Tag Archives: Adrian Danchenko

Quick Hits: NAHL Game 60 Preview

Knights look to keep playoff hopes alive in regular season finale

Saturday, April 6th- Revolution Ice Centre @3:30pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (25-29-5, 55pts.)
vs
Maryland Black Bears (16-37-6, 38pts.)

Last Friday Night
Jake Fuss scored a hat trick, Gabe Temple had two goals, and the Knight smashed Maryland in an 8-1 win. Several career highs were posted. Not only did Fuss have a hat trick, but the forward also recorded five points in the game. Beck Moore delivered his first three point game with a trio of assists, while Markus Cook scored a goal in his NAHL debut. Defensemen Shay Donovan and Blake Kryska each finished the game with a +4, establishing a new career best for Kryska and a season high for the captain.

It’s The Final Countdown
Entering Saturday, the NAHL has seen 15 of its 16 openings filled for the Robertson Cup Playoffs. The Corpus Christi Ice Rays locked up the final seed in the South Division, meaning there now exists just one opening yet to be claimed. This battle is between the Knights and Northeast Generals.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will need at least one point in the game against Maryland to have a shot at making the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. A standings point would tie them with Northeast, but because the Knights own the tiebreaker in wins, they would advance into the postseason. A win of any kind for the grey and blue would force Northeast to get a win this weekend or have to lose in overtime both games against New Jersey. The Knights have yet to miss the playoffs since arriving in the NAHL in 2015.

Black and Yellow
Though the outcome is uncertain for Wilkes-Barre, the Black Bears know this will be the final time they wave their flag in the 2018-19 campaign. With the team being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, Head Coach Clint Mylymok is looking to help his club finish out strong in their inaugural season in the league. The team has lost three straight and has given up 15 goals in the last two games. After being on the wrong side of an 8-1 score Friday, it can be expected that there will be some emotional response from the team in search of their 17th win of the year.

This will also be the final junior hockey game for ’98 forward and Captain, Connor Pooley, along with defensemen Bradley Jenion and Karim Del Ponte. Expect big efforts from those three.

For What It’s Worth
15 of Wilkes-Bare’s 25 wins this season have come against Maryland (7) and Northeast (8). The Knights have yet to lose against Maryland, and a win today would mark the first time in franchise history that the Knights would sweep a season series against an East Division opponent.

With playoffs up in the air, this will at least be the final regular season junior game for Jake Fuss, Joey Verkerke, and Shay Donovan, who are all 98’s. Additionally, forward Adrian Danchenko and goaltender Zach Stejskal have signed their letters of intent, meaning this will also be the curtain call for them.

This will be the 240th regular season game for the NAHL Knights. Including playoffs, it is the 256th in team history.

Danchenko, the team’s all-time leader in games played, will play in his 158th regular season game for the Knights.

Knights Rally For Point Against Northeast

Strand ties it with 8.3 second left 

Jordan Strand helped the Knights complete a rally from being down by two, but the Generals scored in three-on-three overtime to take a 5-4 final at Revolution Ice Centre Friday night. Louis Boudon scored the overtime winner with 47 seconds left.

To even get to overtime, the Knights needed to overcome adversity. Northeast came in with a physical, aggressive pace that overwhelmed Wilkes-Barre at times, and notched a three goal second period that featured them outshooting the Knights by a 20-5 difference.

Both teams played hard in the opening 20 minutes, but the Knights were able to escape with a lead. On their first shot of the game, Zak Currie got a shot through traffic for his 7th goal of the season. The tally ended a 15 game drought for the 19-year-old.

That lead would hold up until 13:01 into the second. Gerard Maretta caught a bouncing puck in front and beat Zach Stejskal low for his first goal in the North American Hockey League. That sparked the visitors, who made a three goal run in less than six minutes.

John Jaworski would be the next opportunist and break through for the 2-1 lead. Wilkes-Barre failed to clear traffic in and around the net, and on sustained zone pressure, Jaworski benefited from a shot on bended knee inside 10 feet of Stejskal. Over three minutes later, Alex Cohen got by the defender for a cross-ice pass that he took to the front of the net with a backhand goal, making it 3-1.

The grey and blue didn’t quit. Early in the third, Jake Fuss got credit on a power play goal, giving the buzzing forward his 11th in the last 18 games. A left wing perimeter shot from Blake Kryska caught a piece of Fuss in front of the net for the biscuit to bounce in on goalie David Fessenden.

After the Generals retaliated to make it 4-2, the Knights again refused to bow out. A known “General killer”, Adrian Danchenko was able to pull his team within one on a booming one-timer that was fired top shelf just 53 seconds after Northeast scored. With seven minutes to play, the Gens’ played keep away, though the Knights still found opportunities through the sticks of players like Tyrone Bronte and Gabe Temple. It wasn’t until the dying seconds of the game that they would find their needed answer.

With Stejskal pulled, A six-on-five took place for over a minute and Jordan Strand cashed in from the middle of the blue line, driving it through the five hole of the stick-less Fessenden, thus earning the Knights a critical standings point by making it 4-4.

In the north-south style that is three-on-three overtime, the Knights’ blemish led to a Generals goal. Adrian Danchenko weaved through a defender in the slot, but misfired the puck leading it to go the other way. From there, Aurel Naus and Louis Boudon went in on an odd man rush where Boudon would finish it for the Generals win.

Northeast improves to 21-24-9, while the Knights go to 22-27-5. The teams are separated by two points. Zach Stejskal earns 37 saves, while Fessenden gets the win in goal stopping 25 pucks.

The clubs play game two of the three game weekend Saturday night at 7pm.

Knights Move Into Playoff Spot With Shutout Win

Zach Stejskal gets 5th shutout, becomes franchise leader in wins

Zach Stejskal held the Jamestown Rebels at bay until the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights were able to strike over 50 minutes in, getting a 2-0 win on the road Friday night.

Tyrone Bronte scored the game-winning-goal and first goal of the contest over 11 minutes into the third, followed by Jake Fuss’ tally for good measure. The Knights picked up their 22nd win of the season, pushing them into the fourth and final playoff spot in the east division with eight games remaining. The win also serves as the second consecutive and second in the week, with Wilkes-Barre beating New Jersey on Tuesday.

The story in this contest really is the third period. Both teams exchanged chances in the opening two, but shots were mostly perimeter and scoring chances were limited by the defense. Shots read 23-22 in favor of the Knights after two periods. Only six penalty minutes were handed out during that stretch; all of which coming in the first frame.

Fast forwards to five minutes into period three and things began to get nasty. Knights blue liner Evan Orr went for a puck behind his net when Niki Jasko barreled into him from behind, causing all players on the ice to swarm on one another behind the Knights cage. What would come of it was Orr being assessed a five minute fighting major, coupled with a 10 minute misconduct, while Jasko received a minor for checking from behind as well as a misconduct. Noah Finstrom also got involved for Jamestown and was dealt a roughing penalty. Wilkes-Barre failed to score on the four-on-three, but they would not wait much longer to find the back of the net.

At the 11:24 mark, Tyrone Bronte ended the scoreless game with his  10th goal of the season. A simple goal line drive from the right side was able to squeak through the leg pad of Ryan Keane for the 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the Knights would pad their lead with Colin Schmidt in the penalty box for slashing. On their fifth power play, Jake Fuss managed his 11th goal of the season, scoring in consecutive games after his overtime winner Tuesday. Adrian Danchenko slid a cross-ice pass to the stick of Fuss, who redirected the puck through the legs of Keane to make it 2-0.

Stejskal would hold on from there and get his fifth shutout of the season, making 29 stops. By picking up his 21st win, Stejskal becomes the winningest goaltender in NAHL Knights history. As a team, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improves to 22-26-4. The Rebels drop to 31-14-8. Goaltender Ryan Keane made 33 saves in the loss.

The rematch comes Saturday night at 7pm.

Quick Hits: NAHL Game 52 Preview

Road trip concludes in Jamestown

Friday, March 15th- Northwest Arena @7pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (21-26-4, 46pts.)
at
Jamestown Rebels (31-13-8, 70pts.)

What’s the Story?
A season-long eight game road trip will come to a close for the Knights this weekend with two meetings against the Jamestown Rebels. So far, the grey and blue have gone 3-3 on the trip, having most recently beat New Jersey Tuesday night with Jake Fuss scoring in overtime.

On the other side, Jamestown has clinched a playoff berth after sweeping the Titans last weekend. The Rebels have points in five straight, going 4-0-1 in that stretch, outscoring opponents, 26-8.

Playoff Picture
With the Northeast Generals idle on Friday, the Knights can jump into the fourth playoff spot in the east with a point against Jamestown. Wilkes-Barre leads just about every tiebreaker category if they were to match the standings points of the Generals. This weekend, Northeast will be in Johnstown Saturday and Sunday. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has gotten to within a point of the ‘Gens a handful of times over the last two months, but has struggled to get over the hump and into the final spot. That can change tonight.

Three’s Company Too
Jacob Badal, Adrian Danchenko, and Jake Fuss are all in a tie for third in team scoring with 27 points. For Badal and Danchenko, their numbers stayed consistent for awhile as some of the more productive forwards on this team, however the emergence of Jake Fuss as a top six forward has been a massive help for the Knights down the stretch.

Fuss scored the overtime winner Tuesday in New Jersey, but also earned an assist on Evan Orr’s shorthanded goal. The former EHL Knight has four points through the first six games of this road trip. Badal and Danchenko have also found net recently, with each scoring in the games against Johnstown a week ago. Fuss and Danchenko haven’t solved the Rebels yet this season, although Badal has beaten Rebel net minders four times in the previous meetings.

For What It’s Worth
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton trails the season series, 2-5-1, but they do own two of the last three meetings.

Be on the lookout for Niki Jasko. The Rebels forward has a three game scoring streak, tallying six in that span.

Friday’s game is the 13th of the last 14 to be played on the road for the Knights. They are 8-5 in the last 13.

Quick Hits: NAHL Game 51 Preview

Knights look to bounce back in game six of road trip

Tuesday, March 12th-Middletown Ice World @ 7pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (20-26-4, 44pts.)
at
New Jersey Titans (26-24-1, 53pts.)

What’s the Story?
The Titans and Knights will play their third game in the last five days, with each team looking to bounce back from being swept on the weekend. Wilkes-Barre came up short against the Johnstown Tomahawks in two meetings at 1st Summit Arena, while New Jersey got a punch in the gut being swept in Jamestown against the Rebels, scoring once in each game and being outscored 11-2 on the weekend.

Despite the Titans struggles for much of the last two months, the club still sits third in the east and continue to inch closer to clinching a playoff spot. With nine games left, their magic number is 11 to clinch a spot in the postseason.

Urban
Knights goalie Zach Stejskal was pulled in the first game of the weekend against the Tomahawks, as Head Coach and General Manager Tom Kowal decided to go with rookie Jacob Urban for the third period. The PA native stopped all 10 shots he faced and has gone 36-for-36 in his four periods of work with the grey and blue.

Stejskal would return to the crease Saturday and present a stellar body of work with 46 saves, but the Knights do have a positive to look at with Urban. The club looks to have a solid backup option for Stejskal if the Minnesota-Duluth commit needs some rest in the final stretch.

Garden State Opponent
Tuesday marks the 12th and final meeting of the year against the Titans. With a win, the Knights can earn a season split with last year’s playoff foes. The Titans lead the series 6-5, but the last meeting in New Jersey went the way of the Knights. On February 6th, A 2-1 decision off a Jordan Strand game-winning-goal made the difference. The clubs met later in the month at Revolution Ice Centre where the Knights opened up a 3-0 lead before eventually winning the tilt, 5-3.

For What It’s Worth
Since the calendar flipped to 2019, the Knights have gone 9-7-3 over 19 games. The Titans have posted an 8-9-1 record in the same stretch.

New Jersey gives up the 19th most goals in the NAHL at 169. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is right in the middle ranking 12th with 144.

Titans leading scorer Ryan Naumovski is two points shy of 100 for his NAHL career.

With the NAHL Knights, Adrian Danchenko has 72 career points after scoring in Saturday’s game against Johnstown. The winger is two shy of tying Paul Maust for 4th in all-time Knights scoring. He is also five points from Kurtis Karlson, who sits 2nd behind only Matthew Kidney (102) in career points while wearing a Knights sweater.

Adrian Danchenko Commits to Alabama-Huntsville

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

With the 2018-19 junior hockey season around the corner, Adrian Danchenko has announced his commitment to the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers for the 2019-20 season. The Chargers are an NCAA division one program playing out of the WCHA.

“Huntsville has a renowned engineering school that is really important to me,” said Danchenko of his home-to-be. “The hockey side is only getting better, and with the coaching staff there, I believe we’ll take a big step with the program.”

The Chargers have been a member of division one hockey since the 1998-99 season. Their first stint in DI came in 1988-92. In the years since, they’ve won their regular season conference title twice, their postseason conference championship twice, and qualified for the NCAA tournament twice at the division one level.

The school was a division II power house between the years of 1993-1997, appearing in four national championships in five seasons, winning two. The most famous among their many successful alumni is current Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot.

For his part, Danchenko has spent years and developing in the Knights hockey program, dating back to the NAPHL stage of his career. After making his NAHL debut with the organization in 2016, Danchenko has gone on to record 18 goals and 30 assists in 118 games played.

“It’s been extremely rewarding to watch Adrian Danchenko grow up in this program,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “From the early days in the NAPHL to coaching him the past two years in the NAHL, he’s consistently been one of the most improved players in our organization. He’s a great example of where hard work and talent can take you, and I know he’s only going to continue to get better.”

Danchenko was a key forward for the Knights last season, more than doubling his NAHL rookie season’s point total, recording 12 goals and 20 assists in 55 regular season games. His efforts earned him a place at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February.

“The NAPHL and the NAHL were the leagues that developed me into the hockey player I am now,” said Danchenko. “That’s thanks to all the great teams and events the league has to offer.”

The impressive season culminated in Danchenko’s selection by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the 2018 USHL Entry Draft.

“The Chargers are getting a big player that can use his speed and vision to make plays happen,” said Danchenko of what he’ll bring to the college game. “I can play both sides of the puck and use my skill up the ice.”

“I know I speak for our entire staff when I say that Alabama-Huntsville is getting a really good player in Adrian,” said Kowal. “He’s worked hard to get to this point, and he’s earned a spot at the top level of college hockey. We thank him for what’s he’s contributed on and off the ice for our program. I wish him the best of luck going forward in hockey and in life.”

“My biggest takeaway in my time with the Knights was that persistence is key, and going through the program you have to step it up to the next level,” said Danchenko. “Playing older players every year made me more mature and has helped me to become a role model and a leader. I feel that I’ve grown not only as a player but as a person too.”

Danchenko is the 18th player from last year’s roster to commit to a college, and the 13th heading to a division one school from that team. The Knights organization thanks Adrian for his many years with their program. They will be eagerly following and rooting for him every step of the way moving forward!

Knights Enter Final Four Looking to Extend Torrid Run

Written By: Nicholas Marotta

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

The Knights touched down in Minnesota Wednesday to enter the final stages of their pursuit of a Robertson Cup. Today they will face the Shreveport Mudbugs in a best-of-three series to determine which of the pair will play for the Robertson Cup on Monday.

After a gritty 3-2 series win over the New Jersey Titans, the Knights swept their way through the Philadelphia Rebels to win the right to represent the East Division in the Final Four. Less than two weeks have passed since the team punched their tickets to Blaine, but how did they earn the trip?  

Not only was the journey carried by a complete team effort, but this postseason run has come off of the back of many strong individual performances.

One key player that immediately stands out is goalie Christian Stoever.  Number 31 has been a wall in the playoffs. In his seven playoff starts, he has allowed less than three goals in five games, including a shutout in a 1-0 victory against the Titans in game four of the first round.  

In the team’s more recent series against Philadelphia, Stoever had a save percentage of 94%.  Even more impressive is that Stoever has had a knack for stepping up in big spots during both series. In round one, facing consecutive elimination games, he produced a shutout in game four, followed by a 49-save effort to win the series.

Rookie forward Jack Olmstead has also been a major contributor during the Knights’ playoff run.  Olmstead has had a point in every Knights playoff game this season, and scored two goals in the team’s second game of their series against Philadelphia. The line of Olmstead, Michael Morrissey, and Matt Kidney are three of the top four scorers in the 2018 playoffs for the Knights.  Olmstead, however, leads the team in points with ten.

Other new faces on the Knights NAHL roster for this season include Gabe Temple, who has three goals in the playoffs, and Tyrone Bronte, who’s notched three goals and three assists so far.  

Even in a season highlighted by great rookie performances, veterans like Reed Robinson and Curtis Carlson have been a strong base for the newer members of the team to rise to the forefront.  

Robinson scored the fourth and final goal in the first game of the team’s series against Philadelphia, while Carlson was able to put the team up 2-1 in their eventual 5-4 victory against the Rebels in game two.  Carlson has scored three other goals in the playoffs, and Robinson another goal and assist.

The Knights defensive end has been equally impressive throughout the postseason. Led by veteran Joey Verkerke and All-East blue-liner Thomas Farrell, the group of rookies has helped the team keep their average goals against at 2.25 throughout the playoffs.  Verkerke, who’s had a keen eye for passing and a knack for blocking shots, has an active four game point streak via four assists.

Tonight’s puck drop against Shreveport will be the team’s first appearance in the Final Four and their second meeting on the season with Shreveport. With a staunch defense and a potent offense, the team is poised for to make a run toward Robertson Cup.

Tune into tonight’s game on www.hockeytv.com and follow along through Knights social media and at www.nahl.com.

 

Recap: Knights Complete Sweep, Punch Ticket to Minnesota

On Monday, the Knights had a chance to check off a lot of team firsts. First-ever Final Four birth in the Robertson Cup Playoffs was chief among their goals, but to do it, they’d have to sweep a team they’d never advanced beyond in the postseason.

The Philadelphia Rebels have been the team to eliminate the Knights in each of the past two seasons, completing sweeps in both years. To return the favor would not only be poetic, but a huge step forward for a Knights team that has hit their stride at the perfect time.

Monday’s action was slow-building. The tension of an elimination game hung heavy as both teams began the evening in an extended test of each other’s ability to trade space up and down the ice. Through the first period starters Ryan Keane and Christian Stoever faced a combined 20 shots.

An early test was stopped by Stoever in an eerily similar play to the  Patric Hornqvist’s no-goal controversy in Sunday’s Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins playoff game. Like the Penguins did the day before, the Rebels drove around the back of the net on a wraparound. Playing the part of both Sidney Crosby and Hornqvist, Alex Frye found himself alone on the right post trying to fire the puck to the net. Instead, Stoever’s left skate slid over and stopped the puck on the goal line. Unlike it’s NHL counterpart, there was no debate as Stoever’s stretch clearly kept the puck from crossing the goal line, robbing the Rebels of a grade-A chance.

Around a minute and a half later, the Knights made Philadelphia pay for the missed opportunity. Down low in the offensive zone, Jeff Bertrand shouldered a puck out of the right corner to Adrian Danchenko. Curling back-handed to the top of the slot, Danchenko fought through a poke check before flipping the puck to his forehand and finding Tyrone Bronte in front of the net. The Aussie center found the puck with his back turned to Keane. While the Rebels attempted to check him out of the crease, Bronte let go a  perfect backhand under the crossbar to beat the sliding Keane to put the Knights up 1-0 at 15:32.

The Rebels pushed back and earned a power play in the final minute of the first. The Knights, after being gashed nearly 40 percent of the time by the Rebels man-advantage during the regular season, entered play without having allowed a single power play goal in games one and two. The streak nearly came to an end in the final seconds of the period, where Stoever was pulled out of the net to the left post, making a save through a screen. The rebound kicked straight down in front of an open right side of the cage. As two Rebels converged to try and bury the equalizer, Thomas Farrell came crashing down, diving and driving the puck clear to the corner to end the period.

Farrell’s heroics were crucial as the Rebels channeled the frustration into a fast start in the second. After each team failed to capitalize on a power play, Philadelphia tilted the ice. From around the 5:00 mark on, the Rebels consistently won board battles, forced mistakes, and extended long shifts in the offensive zone.

Just past six and a half minutes into  the frame, on their second power play of the game, Alex Frye took an entry pass from Ryan Patrick around a defenseman, right to the netfront where he was stoned on a pad save by Stoever. The rebound kicked right to a crashing Patrick who was miraculously robbed on a lounging save by Stoever’s glove to preserve the Knights 1-0 lead.

The goalie was finally bested on a shot from Carson Moniz at 13:36. Hemming a puck in at the left point of the Knights zone, Brandon Stanley tossed a puck to a pinching Nicolas Appendino on the left half wall. Appendino ripped a pass to the top of the slot for a waiting Moniz. With a screen in front, the defenseman fired a puck under the crossbar to even the game at one.

Weathering the Rebels blitz that continued through nearly the rest of the period, the Knights finally broke loose in its final minute. Coming over the red line, Joey Verkerke dropped a puck in deep to the left wing corner of the Rebels zone. Jack Olmstead beat his man to the puck before turning back up ice and cutting to the slot. There a backhand shot attempt was deflected right back to Olmstead. His spinning, second try found Matt Kidney parked to the left of Keane, where he shoveled the puck to the twine to retake the lead.

The surge of a late-period, go-ahead goal refueled the Knights attack. After being hemmed in their own zone for most of the second period, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton grew stronger as the third period wore on. Ryan Keane kept them at bay, making several grade-A saves, robbing the likes of Curtis Carlson and Tyrone Bronte on chances in close. The Rebels counter attack was limited by a steady Knights back check that refused a repeat of the second period.

With just under two minutes remaining, the Rebels pulled their netminder following their timeout. A Rebels icing forced Keane back in the net while the Knights ate more time off the clock. In the period’s final minute, Keane (27 saves on the evening) was able to trade his services for an extra attacker. Following Joey Verkerke hitting the empty net’s post on a long shot down the ice, the Knights ended up icing the puck on an ensuing try down the sheet. A late push in the Knights zone by Philadelphia never created the grade-A look they needed, and the Knights held on to earn the sweep and a ticket to the final four.

Christian Stoever’s stellar efforts on a 39-save night, plus an opportunistic Knights offense are emblematic of how hot the team has become after facing elimination in round one. They will await the winners of the remaining three playoffs series, plus a re-seeding of the last four teams before knowing their opponents. You can follow the remaining games this weekend on hockeytv.com, or by following NAHL.com. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!

 

Game 2: Knights Ride Offense to Wild Win

The second meeting of the Knights and Rebels in the East Division Finals saw the Knights attempting to hand Philadelphia only their second home losing streak of the year. A win would send the Knights back home for game three and four needing one win to advance to the Final Four of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Things got off to rocky start for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cause. The Rebels entered the game on a mission, and imposed with physicality their presence in the offensive zone. It was never more apparent than at four minutes into the competition, when Eric Olson and Adam Peck maintained a bruising shift below the Knights goal line. The pair kept the puck low through heavy board battles, while the Rebels began to make line changes behind the play. Konur Peterson joined in after Peck fed him the puck and left the ice with Olson to complete the change. Peterson kept the puck for an extended period and fought along the wall through multiple Knights before finally curling out in front of the net and ripping a shot at Christian Stoever. Stoever knocked away the offering but the rebound kicked back to Jimmy Glynn who buried the puck for the 1-0 lead.

The Knights responded. Just past the halfway point of the period, after minutes of quick rushes up the ice, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton capitalized on their building momentum. After Blake Kryska tangled for Luke Robinson rebound, Michael Morrissey corralled the loose puck at the top of the offensive zone and found Jack Olmstead on the left half wall. Olmstead skimmed the puck to Matt Kidney on the bottom of the left circle before Kidney sent the return pass back to Olmstead in the slot. Seeing traffic in front, Olmstead wheeled beneath the right side of the cage and swung back to the bottom of the left circle. There, he turned and fired a sharp-angle shot that found the mere inches of space between Rebels goalie Eli Billing and the post, burying the tying score at 11:23.

Channeling the momentum, the Knights came storming back with just under three minutes later. Joey Verkerke flipped a puck through center ice to Lincoln Hatten just above the Rebels blue line. Hatten chipped it perfectly to the oncoming Curtis Carlson to his left, where Carlson picked it up and drove to the net wide, around a back-checking Bryant Gunn. As Carlson one-handed the puck to the front of the net, Billing threw a poke check on the puck, freeing it from the blade, but kicking it right off the skate of Gunn and back through the five-hole for the Knights first lead.

It would take Philadelphia several minutes of near-escapes from a suddenly humming Knights attack to re-gain their footing. With about three minutes to play in the period, they dug in. The Knights, pressured heavily in their own zone, took to icing the puck consecutively to limit more opportunities from developing. As time ticked away in the first, they found themselves being backed up into their own zone repeatedly, extending long shifts. The Rebels made them pay with just under 26 seconds left in the period.

From behind the net, Rebels postseason points leader Brandon Stanley flipped a puck to the left side of Stoever’s cage. From there, Luke Radetic pushed the puck to the netfront for Alex Frye who jarred it between Carlson, Luke Robinson and Blake Kryska until it popped awkwardly over the shoulders of Stoever, landing in front of the the right post. At this point Stanley had looped back from behind the net and to the bottom of the slot, where he located and popped the loose change home to even the score at two.

Backed by the late-period tally, Philadelphia began the next frame on a hot streak. They pushed possession and drew two penalties in the opening minutes of the second. The Knights responded with two successful penalty kills and several more solid saves by Stoever.

With the Rebels momentum spurned, the Knights suddenly re-gained their own, just prior to the halfway point of the stanza. In a play for the season highlight reel, Adrian Danchenko cleared a puck through traffic on his own right half wall by hammering a puck high off of the glass. Soaring through the air, it came down to the stick of Tyrone Bronte, hitting him in stride, allowing him to settle it just before gaining Rebels blue line. As he fired into Philadelphia territory, Bronte fed Jeff Bertrand on his left wing to finish a 2-on-1 rush. Bertrand let go a shot that scorched through the pads of Billing to give the Knights a 3-2 lead at 9:56.

Two and a half minutes later Bronte would return, this time off the efforts of Blake Kryska to rattle a puck around the board of his own end, followed by Bertrand who chopped it free to Bronte exiting the zone. Bronte would weave his way over the left side of the Rebels line before firing a shot off the body of Kolby Vegara on a rebound that came right back to the Australian forward. With the puck re-gathered, Bronte moved in and ripped a puck inside the right post to build a 4-2 lead, chasing Billing in favor of game one starter Ryan Keane.

The Rebels pushed back down two, forcing their way to their third power play of the period just shy of the 15:00 mark. The penalty came off a failed Knights breakout. Off a turnover, Eric Olson walked in on Stoever. Michael Morrissey raced back and hooked Olson to hinder his shot, but the chance still made it’s way to Stoever who made a crucial save falling forward.

The penalty kill continued its solid work on the penalty that followed, but Stoever would rise again as it’s best member. With under 30 seconds left in the Rebels man-advantage, Alex Frye fired a shot at Stoever that kicked over to an open Carson Moniz on the left circle. Stoever sprawled forward to meet him, sending Moniz tumbling to the ice, but not before he impressively centered a pass to Olson in the slot. Olson flipped a wrister on, only to be robbed by Stoever jumping back the opposite way.

Boosted by their third kill, the Knights pushed back into the final minute of the frame. Just prior to the 19:00 mark, the Rebels attempted to catch Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a change with a home run pass out of their zone that missed an open Konur Peterson. Out of the net, Stoever turned the puck back up ice to Michael Morrissey who lofted a long pass from his blue line to Matt Kidney hovering above the Rebels zone. Kidney’s centering effort to a crashing Luke Robinson was denied by the Rebels back check, but Kidney hopped back into the right wing corner to pressure the puck back up the wall to Morrissey. Morrissey returned the puck to Kidney down low who laced a perfect pass to Jack Olmstead on his off-wing in the low, right side of the slot. Olmstead fired his second goal of both the game and the postseason  across Keane to build a three-score advantage.

Placed in a significant hole to start the third, the Rebels fought tooth and nail to claw their way back-and they very nearly did. As Wilkes-Barre/Scranton moved to protect their lead, the Rebels got their offense rolling again.

The first goal of the period was recorded by the largely the same personnel that scored the Rebels second goal of the game. Through a center ice exchange with Jimmy Glynn, set up by Luke Radetic, Brandon Stanley raced in over the right side of the Knights blue line. Turning in front of the back-checking Joey Verkerke, Stanley launced an absolute rocket, even losing his balance after he let it go with such force, that beat Stoever inside the left post trimming the Knights lead to two just 4:05 in.

The fourth Rebels goal game eight minutes later, when Aaron Maguyon used his speed to give his team’s rally even more fuel. Following a nice save by Keane, Ryan Patrick cleared the puck up the left wing to a racing Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon turned it back to the trailing Patrick on the left side of Knights ice. Playing keep away through a check and an extended tie up on the left circle, Patrick handed it back to Maguyon who just beat Curtis Carlson back to the net, opened the pads of Stoever with a move, and squeezed just under the pads to bring the Rebels back within one.

The Knights, shaken but not beaten, responded with defense. Their backcheck combined with Stoever forced the Rebels back, even drawing a penalty in their own zone which they used to eat two more minutes off the clock. Following timeout with just under two minutes remaining, the Rebels pulled Keane for the extra attacker. The Knights dug in. With the clock ticking all the way down to 13 seconds left, they iced the puck just wide of the open net.

After another timeout, the Knights prepared for one last Rebels push. Morrissey wong the ensuing faceoff and played it to his right wing, but the clearing effort to the top of the zone was intercepted by Carson Moniz. The owner of a deadly shot and plenty of space, Moniz lined and fired a slap shot that Joey Verkerke dove down and blocked out of the slot. The puck came up to the left half-wall, where the Rebels took a second shot that was blocked to the corner by Morrissey. Thomas Farrell found and cleared the puck down the ice to secure the team their wild game-two victory.

The Knights will return home to face the Rebels tomorrow, April 30th at 5:00 PM EDT up 2-0 in the series. A single win will send the Knights to Minnesota for the Final Four of the Roberts Cup Playoffs. Tune in on hockeytv.com and stay up to date with the Robertson Cup Playoffs by following Knights social media, and visiting both www.wbsknights.com and www.nahl.com!

 

 

 

Game 5: Knights Knock off Titans to Advance to Round 2

Sunday’s winner-take-all match up between the Knights and Titans lived up to its billing with high intensity from the opening puck drop. In hostile territory, the Knights aimed to advance with their first playoff series win in the organization’s short NAHL history.

The team received exactly the kick start it needed when Reed Robinson notched his first goal of the postseason just 5:39 into the first. Having played each other nine times over the last month, the Knights and Titans have become familiar with some of each other’s tendencies. Robinson, pressuring in the low right wing while the Titans attempted to coordinate a breakout, hawked a pass from behind the net at the front door, and proceeded to rip a shot through Titans goalie Matt Ladd for the 1-0 lead.

For much of the first, the Knights battled hard and succeeded in driving pucks and possession in the offensive zone, while executing fast, and crisp breakouts out of their own end. They were backstopped again by stellar play from Christian Stoever. Fresh off a 51-save shutout in game four, Stoever was tremendous in net once more, fending off a few early odd-man rushes from New Jersey, on his way to 14 saves in the first.

In the period’s final minute, the Knights top line moved out of their own zone on a quick rush up the left wing. Jack Olmstead flipped a puck ahead to Michael Morrissey who started a 2-on-1 with Matt Kidney over the Titans blue line. Kidney led Morrissey to the left circle, where the latter backhanded a perfect set up back to Matt Kidney who had looped back through the slot. Kidney, playing once again in his hometown, darted across the face of Ladd before putting home his first goal of the playoffs, moving the Knights up 2-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first.

Spurred on by their early success, the Knights picked up where they left off in the opening period with a swift attack that drew an early penalty in the second. Late in the ensuing power play, Reed Robinson fired into the offensive zone where he threw a puck back to a trailing Tyrone Bronte. After accepting a return pass, Robinson spotted a wide-open Blake Kryska at the top of the zone.  With ice in front of him, Kryska walked Robinson’s pass through the slot before burying a wrister by Ladd for the 3-0 lead at 6:09.

The Titans finally got on the board just prior to the halfway point of the second. Jimmy Dowd Jr. flipped a puck through center ice from the left side of his own blue line. A savvy move by Matt Cameron caused the Knights to over commit to the winger, while the speedy Ryan Naumovski took the puck in over the right wing of the attacking end. Beating the backcheck to the bottom of the zone, Naumovski flipped a puck off a body in front and past Stoever to cut the Knights lead to 3-1.

The flood gates opened in the second half of the period for New Jersey as the Titans began an onslaught of chances and shifts in the Knights end of the ice. Stoever stood tall as the Knights attempted to regroup, and the score remained 3-1 at the end of 40 minutes of play.

On a carryover stretch of 4-on-4 hockey to start the third, the Titans turned to their speed to take advantage of the extra space on the ice. Nick Boyagian started a breakout with a long pass from behind his own net to Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler criss-crossed behind the lightning-fast Wade Novak as the pair crossed the blue line. The defenseman had just enough room to bank a pass of the boards behind Stoever’s net, which pinballed perfectly to a crashing Novak. With his third goal of the playoffs, Novak beat Stoever to the back post, narrowing the score to 3-2 just 50 seconds into the period.

With the momentum reversed heavily against them, the Knights needed to come up with a fast response. On a sequence that appeared to be going the wrong way for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Joey Verkerke came up with a game-turning play.

After a Knights defender fell down to allow Ryan Naumovski a seemingly clear path to the net, Verkerke made a diving block through the low slot, pushing the puck into the corner. Regaining his feet, Verkerke pushed the puck back up the left wall to Justin Engelkes who laced a perfect home-run pass to the streaking Adrian Danchenko up the right wing. Danchenko received the puck just prior to the red line, and burned the Titans last back-checker to create a breakaway. In alone on Ladd, Danchenko ripped a perfect shot top shelf, stick-side to regain the two-goal lead just under three minutes into the third.

With the multi-goal advantage once more, the Knights quickly went into a defensive-mode, easing slightly off the attack and placing trust in their defense and their red-hot goaltender to seal the victory. They held the score through the bulk of the period to force the Titans hand late.

Down two with just over three minutes remaining, Matt Ladd left the crease for the extra attacker. The Knights were placed under siege as the Titans, who had already forced several icings just minutes prior, maintained the offensive zone on long shifts. Their shots made it to the net, but not by Stoever, who made one great stop  after another on his way to 49 saves for the evening, and finishing with 129 on the weekend.

The final highlight came after Stoever leapt out of his stance to knock a high shot away with the stick, with just under two minutes to play. Lincoln Hatten’s clearing effort just missed New Jersey’s open net, keeping tired Knights legs on the ice for another faceoff.

This time, Michael Morrissey won the puck cleanly off the draw and flipped it back to the corner for Thomas Farrell. Farrell lifted the puck up the side-wall to Hatten, who barreled his way out of the zone. Playing an expert game of keep-away through three poke-check attempts, Hatten skated the puck to just above the Titans blue line where he arched a backhanded shot perfectly into the open net.

The Knights fifth goal secured the game-five win, as well as their first series win in their Robertson Cup Playoff history. They will move on to take on the Philadelphia Rebels in the East Division Finals, another best-of-five series, beginning later this week. The schedule will be released shortly.

Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all news and updates!