Photo: Jessica Kovalcin
On Saturday, the Knights EHL affiliate traveled to so SoNo Ice House to take on the Central division’s Connecticut Rough Riders. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went with the aim of avenging two losses to the Rough Riders suffered on home ice nearly two months ago.
The contest did not begin in an ideal manner. Alex Rowella continued his success against his former organization with a goal at 6:22, set up on a power play by Nicholas Kukuris and Cullen Kane. The tally was Rowella’s 16th of the season and fifth against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2017-18.
Connecticut took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play at 11:26 when Nicholas Kukuris bested Knights starting goalie Thomas Walker on assists from Stephen Pantera and Brendan Dowler. The 2-0 lead held for the remainder of the first as the Rough Riders limited Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to just four shots on goalie Ryan Bonnvie.
Down two goals entering the middle frame, the Knights offense awoke. Anthony Starzi put the Knights on the board at 4:52 into the period with helpers from Emerson Emery and Jake Fuss. Starzi would strike again at 18:50 (Nate Chuckran, Fuss) to tie the game with his 16th tally of the year.
The rally was enabled by the Knights defensive efforts in the second period. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton turned away all chances sent their way as Thomas Walker saved all 20 shots he faced, while the Knights penalty kill went two-for-two to hold the Rough Riders off the board.
In the third, a quick start propelled the Knights to their first lead of the game. At 8:57 Tyler Nielsen put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ahead 3-2, with assists from Chuckran and Alex Morawski. On the ensuing face off, Nicholas Kukuris responded with his second goal of the contest (August Nyblom, Connor Boyce) to tie the score at three.
Jake Fuss countered with goal number 23 at the 10:40 off Starzi’s 14th and Deny Arkhypenko’s ninth assists of the season, respectively. Arkhypenko then rotated into the goal column with Fuss and Starzi setting up the Ukrainian forward for a power play score one minute later.
Down 5-3, Connecticut received a late boost from Kukuris, who completed a hat trick at 15:18. Assists were credited to Cullen Kane and Colin O’Connor on Kukuris’ sixth goal in his last three games played.
In the final minute of play, Jake Fuss put any thought of a Connecticut rally to bed, as he picked up his second tally of the contest assisted by Starzi at 19:33. In his last two outings Fuss has four goals and five assists to go with Starzi’s 4-3-7 in that same span.
At the buzzer, the Knights recorded their ninth win of the season, and second in a row. They’ll look to keep their momentum going with a rematch against the Rough Riders at 3:00 PM EST this afternoon. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Check back www.wbsknights.com and www.easternhockeyleague.org for all news and updates!