Trying to avoid a sweep on opening weekend, the Knights met the Tomahawks for the second straight afternoon inside the Revolution Ice Centre.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jumped out to an early start, applying a few quick chances on Johnstown netminder Cooper Lukenda in the game’s first six minutes. In his first NAHL start, the Canadian goalie was up to the task, stopping each of the Knights early offerings. Like the Knights the day before, the Tomahawks went on to strike on their very first shot of the game.
Just shy of the six minute mark, Alex Wilkins zipped a pass to Christian Gorscak who found a wide open Oliver Benwell in front, where the latter ripped a puck past Knights starter Samuel Vyletelka, who was just inches from making the save.
The 1-0 lead kicked off an avalanche of Johnstown pressure. The Tomahawks added quickly to their shot total, peppering Vyletelka and drawing penalties.
On the third Knights infraction, Johnstown made them pay. With the man advantage, Carson Brière fed a puck to Cameron Hebert, who fired one across to Samuel Solensky. Solensky, a thorn in the Knights side throughout his NAHL career, ripped a shot past his fellow Slovak in Vyletelka for the 2-0 Johnstown lead.
In the second, the Knights would begin the period in earnest, again picking up pressure in the offensive zone. They were finally rewarded at 4:44. Set up by Joey Verkerke and Zak Currie, Jacob Badal ripped a sharp-angle laser from the bottom of the right circle that bested Lukenda to cut the Johnstown lead in half.
The Tomahawks would take less two minutes to answer. Following another Knights penalty, the Johnstown power play struck again when Carson Brière found some space on the left circle. The ’99 forward juggled the puck around a block attempt and ripped it home for the 3-1 lead. Samuel Solensky and Cameron Hebert picked up helpers on the score.
Under three minutes later, Brière and Solensky would strike again, when the former found the latter on a 2-on-1 for Johnstown’s fourth goal. Dominick Posta was credited with the secondary assist that sprung the odd-man rush, giving the Tomahawks a 4-1 lead heading into the third.
In the game’s final stanza, penalties dominated the pace of play. During a four-on-four play just three and a half minutes into the period, Christian Gorscak found a turnover after a Knights player lost an edge in his own zone. Walking in with pressure right on his heels, Gorscak fired the puck over Vyletelka’s shoulder to create a 5-1 advantage.
The score would hold up through a slew of penalties committed by both sides through the remainder of play. At the final horn, Johnstown would head home with four points in their first two games. In the win, his first in the NAHL, Cooper Lukenda stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal for the Tomahawks. Samuel Vyletelka made 42 saves in the loss.
The Knights will look to bounce back when they head to Blaine, Minnesota later this week for the NAHL Showcase. Their first game will take place Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT against the Topeka Pilots. Catch that game on www.hockeytv.com, and stay tuned to Knights social media for all Knights news on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!