Tag Archives: 2017-18

EHL: Knights Wrap up Week with 7-6 OT Win

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!

 

Knights Roster Breakdown III: Back End Reinforced by New Arrivals

With more than half the back end turned over from last season, the Knights excited by defensive additions

Continuity has been a theme for the Knights and the players protecting their defensive zone over the past two years. Names like Dorian Dawson, Tim Gelatt, Elijah Latimer, and Grant Valentine have been regular since the start of the Knights arrival to the NAHL. That’s all set to change as Gelatt, Latimer, and Valentine head to college, while Dawson attempts to make the USHL.

That list of names includes the team’s number one goalie for the past two years, last season’s top defenseman, its most recent captain, and one of the Knights program’s original players.

Needless to say, the team has an important task ahead in replacing some of its core defensive players. With expectations high, the staff is confident that the players that can are among those they’ve brought in this offseason.

“We’re really happy with some of the defensemen we’ve added to the roster this year,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “This year, I think the biggest thing we wanted to improve on is size. I think we have some bigger, stronger defensemen this year.”

The International Pool

Cory Ellerton is the lone defenseman from abroad vying for one of the four import spots on the Knights roster.

From Pointe-Claire Quebec, Ellerton is a big-bodied, left-handed shot with an interesting blend of speed and strength. The 20-year old is coming off a season in the NOJHL where he scored two goals and 11 assists in 46 games with the Espanola Express.

He flashed at both ends of the ice at camp, but added a few productive shifts in the offensive zone tallying a goal and an assist.

The Tendered Defensemen

The Knights tender class continued its strong showing as Tom Farrell and Blake Kryska both turned in strong performances at main camp.

“Two guys who have really stood out this camp are Thomas Farrell and Blake Kryska,” said Whiteside back at main camp. “They’re exceeding our expectations right now, and we’re looking forward to big things out of them.”

“I’d say I’m more of a two-way defenseman,” said Farrell when asked about his skillset. “I’m more offensive-I like to join the play a lot. I just try to shut the opposition as much as possible.”

Farrell affiliated with the team last season. His playing time included valuable minutes in the Robertson Cup playoffs in which he did not look out of place. The big righty looks to make himself a regular in the Knights line up.

“Thomas’ elite skating ability and vision are his best attributes,” said Whiteside. “We feel his game will translate extremely well at the NAHL level and above.”

Kryska started off quickly at camp, scoring three goals in his first three games. His size, strength, and past NAHL experience will make him a strong candidate to push for a roster spot in 2017-18.

“Blake’s a steady presence on the blue line and his decision-making skills with the puck are beyond his age,” said Whiteside. “We expect Blake to log a ton of minutes on our back end this year.”

Luke Robinson wasn’t at main camp, but affiliated with the Knights last season, playing enough to warrant a comfort level with the Knights staff over his abilities.

“Luke is a big, physical presence in his own zone and has the skating ability to jump in and join the rush if the opportunity presents itself,” said Schreiber. “Luke’s hockey IQ is probably his biggest strength as he keeps it simple and minimizes mistakes.”

Robinson displayed his consistency in his prior league, playing in a total of 72 games over his past two seasons in the T1EHL U16, scoring 3-7-10 in 2015-16 and 1-8-9 in 2016-17, supporting the offensive dimension he has, accompanying his intelligence and physicality.

Camp Invites

Across the board, the Knights staff consistently praised the depth of their camp roster as more than a handful of invites will make their way back to compete at training camp.

Paul Luebke will be among those returning. The Wisconsin-native contributed two goals and an assist at main camp and has been a consistent performer in the USPHL prior to this season.

Hunter Macy was another steady defender throughout camp. With the Delbarton School in the USHS he scored 10 goals and 28 assists in 59 games over the last two years.

2000 birth year Jake Sandomeno was among the more productive defensemen in camp, scoring three goals and playing in the maximum of five games. In addition to a steady shot, the right-handed defender showed speed and a willingness to pinch hard from the blue line.

Goalies

With all goalies from the 2016-17 roster now departed, the Knights are taking all applications to take charge in net for the upcoming season.

Their most familiar choice is the former first overall pick from the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft. With the Northeast Generals last season, Dave Tomeo stood out in a late-season contest against the Knights in which he made a handful of dazzling saves.

Now a tender for the Knights, Tomeo flashed again flashed his abilities at main camp. His most spectacular moment came on a leaping effort from his knees, deflecting a puck wide of the net while tangled amongst several bodies in the crease. His habit for regularly making saves ‘he’s not supposed to be able to make,’ highlights his name as one to watch moving forward.

“David is a goaltender that comes with junior experience in both the USHL and the NAHL,” said Whiteside. “He has won at every level and we expect him to have a significant impact in our crease right away.”

Morgan Kelly, a ’98 who played in the T1EHL and BCHL last year, performed admirably through five games at camp-including both all-star games-as the California native looks to stick in Pennsylvania on his cross-country voyage.

Kevin Lake is from either further west than Kelly, and likewise would like to make the most of air miles by finding a home with the Knights. The big, 6-4 netminder is coming off an NA3HL season in which he appeared in 27 games for two separate teams.

USHL

Two players the Knights could add to their defense are third-round netminder Christian Stoever, who was taken in the 2016 USHL Futures Draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers, and fourth-round defenseman Mason Klee, a 2016 USHL Entry Draft selection by the Lincoln Stars.  Both will attempt to make their respective USHL teams in their camps in the coming weeks. Should they be released, the Knights would have the right to add them to their NAHL roster.

As a ’99 birth year who’s played the last two years in the T1EHL, Klee’s drawn attention for his ability to play a 200-foot game.

“Mason is a versatile defenseman that can make plays at both ends of the ice,” said Schreiber. “We valued his skating ability and his poise to keep things simple and not make mistakes under pressure.”

With the aforementioned job openings in the Knights crease, Christian Stoever has the talent to make a strong case for the position. Standing at 6-3, 165 pounds, the 17-year old showed athleticism and sharp reflexes over four games at Knights main camp, impressing the staff with his consistency and poise, and most importantly, his immense upside.

Like Klee, Stoever is a veteran of the T1EHL and spent last season as a teammate to Knights first-round pick Gabe Temple.

The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.

 

Knights Roster Breakdown II: Forecheck Buzzing with Balance  

A balanced group of forwards look to bolster Knights attack in 2017-18

With each year, a new crop of Knights arrives at the Revolution Ice Centre to make their case for an NAHL roster spot. This year is no exception as large shoes have been left to fill by the team’s most recent departures. Gone are forwards Joe Schuler and Sam Antonitsch, who are headed to Colby College and Europe, respectively, while veteran Paul Maust will be vying for a spot in the USHL.

On the ice, that leaves a significant loss of production to replace. Maust was second on the team in points last year, while Antonitsch was tied for second in goals. Schuler brought top-shelf toughness and steady defensive play with each shift, particularly on the penalty kill. All three were vocal members of the locker room, with years of experience playing junior hockey.

Beyond replacing players moving on, there are other roster spots open to competition. The good news for the Knights-they have many skilled and hard-working applicants.

The International Pool

In the NAHL, teams are allowed four players from outside the US on their roster. Last season, imports Dorian Dawson, Markuss Komuls and Sam Antonitsch were major pieces in the Knights lineup.

Tender Dominik Bogdziul was unable to make it to main camp, but his skill and resume are more than worthy of bringing him to training camp.

The Lithuanian has spent the last two years stateside, playing in the NA3HL. In 85 games, he registered 63 goals and 105 assists.

“Dominik creates a ton of space and offense for his teammates,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “His speed along with his skillset make him a threat all over the ice.”

Alongside his impressive play in the US, the ’98 birth year has represented his home country in four consecutive seasons at the World Junior Classic in both the U18 and U20 age groups.

Tender Tyrone Bronte is a forward from Australia. The ’99 birth year has played in the NAPHL 18U for the past two seasons, scoring 21-35-56 in 48 games. Like Bogdziul, he has represented his country at World Juniors. For Australia’s U18 team, he scored six goals and six assists in five games last season on his way to a D2B gold-medal finish.

“Tyrone brings great offensive instincts and skills to our organization right away,” said Knights head scout Justin Schreiber. “He thinks the game really well, which pushed him to lead the NAPHL in scoring this past year.”

Tomas Koblizek is a big-bodied, 17-year old turning heads wherever he goes. The Czechoslovakian forward is eligible for the 2018 NHL draft and has even achieved top-100 ranking by some NHL draft pundits.

“Tomas is a player that’s already proven himself at an international level,” said Schreiber. “He was a point-per-game player last year at the U17 World Hockey Challenge against the best 2000’s in the world. We are excited to see what he can do with his impressive offensive skillset in North America.”

Koblizek couples a 6-2, 180-pound frame with a knack for generating plays. He picked up five assists in five games in the World Hockey Challenge last season. He’s spent most of his career playing in the Czech U16 and U18 leagues with 139 points in the past four years.

Kiryll Ulanov, son of NHL and KHL veteran Igor Ulanov, is looking to form his own legacy as he moves forward in his hockey career.

The forward’s towering 6-4 frame was hard to miss at camp, and so too was his day-two performance in which he picked up three assists on three consecutive goals. The lefty has prior experience playing junior hockey in Canada.

The Tenders

Expectations were high for Josh Fricks as he entered main camp. In 2016-17, he tallied 23 goals and 35 assists in 40 games played with the Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18.

“Josh is an extremely gifted and skilled forward who put up a ton of points this year with his midget U18 team,” said Whiteside. “We feel that Josh will complement our returning core group of forwards right away.”

Watching his electric speed at main camp left no doubt that the Knights excitement for the ‘98 forward is well-warranted. Veteran Matt Kidney tabbed Fricks as one of the most impressive players he saw at camp, as the pair played three games together, often on the same line.

“He’s opened my eyes pretty wide,” said Kidney. “He’s very fast, a little bit like Curtis Carlson.”

Jack Olmstead isn’t a stranger to the Knights. He played in two NAHL games as an affiliate player last year, scoring his first NAHL goal and flashing impressive hands and speed in his audition. The staff liked what they saw from the 19-year old off the ice as well.

“The biggest thing that jumps out at you when you see Jack play is his character,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He just plays the game the right way; he’s a high character guy on and off the ice and has a ton of offensive skill.”

The lefty forward continued the trend of impressive showings from tenders at camp by showing off quick hands and a hearty helping of skill. He emerged as a leading scorer, with 2-2-4 in four games, plus two game-winning goals in shootouts.

The Draft Class 

Gabe Temple, the Knights most recent first-round pick, displayed the power element to his game, working alongside veteran Mike Gelatt for portions of camp. It was while playing alongside the latter when Temple took a slick pass and flipped it backhand for a slick goal.

“It’s a little bit faster here,” said Temple on his main camp impressions. “There’s a lot of good guys here with a lot of skill. It’s pretty fun though, I like the competitiveness. I’m a big forward, I can put the puck in the net, I make plays, I have a lot of speed.”

“Gabe projects as an impact player,” said Whiteside. “That blend of talent and want-to is something we value highly on our team.”

As with any member of their draft class, the Knights were eager to see what fifth-round pick Lincoln Hatten would bring to the ice at main camp. At each stage of the scouting process, the Dallas Stars U16 product made an impression on those the Knights sent to scout him.

“He’s a player who got better every time we evaluated him,” said Whiteside. “He’s a skilled, big forward and stood out on one of the better midget rosters in the country.”

Hatten was a consistent force across the ice at camp, showing a finishing ability to accompany his bruising tenacity, registering three goals and two assists in four games played.

Tucker Chapman, the team’s sixth round pick, is a long-time veteran of the USHS playing in his home state of Minnesota. Chapman was a standout there, finishing in the top five in goals, assists, points, and games played in Lourdes Eagles history (per eliteprospects.com).

“Tucker is a skilled forward that uses his elite skating ability to create space for himself on the rush,” said Schreiber.

The Invites

A local product from Shavertown, Pennsylvania, Chris McGrath came to camp with a strong pedigree. His brother Patrick plays for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. McGrath, a former member of the Knights 16UA teams from 2012-2014, held his own at Knights main camp, scoring goals on both day one and two before playing in both all-star games on day three.

Another former Knight returning to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area is Alex Rowella. After playing youth hockey within the organization until 2015, he has spent the last two years in his home state of Connecticut playing for the EHL’s Connecticut Oilers. A 6-1, 190-pound ‘97, Rowella is coming off a strong season in which he scored 20 goals and 17 assists in 47 games.

Rounding out the forwards is yet another familiar face in Tyler Uravage. Like Rowella, Uravage played at various levels of Knights youth hockey until 2015. He spent last season with the Binghamton Jr. Senators of the NA3HL, lighting up the score sheet with 33-69-102 in 52 games. At main camp, he skated well alongside NAHL veterans Paul Maust and Reed Robinson, picking up three goals and two assists in five games played.

The USHL

Back in 2016, Knights 2017 second-round pick Justin Engelkes was selected in the 2016 USHL Futures Draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers. As such, he’ll attempt to make their roster in the coming weeks. If he does not, the Knights can add him back to their own. The talented two-way skater offers versatility and physicality, and is already committed to play division one hockey for Miami University (Ohio).

“Justin is another quality two-way forward that plays the NAHL-style game,” said Schreiber. “He plays a very aggressive, physical style of hockey and can put the puck in the net as well.”

With main camp in the rear-view mirror, this young group will soon be competing to make the Knights roster to start the season. The best teams often must make hard decisions come roster cut deadlines, and in that regard, the coaching staff will have a lot to think about. With that said, those are the types of decisions that put together good hockey teams that produce great hockey players.

The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.

Knights Roster Breakdown I: Knights Veterans Ready to Lead the Way

Part one of two looks at the veterans coming back to Knights training camp

In their second year in the NAHL, the Knights took significant steps forward toward establishing themselves in one of the best junior leagues in the United States. Moving ahead to year three, Knights head coach Tom Kowal is making no bones about his program’s end goal for the upcoming season.

“We’re in our third year now,” he said. “Our goal isn’t just to make the playoffs. Our goal isn’t to get through round one or round two of the playoffs. Our goal is to win a Robertson Cup. Anything short of that, we’re not envisioning it right now.”

To make a run at a title at any level of any sport, experience and leadership are necessary. Bolstering the Knights chances is a strong nucleus of returning veterans.

“They’re the ones that set the tone, they set the bench mark; it’s their job right now,” Kowal said. “I told them veterans have to be veterans. They’re not rookies any more. They’re the ones that have to lead the charge. I’m pretty happy with the way they look right now.”

Returning to training camp are forwards Matt Kidney, Mike Gelatt, Curtis Carlson, Mike Morrissey, Reed Robinson, Mike Gelatt, Andrew Jackson and Adrian Danchenko.

“I think there’s a lot of speed up front,” said assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “We have a strong, returning group of forwards there.”

Matt Kidney was the Knights first round draft pick in 2016 and lived up to high expectations. The righty forward led the team in points, with 20 goals and 24 assists in 45 games.

“I think it’s the same as last year but I have more experience now,” said Kidney of his role this year at main camp. “I just need to get in touch with younger guys and be a positive influence in our locker room.”

Fellow Middletown, NJ native Mike Gelatt spent many games on a line with Kidney, and looks to build off a solid season in which he tallied 12 goals and 25 helpers in 49 games.

Curtis Carlson was one of the Knights strongest performers down the stretch of the 2016-17 season. He wowed at Knights Main Camp, flashing his trademark speed on his way to generating a high volume of offensive chances. As a veteran with experience in the NAHL dating back to the 2015-16 season, Carlson is in line to be an even bigger contributor this season.

“I hope to play more of a leadership role in the locker room,” Carlson said. “That being said, I don’t need a letter on my chest, just more of a guy to look up to, and if someone has problems they can come to me. I’m looking for guys on my team, for guys that are particularly good in the locker room. That’s the first part, you want good character. Then of course you want skilled guys, but guys that can play a role. You never know where you’re going to end up in the lineup. One night you can be on the first line, the next night you can be on the fourth. You just need to be consistent in your role.”

Carlson is one of the veterans buying into the potential he’s seen from the group competing for to make the roster.
“I want us to go to the Robbie this year,” he said. “Of course, that’s every team’s goal, but I’m a firm believer in that it starts in the first game of the year. You have to set the tempo there and then take it one game at a time. If you’re doing that, you’re doing it right and playing consistently, you’re going to make your way up there.”

The gritty Mike Morrissey is among the Knights organization’s most-tenured players and, like Carlson, stood out at main camp as one of its leaders. Last year he regularly drew opponents’ most-skilled forwards, some that are now playing division one hockey. His role moving in his second year at the NAHL is expected to grow.

Reed Robinson played his most productive hockey down the stretch of the 2016-17 season, scoring four goals and seven assists in his final 13 games. The gifted power forward has a knack for penalty-killing, and with his speed, was a consistent source of shorthanded scoring chances.

“I think we’re really fast, there’s a lot of work ethic out there,” said Robinson after main camp. “I think the biggest thing is going to be consistency. If we’re consistent we have the ability to be a really good team. You definitely have to take on a little bit of a leadership role. There’s a lot of new guys so you have to get them to loosen up, to play their games.”

Rounding out the returners to training camp are Andrew Jackson and Adrian Danchenko. The duo combined to play 94 games last season. The pair have size and speed that can’t be coached and showed versatility in filling multiple roles throughout the lineup over their past two years in the NAHL.

Familiar faces returning on the blue line are veterans Markuss Komuls, Paul Cimilluca and Joey Verkerke.

Komuls is a solid puck-mover who made a strong transition from tier-III to tier-II with the Knights last season. The Latvian’s ability to skate the puck and dictate possession in the offensive zone placed him second in scoring among Knights defenders last year.

A second-round pick in last year’s NAHL entry draft, Paul Cimilluca will look to take the next step this season. The right-handed defenseman developed a solid two-way game, eating a lot of minutes in his first junior season. He brings both size and strength with his game and showed off a powerful shot in camp.

“I’ve just been working out, trying to get stronger in the gym,” he said of his offseason goals. “On the ice, I’ve been working on my skating, trying to get faster and quicker, and just working on handling the puck better so I can make more plays.”

Now a seasoned junior hockey player, Cimilluca is eager to share lessons he’s learned.

“My advice to the guys here has been to just to go out and play your game, do what you do best, don’t try and do something you’re not used to doing,” he said. “If you’re a goal-scorer, go out and put a few in the net, if you’re a grinder, go out and make a few plays and do what comes naturally to you and what you’re comfortable with. It’s a trial for everyone, we’re all trying to make this team.”

Joey Verkerke joined the Knights roster after the start of the season last year and represented himself well in his junior hockey action. The Michigan-native had a busy offseason, playing in a summer league with names like Detroit Red Wings star Dylan Larkin. The agile defenseman will look to complement a Knights blue line that’s been bolstered by bigger bodies this offseason.

USHL
Two Knights veterans are currently pushing for USHL spots after being selected in this year’s USHL Entry Draft. Should either be released from their USHL teams, the Knights retain their rights and thus can add them back to their NAHL roster.

Paul Maust has been a mainstay in the Knights NAHL lineup for the past two years. Even after joining the team following the first month of last season, Maust still finished second on the roster with 43 points. He was selected 75th overall by the Green Bay Gamblers in the 2017 USHL Entry Draft. At Knights main camp, he helped introduce rookies to grind of playing against junior hockey players.

“As an older guy, you just have to keep the locker room loose, make sure they’re not too nervous-just go out there and have some fun,” Maust emphasized. “I mean the biggest thing for me is don’t get outside your game, do what you’re good at. I think I saw a group that’s going to be able to go on some streaks and sweep consecutive opponents.”

Dorian Dawson has spent the past two seasons ascending to the top spot on the Knights blue line. The Canadian import was deployed in all situations last season, using his size and speed to overwhelm opponents up and down the ice. He was rewarded for his 9-25-34 line and steady defense by being taken in the 7th round of the draft by the Fargo Force.

The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.

Knights Open Main Camp Excited by Prospects

With eyes ahead, team enjoys productive, competitive opening to camp

The Knights took the Pennsylvania heat to the ice Wednesday afternoon as they forge ahead to write their next chapter in the NAHL. The talent that took the ice on Wednesday mixed speed and grit with NAHL tenure and fresh legs.

“It’s very evident that our assistant coach Andrew Whiteside and head scout Justin Schreiber, two guys who head our scouting program and our recruiting, along with all the others that have helped us, that they’ve really done a great job this past year,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “They pounded the pavement. We have eight teams with a lot of great talent and that’s a good problem to have.”

Over the course of the past year, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staff has been scouring the hockey world for talent to bring to the 2017-18 season and beyond. Main Camp not only brings together the subjects of their search, but tests their scouting through competition.

“It is big week for us,” said Knights head scout Justin Schreiber. “Andrew Whiteside and I spent a ton of time on the road, and this week is kind of the culmination of everything. It all comes together-draft picks, tenders, and returners. This week is big. That being said, the games today were really high-paced. I’m pretty impressed with the level of play. I’m excited to see what carries over to day two.”

Formed from a massive pool of Knights veterans, tenders, draft picks, and invitees, eight teams played four games this afternoon. They’ll play eight more games tomorrow before the camp roster is trimmed into two all-star teams. Those teams will fill out the remaining available spots on the Knights roster.

“We want guys who play with grit, said Schreiber.” It’s important for us to find forwards that mix that skill and grit together and defenseman that are both gritty and mean-guys that have a little gravel in their gut. We want guys who bring the lunch pail and their boots to work every day and at the end of the day, we want our team to be really hard to play against. I think that showed itself here on day one.”

Returning veterans wasted little time in making an impression. As last season’s leading scorer, it only was only fitting that Matt Kidney would punctuate his team’s game one victory by burying a shot top shelf from just inside the blue line. Mike Gelatt rattled the boards down low, Paul Cimilluca potted a goal off a 2-on-1 rush, Mike Morrissey consistently inhabited his opponent’s crease, Curtis Carlson blazed through back-checkers to create chances, while Paul Maust and Reed Robinson took turns putting pucks in the twine. When they weren’t on the ice, the same players were engaged off of it, attentively following each game, eagerly surveying each potential new team mate.

“They’re the ones that get us going,” said Kowal. “They set the bench mark. It’s their job right now. I told them, that veterans have to be veterans. They’re not rookies anymore. Those are the guys that have to lead the charge. If we don’t have good leaders, we’re not going to have a good hockey team. I’ve really been pretty hard on my veterans this past summer to make sure they’ve been working out, to make sure they’re ready. So far I’m pretty happy with the way they are looking right now. Even walking in, they look bigger. They’re buying into the organization’s standard right now. Just making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore. We’re going into our third season-round one isn’t good enough. We need a round two-we need a round trip to have a successful season.”

While the veterans set an early tone, newer players made their impacts known. Tendered defenseman Blake Kryska notched two goals in his first game. Tom Farrell, a big blue-liner who, like Kryska, spent a few games with the Knights last season, tallied a goal in his first game as well. Goalie Dave Tomeo, once a Knights opponent, was calm and steady in between the pipes.

Draft pick Lincoln Hatten showed off an impressive combo of size and speed, creating a few odd-man advantages by streaking past the last defender. First round pick Gabe Temple displayed impressive stick handling as he appeared unrelenting in attacking the offensive zone.  Christian Stoever, the lone goalie selected by the Knights in this year’s draft, impressed with several acrobatic saves.

All newcomers and veterans will get another chance tomorrow to make an impression as the Knights take further stock of their new roster. For the players that in camp only by invitation, Kowal offered encouragement.

“They should just be who they are,” said Kowal, “We can only draft and tender so many guys. There’s a lot of great hockey players out there. It seems like every year-and I’ve been doing this for 15 years-a kid that we didn’t draft, didn’t tender, a kid who hasn’t played a game for me in his life makes the team. It’s just that blue-chipper that no one knows who slips through the cracks, that comes out here and has a really good weekend, impresses our staff, and ends up being a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knight.”

Game one begins at 8:30 am as Navy takes on Purple.

Knights Complete Tender Class for 2017-18 Season

Group of five forwards, four defensemen and one goalie full of potential

As the Knights prepare for tomorrow’s 2017 NAHL Draft, they do so bolstered by the confidence of having already assembled an exciting tender class for next season. Each year, NAHL teams are given 10 tenders, or agreements used to secure player rights within the NAHL for the upcoming season. Over the past year, the Knights staff has been busy scouting across the country and the world, for future players. Their efforts have culminated in a group of ten players, versatile in skills, positions, and experience.

“Our staff has put in a lot of hours to build this list and we’re really pleased with how it came out,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “There’s a lot of talent in this group. I’m excited to bring them together and work with them this summer. It’s a group that could really play a big part for us this coming season.”

Jack Olmstead, Forward, Little Caesars U18, HPHL U18

As an affiliate player with the Knights NAHL team last year, Jack made an immediate impact by scoring a goal in just his second NAHL game.

“The biggest thing that jumps out at you when you see Jack play is his character,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He just plays the game the right way; he’s a high character guy on and off the ice and has a ton of offensive skill.”

That skill was put on the display for the Little Caesars U18 team where the lefty forward tallied nine goals and 17 assists in 17 games. The scoring prowess, attitude and prior NAHL experience has the Knights excited for his potential.

Tyrone Bronte, Forward, Meijer AAA Hockey 18U, NAPHL 18U

Bronte was a part of a U18 D2B gold-medal finish for his home country of Australia at the World Junior Classic last season. The Heathmont, Victoria native led his team with six goals and six assists in five games played. The leading scorer trend continued stateside where he scored 12 goals and 24 assists in 18 games with Meijer AAA Hockey in the NAPHL 18U.

“Tyrone brings great offensive instincts and skills to our organization right away,” said Schreiber. “He thinks the game really well, which pushed him to lead the NAPHL in scoring this past year.”

Thomas Farrell, Defenseman, Chicago Mission U18, HPHL U18:

Farrell, another 2016-17 affiliate player, impressed enough to earn a call-back to help a Knights roster in the Robertson Cup Playoffs. In five total games, the 6-1 defenseman skated well in the minutes he was given and added a goal for good measure.

“Thomas’ elite skating ability and vision are his best attributes,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “We feel his game will translate extremely well at the NAHL level and above.”

In 22 games with the Chicago Mission U18, Farrell demonstrated that ability with big minutes and a solid stat line of a goal and eight assists.

Josh Fricks, Forward, Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U

A native of Laguna Niguel, California and most recently a member of the Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U Tier -1 AAA program, Fricks is another skilled forward with plenty of points on the resume. This past season the 1998 birth year registered 23 goals and 35 assists in 40 games played.

“Josh is an extremely gifted and skilled forward who put up a ton of points this year with his midget U18 team,” said Whiteside. “We feel that Josh will complement our returning core group of forwards right away.”

Blake Kryska, Defenseman, Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U18, T1EHL U18

Kryska is another defenseman with NAHL experience, the most recent coming with the Knights in the 2016-17 Robertson Cup Playoffs. All totaled, the ’99 birth year has already amassed a healthy amount of work in the NAHL to accompany 13 games played in the T1EHL U18. There the big-bodied defenseman posted a line of one goal and six assists for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.

“Blake’s a steady presence on the blue line and his decision-making skills with the puck are beyond his age,” said Whiteside. “We expect Blake to log a ton of minutes on our back end next year.”

Luke Robinson, Defenseman, Dallas Stars AAA U16, T1EHL U16

The Knights again bring back a familiar face as Robinson is another former affiliate player the team saw in action last year. To have that experience before his 16th birthday is an impressive feat, one not lost on the Knights staff.

“Luke is a big, physical presence in his own zone and has the skating ability to jump in and join the rush if the opportunity presents itself,” said Schreiber. “Luke’s hockey IQ is probably his biggest strength as he keeps it simple and minimizes mistakes.”

Robinson displayed his consistency in his prior league, playing in a total of 72 games over his past two seasons in the T1EHL U16, scoring 3-7-10 in 2015-16 and 1-8-9 in 2016-17, supporting the offensive dimension he has, accompanying his intelligence and physicality.

David Tomeo, Goalie, New Jersey Hitmen, USPHL

A former opponent, Tomeo made his lone NAHL start last year against the Knights in the final stretch of the regular season. Though the Knights were ultimately victorious that afternoon, Tomeo made a lasting impression with a flurry of impressive saves.

“David is a goaltender that comes with junior experience in both the USHL and the NAHL,” said Whiteside. “He has won at every level and we expect him to have a significant impact in our crease right away.”

In 11 games in the USPHL Premier last season, Tomeo backed up his impressive showings at other levels with a GAA of 2.18 and a save percentage of .925 in 11 regular season games.

Andrew Wells, Forward, Esmark Stars U16 AAA, NAPHL 16U

Already 6-1 at 17 years old, Wells is a power forward coming out of U16 but with that the right-handed forward brings more than just physicality. In 73 games with the Esmark Stars last season, he picked up 35 goals and 37 assists in 73 games played.

“Andrew plays a true power forward game,” said Schreiber. “His mix of size, physical play, and offensive ability is very exciting. His ceiling is very high and we are excited see how he develops.”

Dominik Bogdziul, Forward, Binghamton Jr. Senators, NA3HL

Bogdziul is another member of the Knights tender class that has represented his country at World Juniors this past season. A member of team Lithuania in the WJC U20 D2A, Bogdziul scored four goals and eight assists in five games played in a gold place finish in the tournament.

In the NA3HL last season, he tallied 46 goals and 89 assists in 50 games played for the Binghamton Jr. Senators.

“Dominik creates a ton of space and offense for his teammates,” said Whiteside. “His speed along with his skill set make him a threat all over the ice.”

Kolby Klingenmeyer, Defenseman, Colorado Thunderbirds U16, T1EHL U16

The most recent addition to the Knights tender class, Klingenmeyer is a right-handed defenseman born in the year 2000. Still just 16, Klingenmeyer is coming off an impressive season for the Colorado Thunderbirds last season, as the 6-1 blueliner scored three goals and 21 assists in 32 regular season games. He added three more goals and five helpers in five playoff games.

“Kolby is a defenseman that brings a nice offensive element to his game,” said Schreiber. “He doesn’t sacrifice size or physicality with that either, which makes him an exciting guy to bring to our defensive group.”

The Anchorage, Alaska native has the ability and production that can’t be ignored.

With the tender class squared away the Knights will add to the list of potential newcomers in the 2017 NAHL Entry Draft, tomorrow at 2 PM EST. The draft will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com and a live tracker will be available at www.nahldraft.com. Follow live updates on the Knights picks at www.wbsknights.com as we bring you the profiles of each draft pick complete with input from Knights staff.