Tag Archives: Blaine

Knights to Face US National Team Development Program in Blaine Showcase

In September, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will make their annual trip the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota to compete in the NAHL’s annual Blaine Showcase. This year comes with a unique and exciting opponent. The Knights will be playing the US National Team Development Program’s 17-team in an exhibition on Saturday, September 22nd at 7:00 PM CDT | 8:00 PM EDT.

The USNTDP is made up of the most elite junior hockey players in the Untied States. The program competes both at home as well as international tournaments every year. Among the scores of their impressive alumni are Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Cam Fowler, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Brady and Matthew Tkachuk. Jack Hughes was the 17-team’s captain a year ago before jumping to the 18-team last season. He is an early favorite to be selected at the top of the 2019 NHL Draft.

“To have the opportunity to represent the NAHL in a game against the US National Development Program is an honor,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “It’s as strong of a measuring stick as any team could ask for. We feel that by having our team compete against some of the best under 17 players in the world, we give them an opportunity to showcase their skills against elite talent. We’re very excited for the challenge.”

Prior to their showdown with the USNTDP, the Knights will play the Topeka Pilots on Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT | 2:00 pm EDT and the Brookings Blizzard on Thursday the 20th at 1:30 pm CDT | 2:30 EDT. They will not play Friday in lieu of their game against the 17-team Saturday.

The Knights will attempt build on last year’s Showcase winning percentage after they finished 3-1. The team is just over a month and a half away from the start of the he regular season.

For the full Blaine Showcase schedule, click here

For all Knights news and happenings, follow @WBSKnights on Instagram and Twitter, Like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Hockey on Facebook, and visit www.wbsknights.com!

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.

 

Engelkes Powers Knights to Comeback Win

Photo Credit: NAHL.com

Knights Second-Round Pick Leads the Charge on Day Three of Showcase

Round three of the Knights Blaine road trip had them meet the Minnesota Wilderness at the Schwan Super Rink 4. With both teams coming off a loss, urgency was to be expected in the game’s opening minutes.

Following puck drop, both sides began a see-saw battle of possession, seeing each forecheck trade offensive zones, a theme that would prove prevalent throughout the game. The Wilderness were first to strike off Blake Bride’s 2nd goal of the season, assisted by Andrew Troy and Eric Gotz at 3:58.

Tyrone Bronte responded 45 seconds later, tying the game for the Knights with a shot in close, created by crisp passing from Adrian Danchenko and Jack Olmstead. Olmstead’s assist extended his point streak to four games.

Eric Gotz wouldn’t let the tie live out the period. The Minnesota defenseman took advantage of a power play and ripped a point shot through traffic, besting Knights goalie Christian Stoever for the 2-1 Wilderness lead at 15:48.

The second frame saw an increase in Minnesota’s forechecking pressure. Their attack successfully set up in the Knights zone on numerous occasions, finally breaking through at 12:41 when Gino Lucia hammered a puck to twine on an assist from Gotz. Though the Knights were able to outshoot the Wilderness by one in the period, they were consistently flustered by Ryan Fanti’s solid goaltending.

Finally, at 16:27 the Knights answered to cut the lead to one. After Paul Cimilluca advanced the puck down low to Justin Engelkes, the rookie fought through multiple bodies under the end line to find Matt Kidney alone in the slot. The Knights veteran ripped home the team’s second goal, serving as a crucial boost to their momentum.

Down by one entering the third, the Knights elevated their execution on the attack. After struggling through their first two power play opportunities of the afternoon, Wilkes-Barrre/Scranton cashed in when Lincoln Hatten slammed a puck by Fanti for the tying goal at 8:53 (Olmstead, Kryska).

Minnesota wouldn’t take kindly to losing their lead. They forced two Knights penalties in the following three minutes, and were able to generate a handful of quality chances on net. Christian Stoever answered each and the penalty kill stood strong in their final two deployments of the day.

As the clock wound down, Justin Engelkes turned up ice. With under five minutes to play, the Verona, Wisconsin native’s acceleration carried him through neutral ice. Just as he gained the blue line, he let go a snipe that found its way past multiple defenders and Fanti for the go-ahead goal, Engelkes’ first in the NAHL.

The Knights defense would grind down the clock to the final minute when Minnesota pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The Wilderness again mounted quality chances, but none that beat Stoever, as the rookie goaltender made a fine kick save in the game’s final seconds to close out the win.

The Knights will complete their NAHL showcase with a 10:30 AM EDT meeting with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays tomorrow morning. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @wbsknights on twitter for live updates.

 

Knights Take First Loss Against Shreveport

Despite valiant effort in net, Knights can’t overcome Mudbugs

Day two of the NAHL Showcase saw the Knights square off with the Shreveport Mudbugs, one of two team’s younger than the Knights in the North American Hockey League.

Fresh off a 3-1 victory over the Minot Minotauros, the Mudbugs carried an up-tempo energy into the first period of their second day in Blaine.

Early pressure from Shreveport tested the resolve of Knights goalie David Tomeo, who fended off 13 shots in the first period. In his second start, the West Caldwell, New Jersey native stood on his head early and often.

The Knights were denied on an early power play opportunity in the first, but returned the favor late in the period. Neither team was able to generate a goal in the first 20 minutes, as Mudbugs goalie Gustavs Grigals matched Tomeo in a duel of sharp saves.

The second period saw the Knights establish more of an offensive zone presence as the team drew an early penalty, but they were unsuccessful on the ensuing advantage. The Knights appeared to score at 7:51 through a pile of bodies in front of Grigals, but the officials deemed that the net had come off its moorings. They also ruled that this had been done purposely by Shreveport, resulting in a penalty shot.

Jack Olmstead took the puck down the ice and beat Grigals for the game’s first goal and the 1-0 Knights lead. With the tally, Olmstead extends his scoring streak to three games.

Spurred on by the score, the Knights continued to pressure Shreveport in their own zone, but were continually turned away by Grigals. Off the back of their goaltending and steady defense, the Mudbugs forced a two-on-one break in which Jack Jaunich slid Jordan Fader a perfect pass to beat Tomeo to draw the score even at one at 14:57.

On a power play opportunity four minutes later, Cameron Cook and Brendan Gysbers’ found Cole Quisenberry, who willed a sharp-angle shot past Tomeo for the 2-1 Shreveport lead.

The third period saw both teams gridlocked in a back-and-forth transition game, but the Mudbugs were able to generate better chances off Knights mistakes. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton successfully killed an early checking from behind infraction and a mid-period five-on-three, but struggled to sustain possessions in the offensive zone. Their best chances came off the rush, but Grigals was able to answer every challenge sent his way.

Unable to find the tying-goal on a power play in the game’s final five minutes, the Knights pulled Tomeo for the extra attacker with less than two minutes to play. The team generated several solid chances and forced multiple Shreveport icings, but the Mudbugs held on to grind out their third victory of the season.

The Knights will return to the ice tomorrow against the Minnesota Wilderness at 2:15 pm EST. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @WBSKnights on Twitter for live in-game updates!

 

Knights Charge through Day One of Showcase

Photo Credit: NAHL.com

Led by Steady Stoever, Knights withstand Bulls to improve to 3-0

The NAHL Showcase kicked off Wednesday, and in the Knights third trip to the event, they looked to stay undefeated on the young season.

Their first opponent, the Amarillo Bulls, also entered competition without a loss. Things started quickly for the Bulls. At 5:48, Michael McPherson put a pass from the corner on a line back to the top of the slot to find an open Marcus Chorney who fired a shot past Knights goalie Christian Stoever.

Stoever, in his first start with the Knights, didn’t blink. A third-round pick in this year’s NAHL Entry Draft, the ’00 goaltender made a slew of impressive saves throughout the afternoon to keep Amarillo flustered, even during their heaviest shifts of offensive pressure.

The Knights attack got its start in the second half of the opening frame. After minutes of sustained offensive pressure, Tyrone Bronte continued his stellar start to the season. The Australian import extended his point streak to three games after he ripped a Jack Olmstead offering off the doorstep and past Amarillo goalie Jason Grande.

34 seconds later, Matt Kidney led Curtis Carlson to the net where Carlson slipped his way around Grande for the 2-1 lead.

Fueled by their physicality and improved puck possession, the Knights continued to apply pressure in the game’s middle frame. They were rewarded in the period’s first minute when Mike Morrissey and Reed Robinson drove hard to the and planted a rebound beyond the reach of Grande to build a Knights 3-1 lead.

Robinson was credited the goal while Morrissey collected the primary assist, with the secondary serving as Blake Kryska’s first point of the season. Robinson and Morrissey’s battling was a staple of the Knights consistent attack through the second, with both players displaying their size and veteran status by winning up and down the ice.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense, in-step with its quick-paced forecheck, won puck battles, made exit passes quickly, and kept the middle of the ice clear. Only in the second period’s final five minutes was the unit heavily tested in the form of two power plays in which they held Amarillo scoreless. Though they did not find the net, the Bulls power play pressure would be set the table for the third period.

In the final 20 minutes of regulation, Amarillo would regain the speed and pacing that enabled them to score the game’s opening goal. The Bulls consistency on the attack built as the clock wound down, while the Knights struggled to clear their own zone.

The culmination of Amarillo’s pressure and earlier power play efforts would converge at the 11:27 mark of the third period. Colin Price and Alex Truscott would combine to generate a loose puck in front of Stoever that was ultimately squeezed through by Jon Russell for the power play goal.

The score brought the Bulls within one, and the momentum fully to their cause. Despite this, the Knights defense and goaltending made plays when they had to, keeping their lead into the game’s final two minutes.

It was as the Bulls began to contemplate pulling their goalie for the extra attacker that they took a late penalty for head contact. In the game’s final minute, down by one, they had no choice but to trade their goalie for just a fifth skater.

With the crease vacant, Amarillo fought valiantly to tie the game. They were largely successful in keeping play in the offensive zone for the remainder of regulation, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense, coupled with Stoever withstood Amarillo’s rally long enough to secure the win.

Stoever earned his first victory in his Knights regular season debut, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced. Though he has had a head start on most of the league, Knights forward Tyrone Bronte is third in the NAHL in scoring with two goals and three assists through three games played.

The Knights will take their 3-0 record into a contest with the Shreveport Mudbugs tomorrow at 12:30 pm EST. The game can be viewed at HockeyTV.com. For real-time updates, follow @WBSKnights on Twitter and visit www.nahl.com/scores.