Saturday brought with it the Knights final game of the 2017 calendar year. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton entered the tilt with the opportunity to gain sole possession of first place in the NAHL’s East Division with a win. Their opponent for the second straight day was the Kenai River Brown Bears.
After a strong offensive showing in a 5-2 win, the Knights looked to their forecheck to lead the way again on Saturday. After a quiet first seven minutes in which each side traded an unsuccessful power play, the Knights awoke.
At 7:25 Adrian Danchenko kicked off an impressive outing when he fired a shot through a screen to best Kenai River goalie Gavin Enright. Anthony Firriolo picked up his 12th assist, while Gabe Temple added his sixth to set up the game’s first score.
31 seconds later Temple would fill in the goal column as well as the Knights first-round pick willed a puck through Enright on a wraparound set up by Danchenko and Tomas Koblizek. The 2-0 lead held through the end of the period as Christian Stoever, fresh off a stint in the USHL, coupled with the Knights defense to hold the Brown Bears off the board.
A quiet opening to the second frame gave way to a penalty parade featuring 11 combined infractions. Both power plays were stymied by steady penalty kill play on each side of the ice, holding the score in place at 2-0. A fight between Michael Morrissey and Michael Spethmann kicked up the intensity in what had already proven to be a chippy weekend just past the halfway point of play.
As the second wound down, 4-on-4 play ensued at 16:49 following a Kenai River penalty. With added space on the ice, Tom Farrell and Luke Robinson set up an Adrian Danchenko deke and drive to the net where he bested Enright for his eighth goal of the year, his second of the day.
Leading 3-0 to start the the third, the Knights penalties finally came back to bite them, as former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blue-liner Markuss Komuls cashed in a perfectly placed power play goal at 5:46 (Zach Krajnik, Filip Karlsson).
The Knights would bounce back, capitalizing on a power play of their own when Curtis Carlson fired a puck home at 11:29 from Jack Olmstead to re-gain a three-goal lead. Olmstead would combine with Matt Kidney to put the game to rest a few minutes later. Just past 17:40, Kidney executed a brilliant poke check in neutral ice before carrying the puck back the other way to create an odd-man rush. In front of the net, Kidney faked to Curtis Carlson before passing back to Jack Olmstead in the slot where the latter buried the puck for a 5-1 lead.
Christian Stoever would close out the contest with a stellar 32 saves on 33 shots in his first game back, on his way to his 11th win of the season. Gavin Enright was solid, despite the five goals allowed, making 36 stops on 41 shots. The Knights and Brown Bears both went 1/7 on the power play and 6/7 on the penalty kill on the afternoon. The win and subsequent two points puts the Knights ahead of the Philadelphia Rebels in the East by one point.
The Knights will look to continue building on a three-game winning streak with a two-game series against the midwest-leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs next weekend. The first will take place on Friday, January 5th and 1:00 pm. The second will be played on Saturday the 6th at 6:30 pm. Both games will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all news and updates!
On behalf of the entire organization, the Knights would like to wish all their fans, players, families, and staff a very healthy and happy New Year and look forward to bringing you more wins in 2018!