, picked his spot and buried the puck for the game-winning goal.
With the tally, Starzi has scored twice in each of the last two games and extends a four-game goal and point streak. In the last five days he has picked up seven goals and five assists. Jake Fuss in that same stretch has scored 5-5-10.
Led on this afternoon by Fuss’ 4-2-6 and Starzi’s 2-3-5, the Knights concluded their grueling week with a 3-1 record over their last four games. The team overcame a hard-working Junior Flyers opponent that tested them in almost every way imaginable. Now 7-10-0, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to keep rolling when they take on the Valley Junior Warriors and the New Hampshire Avalanche in a home-and-home split next Saturday and Sunday. Game times will be 2:30 pm EDT and 2:45 pm EDT, respectively. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all team news and updates!