Tag Archives: Curtis Carlson

Knights Captain Curtis Carlson Commits to Nichols Bison

The Knights return home from Minnesota this week marked an end to an era of sorts, as the team will see five 97-born players move onto college next season. All five have been instrumental to the program’s growth in the NAHL since the team’s arrival in 2015-16. One of the longest-tenured Knights among that group, and the most recent captain, Curtis Carlson, has announced he will attend Nichols College in the Commonwealth Coast Conference to play NCAA DIII hockey.

Carlson, who was briefly a member of the Knights inaugural 2015-16 NAHL roster, returned to the team full time in 2016-17 after developing in the NA3HL. He improved each year to become a centerpiece to a Knights team that just earned its first trip to a Robertson Cup Semifinals. Carlson’s next step will be to join the Nichols Bison, a DIII school located in Massachusetts this fall. The Bison are fresh off an NCAA Quarterfinals finish, their fourth NCAA tournament berth in the last ten years.

“They’re very family-oriented,” said Carlson of his future home. “Through the recruiting process, they reached out to my mom as well as myself, and that really gave me the feeling that they’re very family-oriented, and you know, that’s a great fit for me, as I’m family-oriented as well.”

The Bison are led by head coach Parker Burgess, a St. Thomas alum who has guided Nichols to a record of 50-10-8 in his first two seasons on the job. Carlson is excited to lend his talents to the program.

“I bring dynamic offense, and a lot of speed to the table-a fan favorite right? he said laughing. “I just bring a lot of offense and a lot of speed to the team. Hopefully, in a few years, I can bring leadership as well.”

Leadership is a role Carlson has become familiar with this season, after rising to the captaincy in his second full season with the Knights at the NAHL level. He was voted captain for 2017-18 by his teammates and was joined by long-time Knights veteran Michael Morrissey (Colby College), and NAHL journeyman Mike Gelatt (Skidmore College) as assistants.

“Curtis is a lead-by-example guy,” said Kowal. “He’s a highly competitive player and someone who’s committed to doing things the right way.  He won a lot of respect in this locker room and from our staff with the amount of effort he puts into improving his game and the type of teammate he is. He’s the guy that will do just about anything to help improve his team.”

“It’s helped me look at things from a different perspective,” said Carlson of wearing the chief letter on his sweater this season. “You get a lot of different points of view from other people. Most importantly it’s developed me into a better person, mainly for that same reason. Being the older guy that everyone can come talk to with their problems, whether its on the ice, at home, and whatnot. It made me grow up more off the ice.”

On the ice, Carlson excelled in creating big plays in the Knights push to the Roberston Cup semifinals this year. He recorded a career-high 24 goals through the regular season and playoffs, to go along with 20 assists. His hockey IQ led him to be a fixture on both sides of special teams play, recording one short-handed goal and five power play tallies and four assists in 2017-18. His impressive play resulted in his naming to the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament where he recorded two goals in two games with the East Division’s team.

“With his experience, his nose for the puck, and his speed, we felt comfortable putting Curtis out there in all situations,” said Kowal. “He’s a versatile player who consistently delivered big plays in big moments for us and that’s exactly what we want and expect from our veterans.”

Playing 135 games in the North American Hockey League over the past three seasons has given Carlson plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent while building his game. He attributes this time to sharpening his focus.

“Playing at this level has prepared me by teaching me what you need to do to become an impact player in the North American Hockey League,” he said. “The North American Hockey League is one of the best junior leagues in the country. It teaches you to show up every day and try to get better. If you’re not getting better, there’s always somebody else getting better that’s trying to take your spot, whether it’s in your locker room or in another team’s locker room. Knowing that really helped me keep the right attitude and focus coming into work every day.”

Carlson’s competitiveness did not prohibit his ability to take in and appreciate the finer moments of his journey. Through his many games, he made his fair share of memories.

“I’ll give you my two favorites,” he said. “My first one was obviously winning the East Division and sweeping the Philly Rebels this year. We got swept by them the year before, so to return the favor was unbelievable. I know for a fact it was a great feeling the older guys, the guys that have been a year or two. That same feeling was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had playing junior hockey.

“The other I think would be all the road trips I’ve had with the guys, especially going to Alaska two years in a row. You kind of form together as a team in Alaska. You gel a little bit, whether it’s on the ice, or at the hotel by the river in Kenai, or taking a walk in Fairbanks. It’s just about how the guys gel and I felt guys really connected with each other, so that’s I think a really cool second to go along with the first.”

His fondness for his team extended to his head coach. In each of the past two seasons, Kowal was the head man from which Carlson absorbed what he felt were the most valuable lessons.

“TK has really made me the man I am today,” he said. “Without him I don’t think I’d be going to this school. He believed in me when nobody else did. He’s been my mentor the last two and a quarter years here.”

“Curtis Carlson is a great example of what we’re here for, and what the NAHL is here for,” said Kowal. “He was one of our original NAHL guys. He’s a player who was given an opportunity to play high-level junior hockey. He worked for it, he earned his place here, and not only that, he became a great player at this level. We’re happy we were a part of his journey, and we’re proud of how far he’s come. I wish him nothing but the best of luck.”

The Knights congratulate Curtis on his commitment and join coach Kowal in thanking him for all his hard work and upholding the Knights standard. The Knights wish Curtis the best of luck in all his future endeavors!

Knights Fall to Shreveport to End Great Season

Photo: John Elftmann/NAHL

On Saturday, in their 70th game of the year, the Knights were faced with their third contest with win-or-go home stakes. Wins in the first two such games gave them confidence heading into their battle with the Shreveport Mudbugs. 

Out again for a stone-cold goalie showdown was Christian Stoever for the Knights and Jaxon Castor for the Mudbugs. Their game one meeting produced the third star for Stoever and top star for Castor following Shreveport’s 2-0 victory Friday. 

In front of both skated 18 teammates hungry to advance to the first Robertson Cup Championship in their respective teams’ short histories.

After being battered through the third period in their game one loss, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton erupted off of game two’s opening puck drop, taking speed and physicality to Shreveport in the game’s first eight minutes. Taking six of the game’s first seven shots, the Knights had the Mudbugs on their heels through much of the first 10 minutes. Castor withstood the early push to allow his team early room for error. 

Just shy of the 9:00 mark, the Mudbugs awoke. Their response was their trademark, grinding forecheck trapping the Knights for consecutive shifts in their own zone. 

Though the tables had suddenly turned, Christian Stoever did not. The netminder maintained his steady play, turning away nine-straight shots before the Knights dug out of their own zone late in the period. 

On a late push back into the attacking zone, Curtis Carlson and Reed Robinson nearly found the game’s first goal, just left of the Shreveport net. Castor reached back just enough to bat away the puck. At the end of of a see-saw first, the game was locked in a scoreless tie.

Carlson, Robinson, and Hatten, slighted by their near miss at the end of the first, hit the ice hard in the opening minute of the second frame. On the forecheck Reed Robinson forced a puck up the left wing boards, back to Joey Verkerke at the point. Verkerke fed Carlson in the middle of the slot, where the Knights captain dragged his way around a man, freeing himself in front of the net. With his final move in the effort to beat Castor, Carlson’s handle on the puck came free to Lincoln Hatten. The Texas winger scooped up the loose puck and buried it for his second goal of the postseason, just 53 seconds into the period. 

With the boost of an early strike and their first lead of the series, the Knights hit the gas pedal. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, the team took command of the pace of play, drawing three penalties and spending ample time over the offensive blue line. 

Castor stood tall, keeping the puck out of the net through eight more Knights shots. The vaunted Shreveport penalty kill did their part in keeping the Knights power play off the board. 

With just over two minutes remaining, the Mudbugs pushed back. Roberts Baranovskis put a shot on net from the right circle, pulling Stoever out of the crease in the process of making the save. The rebound kicked over to Brendan VanSweden on the left circle. Taking a shot at a seemingly open net, VanSweden was robbed by a sprawling Thomas Farrell, negating the Mudbugs best chance of the period.

At 18:43 in, the Knights took their first penalty to set up a stretch of 4-on-4 play.

In the waining minute of the period, they took advantage of the extra space and drove into the offensive zone. On the left half-wall Curtis Carlson poked a puck down low to Jack Olmstead in the corner. Olmstead centered the puck to the slot for a crashing Shay Donovan. In alone, Donovan was robbed when Castor stacked his pads in a sprawling kick save, robbing the Knights of a 2-0 lead. Through 40 minutes they would instead have to settle for a one-goal advantage. 

In the third, Shreveport finally began to break through. A centering pass from the right wing corner off the stick of Jordan Fader was poked by a crashing Ryan Burnett through the save attempt of Stoever. The tying score at 5:02 brought juice to the Shreveport attack. 

On their second power play of the game, the Mudbugs cashed in on a mad scramble in front of Stoever’s net after the goalie made a quick stick save. Gueorgui Feduolov found the bouncing puck and squeezed it inside the right post to take a 2-1 lead at 7:14. 

A five-minute major assessed to the Knights for a boarding at 7:39 touched off a series of costly penalties. For seven minutes and 44 seconds the Knights were shorthanded, as they were given four penalties over the span. They killed them all, including two stretches down 5-on-3. 

Emerging without allowing a goal, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still had life down just one with 4:37 remaining in the third. Their final push included over a minute with the extra attacker on, but they could not solve Castor and Shreveport’s defense. 

At the horn, the Knights season ended with a 2-1 defeat. A great season ended two games too soon, but in the coming days the Knights will reflect on a hard-fought year that won accolades, respect, and most importantly advancement to the next level in both college and junior hockey.

The team will return home one last time Tuesday following the conclusion of the NAHL’s Robertson Cup. To all Knights fans, players, families, and staff, thank you for a fantastic season! 

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.

 

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!

 

 

 

Knights Open Round Two with Commanding Win

Fresh off their first NAHL playoff series win, the Knights went to Aston, Pennsylvania Friday with their sights set on another challenge: beat an old nemesis. The Philadelphia Rebels have met the Knights in the postseason for each of the last three seasons. The Rebels were 6-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the playoffs before puck drop Thursday night. They won this year’s regular season tilt 8-4. For the Knights to achieve their goal in toppling the two-time East division finalists, game one was a pivotal chance to set the early tempo for the best-of-five series.

The game began as a one-sided affair and it was the Knights who seized total control. Following a brief stretch of zone-trading, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton offense started to dig in. Once situated, they peppered Philadelphia starting goalie Ryan Keane with 16 shots in the opening frame.

On wall scrum just prior to the four minute mark of the first, Lincoln Hatten dug a puck free and flipped it back to Joey Verkerke on the left point. On his off-wing, Verkerke let go a side-winder that caromed off the back boards to the net front for a waiting Curtis Carlson. Carlson has great speed, but one of the traits that makes him special is his agility to use his quickness in close quarters. Corralling the loose puck, Carlson dragged Keane out of the net before curling the puck around him and burying for the game’s first goal.

With a 1-0 lead, the Knights allowed no push back. After a series of a faceoffs in the attacking zone, Michael Morrissey won a puck to his winger Jack Olsmtead. Olmstead kicked the puck up to the right point for Thomas Farrell. Farrell let go an elevated shot that beat Keane through a Matt Kidney screen to put the Knights up 2-0 in the game’s first eight minutes.

The Rebels would spend much of the first period attempting to contain the Knights blistering forecheck and speed off the rush. They tested Knights starter Christian Stoever with just two first-period shots. In the final minutes of the opening frame, the Rebels were able to create a few quality scoring chances that missed the net by mere inches, but were held scoreless through the first.

In the second, play picked up for Philadelphia, as they were able to create a few more quality chances, but time and again they were stymied by Stoever and a quick Knights blue line. As Wilkes-Barre/Scranton weathered the initial push from Philadelphia, they returned to their siege of the offensive zone.

Just under 12:30 into the middle period, the Rebels tried an outlet pass up their right wing. Michael Morrissey jumped in front of short pass at the blue line and deftly poked it back over to the just onside Jack Olmstead. Olmstead deked a back checking Rebel to the top of the slot, where he somehow found a crashing Matt Kidney behind the defense.  Kidney ripped a shot under the crossbar to give the Knight a 3-0 lead. The tally chased Ryan Keane and brought on Eli Billing.

Billing came on cold but performed well, facing seven shots in the final minutes of the second period. It wasn’t until the Knights moved to the game’s first power play that Billing was beaten. With just six seconds remaining in their man-advantage, Luke Robinson fired a point pass to Blake Kryska who hammered a shot toward the slot. The puck never made it through to the net, instead bouncing off a Rebels skater in front and into the lap of Reed Robinson. Robinson immediately let go a shot from the slot that rippled the twine, putting his team up 4-0 at the end of two periods of play.

In the third, The Knights hunkered down to protect their advantage. The Rebels responded with 12 shots on Christian Stoever (25 saves).  He stopped 11, before the Rebels finally found a crack.

After a scoreless first half to the period, Eric Olson carried a puck into the attacking zone, bowling over a Knights defender in the process. Olson’s pass to the corner was initially grabbed by the Knights, but was turned over to Ryan Patrick in the opposite corner. Through a check, Patrick slid a perfect centering pass to the open Olson in front of the net. The Calgary-native didn’t miss the opportunity and spoiled Stoever’s shutout with under nine minutes to play.

The rest of the competition failed to yield a goal, as the Knights skated away with a definitive game-one win. The team will return to Aston Saturday night at 7:05 PM EDT for game two. That game will be available on hockeytv.com. Follow Knights social media, www.wbsknights.com, and nahl.com for all news and updates!

Game 4: Stoever Stuns Titans as Knights Force Game 5

Facing win-or-go-home circumstances, the Knights made a stand Saturday night. Christian Stoever summoned his finest performance of the year and Gabe Temple continued his tear through the Robertson Cup Playoffs on the way to a Knights 1-0 victory.

In game four, Stoever squared off against his game three counterpart, Matt Ladd. Ladd entered play with two victories in the series, looking to add a series-clinching third. He was strong in the pipes yet again, making 37 saves on the evening, but the lone shot that bested him proved to be costly.

The score came at the 12:59 marker of the first period. On the game’s first power play, Gabe Temple fired a puck on net. The rebound off of Ladd’s save kicked over to a crashing Jack Olmstead on the back door, who jarred the puck across to Curtis Carlson on the opposite post. Carlson’s shot was denied by Ladd as well before the rebound kicked back to Temple in the slot. Temple ripped home the game’s first and only goal, extending his goal streak to three-straight games.

For the remainder of play, the Knights and Titans exchanged hits, penalties, and grade-a saves. Things built to an especially chippy ending the final five minutes of play. Through a host of penalties, scrums, toe and glove saves by Stoever, the Knights fought off the Titans attempt to tie the game including a final 1:10 with the extra attacker on. When the dust settled, the Knights had evened the series at two games, forcing a game five this evening in New Jersey.

Puck drop for the winner-take-all affair will take place at 5:00 PM EDT. You can watch the game online at hockeytv.com, or follow along with Knights social media and www.nahl.com.

 

Game 3: Knights Rally Falls Just Short

Game three in the Knights-Titans East Division Semi-Finals brought the competition to the Revolution Ice Centre with the series even at one. Friday’s contest saw the Titans surge out to an early lead.
After hemming the Knights in on a long shift early, the Titans fired a flurry of shots at Knights starter Christian Stoever. After he made saves on the initial Titans offerings, a rebound kicked out to Gavin Gulash on the short side. Gulash buried the puck for the game’s first goal at 2:56. Ryan Naumovski and Nick Boyagian tallied assists in the score. Andrew Husted added to the Titans lead after he deflected Chris Garbe’s shot past Stoever just three minutes later.
The Knights had no shortage of opportunities to respond. The team was stymied on all 12 of their first period shots, in addition to a few quality chances that missed the net of Ladd. In one instance, Ladd denied Jack Olmstead alone in close and then made a diving save to rob Matt Kidney of the would-be rebound goal.
The Titans would rally behind the efforts of the goaltender and their power play late in the period. With just six seconds remaining in their first man-advantage, Tate Singleton notched his first goal of the postseason after re-directing a Ryan Naumovski shot. Tyler Antonucci recorded the secondary assist on the tally, giving the Titans a commanding 3-0 lead with under five minutes remaining in the first.
The second period saw the game’s pace slow significantly as neither side found much success moving the puck. Turnovers, icings, and pucks put out of play dominated the early going, leaving little in terms of quality chances.
As had been the case for Wilkes/Barre-Scranton in game two, Gabe Temple was able to provide a spark. The Knights first-round draft pick scored his team’s first goal for the second-consecutive game, teed up by Jake Fuss and Tomas Koblizek on a rush down the ice at 12:01.
With the deficit trimmed to two, the Knights carried momentum into the third period. After beginning the frame on a carryover power play, the Knights quickly saw the advantage evaporate when they were penalized for hooking on a failed breakaway. Undeterred, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would a penalty 48 seconds later, pushing the game to 4-on-4 and an eventual Knights power play.
Shortly after the second power play’s expiration, Gabe Temple threw a puck to the slot where Jack Olmstead fired it to the netfront. Ladd and a host of bodies piled on the puck in the low slot, with the effort kicking it over to right post. There, lying prone on his back, Curtis Carlson shoveled the puck through Ladd to bring the Knights within a single score.
Wade Novak winded the comeback effort just over a minute and a half later.  The explosive skater tore up the ice on a 3-on-2 rush. As Stoever moved to mirror his effort, Novak buried a shot top-shelf over Stoever’s glove to re-establish a two-goal lead (Kyle Jeffers).
In what can be described as an all-world counter punch, Michael Morrissey swung momentum back in the opposite direction less than a minute later. As the Titans attempted a breakout, Morrissey, pressuring alone in the offensive  zone, pick-pocketed a Titans defenseman on the right circle before streaking in on goal. He ripped a shot past Ladd to narrow the score to 4-3.
Momentum on their side, the Knights re-doubled their efforts and managed to create another handful of quality chances as time ticked away in the third. Still, they struggled to break through against Ladd.
Their best chance came on a 2-on-1 with time dwindling, when Adrian Danchenko found Justin Engelkes with a cross-slot pass just after the pair gained the Titans zone. Engelkes lifted a heavy shot on goal, only to be denied by a sprawling Ladd.
Off the back of his efforts, the Titans fended off the last of the Knights comeback attempt, including 1:30 of facing an extra attacker, securing themselves a 2-1 series lead heading into game four.
Game four will be played tonight at the Revolution Ice Centre at 6:00 PM EDT. Admission is $5 at the door, and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow along on Knights social media and at NAHL.com!

Slow Start, Chippy Finish too Much for Knights to Overcome in Game 1

Series openers can set a tone, and if yesterday’s competition is any indication, the Knights and Titans first round will have no shortage of fireworks. Though Saturday’s score reflected a one-sided affair, the contest was hardly lopsided, as shots and penalty minutes flew abundantly from both sides.

The biggest separator between the Knights and Titans was New Jersey’s fast start in the first period, Saturday. With the benefit of home ice and a lively crowd behind them, the Titans controlled play through much of the first frame. David Tomeo earned the start in game one, and was tested early and often. In an otherwise sterling period, the West Caldwell backstop was bested twice on 23 shots.

Just past the 7:30 marker, a Titans combination of Nick Boyagian and Ryan Naumovski, swept in over the Knights blue line. Boyagian passed over to Naumovski on the right wing, where he centered the puck back to the top of the slot for the crashing Jimmy Dowd. The defenseman’s heavy shot rang off the pads of Tomeo who had charged to the top of the crease. The rebound kicked right back to Dowd, whose second try was denied by Tomeo sprawling forward and directing the puck to the side of the net, losing his stick in the process. Boyagian sat in waiting on the near goal post, but his effort to put the loose change home behind the fallen Tomeo missed through the crease. It kicked fortuitously back to Naumovksi, who circled his way to the top of the zone. Narrowly avoiding a shot block effort by Justin Engelkes, Naumovski flicked a quick wrister on goal, beating Tomeo to the back post for the 1-0 lead.

On the Knights third penalty kill of the period, the Titans struck again. The first shot coming from Ryan Wheeler off the cycle was turned aside by Tomeo. The rebound could not be cleared, as Boyagian climbed down the right boards to sift the puck back to the original point man, Wheeler. This time, he connected with Hunter Alden on a crisp pass to the middle of the slot, just past the stick of Reed Robinson. With space in the middle of the ice, Alden pulled Blake Kryska to the bottom of the slot in an attempt to block a shot that never came. Instead, Alden found the now-open Kyler Head at the bottom of the right circle, where the forward ripped a puck through, short side for the 2-0 lead at 18:36.

Resilient, the Knights ended an otherwise quiet period with a bang. After seeing limited action through much of the first, Titans starter Matt Ladd was beaten by the speed of the Knights transition offense. With about 20 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Matt Kidney sent an exit pass up the left wing boards to Jack Olmstead. Olmstead turned and curled a puck through neutral ice to Tyrone Bronte. Bronte gave the puck back to Olmstead as the pair gained the Titans line. From out wide on the left circle, Olmstead sent a perfect centering pass to the crashing Shay Donovan on the back door, where he deflected the rubber home, cutting the lead to one goal with 14 seconds left in the first.

The catalyst of a late-period goal bolstering them into the second, the Knights started the middle stanza with an explosive attack. Just past a minute in, on a seemingly innocent face-off win and charge up the left wall, the Titans were foiled once more by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s transition offense. Luke Robinson shut off Nick Boyagian just after he left his own zone. The loose puck was corralled and swung back to the Knights blue line by Reed Robinson. His pass found Blake Kryska who took a pair of strides before firing a stretch pass off the blade of Lincoln Hatten for what looked to be a routine tip-in. Hardly anything is routine when Curtis Carlson is skating into the attacking zone. Using his speed, the Knights captain plucked the puck off its fortuitous bounce off the side boards. He then blew past both Spencer Stanley and Ryan Wheeler, and with a quick flick of the wrists, ripped a shot across the face of Ladd for the game-tying goal.

From there, the Knights continued their siege of Ladd’s crease. Over the first half of the period, Ladd stood down a flurry of Knights shots, keeping the game even at two. As the Knights chances on goal mounted, so too did the tension and physicality of play.

Tomeo answered Ladd’s steady netminding with strong saves of his own. As the Titans weathered the early Knights surge, they began to create chances back the other way in the form of rushes down the ice. Twice Tomeo robbed the Titans on breakaways. The momentum slowly began to swing back to New Jersey’s effort as they began to breakout more cleanly and more often.

The turning point came just after the 13:00 mark of the second. After fending off shots from Tate Singleton and Zachary Farmeouth, Tomeo was beaten when Faremouth’s rebound was sent back to him from the corner by Hunter Alden. The centering feed allowed Faremouth to tee up a one-timer that was altered by a stick as he connected. The bad-luck puck came up high and off a Knights body in front of Tomeo, completely changing course in mid-air. The arching shot floated over the outstretched stick of the Knights goaltender and into the twine. Just after the puck crossed the goal line, Tomeo was knocked flat by Singleton, prompting a major scrum in the crease. Penalties were handed to each side to create a 4-on-4.

The Titans added a second man to the box after they were caught with too many men on the ice during a line change. The abbreviated Knights 4-on-3 and then 5-on-4 power play was cut just short on a high-intensity sequence of events with just seconds remaining on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton advantage. As the Knights circled the net of Ladd, Tyrone Bronte was laid out by Tate Singleton in the low slot as the Titans regained possession of the puck. On the ensuing clearing effort, Blake Kryska leveled Hunter Alden as he fielded the puck at the center ice logo. Kryska was penalized with a 5:00 major for kneeing.

After an initially neutralizing the first 3:51 of the extended Titans power play, the Knights penalty kill finally buckled. With 7.5 seconds left in the period, Hunter Alden and Ryan Wheeler played catch at the top of the Knights zone before Alden let a shot go that was re-directed through a screen in front by Kyler Head. The puck tucked its way through, giving the Titans a 4-2 lead.

In the third, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton killed off the remainder of the major penalty, but neither side could resist the urge to extend chippy exchanges beyond the whistle. All totaled, the teams combined for 54 penalty minutes-seven minor penalties, three misconducts-sapping five on five hockey, and ultimately working to preserve the two-goal lead for New Jersey.

The Titans added one more goal to their ledger at the halfway point of the third. Kyle Jeffers raced in over the line, and handed a puck to the just-onside Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler alertly found the wide-open Wade Novak crashing through the back side of the zone, where he buried the puck for the 5-2 lead.

Time ran out on the Knights comeback effort as the Titans took game one on the back of physical, emotional effort. A pivotal game two takes place today again in New Jersey at 5:00 PM EDT. Tune in on hockeytv.com and follow along on Knights social media!

Knights Offense Explodes in a Friday Night of Firsts

With the meeting of the number two and three seeds in the NAHL’s East Division underway in the Revolution Ice Centre Friday night, the words of head coach Tom Kowal earlier in the week rang heavy: “If we play Knights hockey, we’ve proven we can beat anybody in any division.”

The New Jersey Titans certainly qualified as somebody and are conveniently a part of the Knights division. The explosive rival entered Friday night with the second-highest goals per game average in the NAHL, and one more point than the Knights in the East Division standings. They brought with them Brandon Perrone, one of the league’s premiere goaltenders, who entered play with 14 wins-three against the Knights-and a .927 save percentage. To oppose Perrone, the Knights tapped David Tomeo, fresh off earning East Division Star of the Week for his two wins and .959 save percentage against the Northeast Generals last weekend.

The game began with an up tempo cadence. Both teams took turns trading dangerous rushes, with each goalie being tested early and often. The Knights offense, averaging 3.60 goals over their prior five games, struck first. Adrian Danchenko intercepted a Titans exit pass just under the blue line before finding Jack Olmstead charging down the ice. In a blink, the Knights had a 3-0 rush from the circles. Olmstead slid a perfect pass across the slot Mike Gelatt, who buried the opening goal against his home town and former team.

Three minutes later, the Knights took advantage of their second power play, when Reed Robinson, off helpers from Danchenko and recent Army commit Thomas Farrell, ripped a shot from the top of the zone past Perrone to build a 2-0 lead.

With the help of a sound Tomeo making 19 saves, plus a successful penalty kill late in the period, the Knights left the opening frame with a 2-0 lead.

After the first 20 minutes saw the teams combine for 39 shots, it was fair to question if the feat could be duplicated, let alone surpassed. The game’s middle period would find a way to top its predecessor.

The Knights peppered the net in the opening minute of the second, culminating in Mike Gelatt finding Jack Olmstead, who executed his second, perfect pass of the evening, this time to a crashing Mike Morrissey. Morrissey put the puck into the back of the net, but just after doing so, the momentum of both he and a back-checking Titan took out goalie Brandon Perrone. The netminder was forced to leave the ice for the remainder of the contest due to injury.

Rallying behind goalie Matt Ladd, the Titans scored less than a minute later when Hunter Alden fed Wade Novak the puck from down low to the bottom of the right circle. Novak ripped his 14th goal of the season past Tomeo to bring New Jersey back within two. Zachary Faremouth collected the secondary assist on the score.

Tyrone Bronte decided that was not acceptable. Following the start of the shift which saw his line chasing in their own zone, the Australian forward responded by taking a one-touch pass from Farrell, all the way to the Titans blue line. There, Bronte handed off to Justin Engelkes to create a 2-on-1. Engelkes found Bronte with a cross-slot feed to complete the give-and-go score to put the Knights back up by three, just before the two minute mark in the second period.

Engelkes and Bronte would keep the offense going five minutes later, when the former led the latter down the right wing, into Titans territory. From Engelkes, Bronte dropped the puck back to a trailing Adrian Danchenko who fired an initial shot off the pads of Ladd. Catching the rebound even with the goal line, Danchenko somehow found the open space, pocketing the puck in the corner of the net over Ladd’s shoulder for the 5-1 lead.

The Knights were far from finished. While being supported by continued excellence in net from Tomeo, the Knights survived a barrage of chances generated by a quick, but unlucky Titans forecheck. At 7:51, Reed Robinson grew the lead again with his second marker of the evening, good for his 22nd on the season. New arrival and affiliate defenseman Sean Detloff fed him the puck, off a secondary helper from Curtis Carlson. The assist for Detloff gave the Harrison Township, Michigan native his first NAHL point in his first game.

Another first would arrive near the period’s end. With Detloff and Titans first-time skater Rece Bergeman both on the ice, odds were decent that one of the two could find their first career goal. Luke Robinson had other ideas.

Tyrone Bronte took an Adrian Danchenko pass and circled his way deep into Titans territory. Pulling up on the left wing, Bronte fired back to the right side for a streaking Robinson, who ripped his best shot of the season top shelf, over the shoulder of Ladd for the Knights 7th goal of the contest.

The celebration, though memorable, wouldn’t last too long for Robinson as he quickly found himself a member of both teams’ sudden parade to the penalty boxes. Just 27 seconds after his goal, Robinson was assessed two penalties in an altercation with Titans forward Kyle Jeffers. Each was sent for roughing, but Robinson was assessed an extra two minutes for slashing. The ensuing Titans power play was short-lived, as they’d take a tripping minor less than a minute later to close the period in a stretch of 4-on-4.

The third period would follow suit, with the 4-on-4 quickly ending as a result of a Knights holding penalty just 28 seconds into the period. The 4-on-3 that followed for the Titans then turned back into a 5-on-4 with the return of Jeffers and Reed Robinson (serving Luke Robinson’s extra penalty). When play finally drew back even, both sides had failed to score a special teams goal.

The Knights penalty kill was smothering throughout the evening, going 7-for-7, and was again bolstered by Tomeo’s steady play in net. All totaled, the goalie from West Caldwell, New Jersey would stare down a staggering 53 shots on the evening, stopping all but one.

With more penalties periodically changing playing strenght on both sides for the rest of the period, the Knights would take advantage of a rate stretch of five-on-five with under five minutes to play. Joey Verkerke, a veteran defenseman in his second year with the Knights, has played brilliantly of late, particularly through his blue line’s smattering of injuries over the past week. With over 80 games in his career with the team, one thing the steady defender had yet to find was his first goal in a Knights uniform.

On an odd sequence at the 16 and a half minute mark, one that saw nearly every player on the ice pile up in the crease, Verkerke got the last piece of a puck that bounced off of bodies and sticks of Reed Robinson and Curtis Carlson in front, before Verkerke guided it through the pads of Matt Ladd. The Knights went wild in the ensuing celebration, putting the perfect cap on a nearly perfect evening.

What would turn out to be an 8-1 victory puts the Knights in second place in the East division, with a one point lead over the Titans. two teams will meet again tonight at 7:30 pm EDT.

Tonight is Billet Appreciation Night at the Revolution Ice Centre, where the Knights billet families will be recognized and honored in a pre-game ceremony. Admission for non-billets/player families is $5 at the door, while the game will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com. Tune in and follow along on Knights social media and www.nahl.com/game-center/#/daily-schedule!

 

Power Play and Goaltending Spur Knights to Victory

Game number 56 for the Knights was their final meeting with the Northeast Generals in the 2017-18 regular season. A regulation win would provide a solid, five-point cushion for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over the fourth place Generals, and leave the potential for the Knights to be tied for second place by Sunday’s end.

After an evenly-fought OT thriller on Saturday, both teams returned to the ice determined to clinch the weekend series Sunday. The Knights again found themselves shorthanded in the wake of injuries up and down their roster. For the second-straight night, they dressed just 17 skaters with only four being defensemen.

A fast-moving first period provided a nearly even exchange of chances for either side. The Knights tested David Fessenden, Friday’s winning goalie for Northeast, with 12 first period shots. He stopped them all. David Tomeo, in net for the second-straight game for the Knights, likewise denied his former team on all 14 shots sent his way.

The quiet first gave way to a busy second. After each team killed one penalty apiece in the opening 20 minutes, special teams dominated the middle frame. Just 14 seconds in, the Knights took a slashing penalty. The issue was further compounded when they were called for too many men on the ice with 34 seconds remaining on the initial penalty. Using the 5-on-3 to build momentum, the Generals would eventually cash in, when Matt Wiesner deflected a point shot from the returning Colin Bilek to the twine with just 33 seconds remaining on the second penalty. Louis Boudon collected the secondary assist on the score.

The Knights didn’t wait long to answer. On a  5-on-3 of their own, Curtis Carlson slid a puck over to Tom Farrell, who found an open Mike Morrissey on the back circle, where the assistant captain ripped a puck by a Jack Olmstead-screened Fessenden to even the score at one.

The afterglow didn’t have much time to sink in however, as before the second penalty expired, the Generals rained on the Knights parade. Following a shorthanded, offensive zone faceoff win, Justin Jallen found himself with space in front of Tomeo off slick feeds Colin McCabe and Brian Chambers. Jallen peppered a shot under the bar with such velocity that it utterly destroyed Tomeo’s water bottle. Perhaps motivated by vengeance, Tomeo locked down and elevated what was already a solid performance from that point on.

For their part, the Knights offense again rebounded swiftly. During a rare stretch of even play in the second, Jake Fuss flipped a bouncing puck to Tom Farrell on the right point. Farrell’s shot made its way into traffic in front of Fessenden, where Curtis Carlson found it and pushed it home to knot the game at 10:09.

For the remaining half of the period, both Fessenden (33 saves) and Tomeo answered building offensive chances with one strong save after another. At the end of 40 minutes, the contest was locked in a very even 2-2 score.

In the third, a failed power play followed up by a major penalty would doom Northeast. At 12:20 Reed Robinson would be boarded in neutral ice, sending the Knights to a 5:00 power play. Robinson would get his revenge three and a half minutes later, when Joey Verkerke’s point shot, set up by Mike Morrissey, split the penalty killers for the Generals. Gabe Temple and Robinson converged on Fessenden, with the latter finding and slamming it by the massive goalie for the Knights first lead.

Tyrone Bronte followed up Robinson’s goal with a key interception of the Generals last clearing effort on the major. As the Generals man stepped out of the penalty box, Bronte threaded the turnover to a crashing Jack Olmstead, who put the puck through the pads of Fessenden to jump ahead 4-2.

With time winding down, the Generals would empty their net to try and erase the two-goal deficit. The Knights aided the Northeast cause by committing what was deemed elbowing with 53 seconds to go. Northeast swarmed through the attacking zone for the remainder of regulation but were denied again and again in short succession by Tomeo. The ’99 netminder put a cap on the contest and his second-straight win with a highlight reel glove save at the horn. Tomeo’s 35 saves on 37 shots, gave him a 2-0 record on the weekend, with a sterling 70 saves on 73 shots, good for a .959 save percentage, and a 1.50 goal’s against average.

The Knights will conclude their home portion of the regular season next weekend with two meetings against the New Jersey Titans, the team currently tied with the Knights for second place in the East Division (pending this afternoon’s results in their game against the Johnstown Tomahawks). Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media throughout the week for all news and team content!