Tag Archives: Eastern Hockey League

EHL Recap: Knights Open Season with Point, But Shootout Loss

The Knights opened their EHL season Wednesday with a road game against the East Coast Wizards. Things got off to a good start when late in the first, Johnny Jackson broke up a point pass in his own zone. The 2000-born forward raced down the ice on a breakaway before besting Wizards netminder Kevin Dacey for the 1-0 lead.

Trent Pitser would come back with the equalizer at the 3:44 mark of the second period for East Coast, when the forward took a pass from defenseman Patrick Rossetti and put it by Knights starter Thomas Walker.

Following a dust up between players for both sides that resulted in a Knights power play, the Wizards drew up some shorthanded magic late in the second, as Harris Colvin beat Walker off assists from Isaac Leslie and Luke Pepin.

Deny Arkhypenko would respond for Wilkes-Barre to open the third, scoring almost immediately after the opening faceoff to even the game at two. That’s where the score would stay for the remainder of regulation and overtime as both Walker and Dacey refused to blink.

In the shootout, James Nash would score for the Wizards on a slick deke in round one, only to be matched by Johnny Jackson going fiver for the Knights. Round two saw Isaac Leslie rip a goal through for the Wizards to take the 2-1 lead. Kevin Dacey shut the door on the Knights final two shots to secure the victory.

In the loss, Thomas Walker was excellent, stopping 34 of 36 shots. The Knights will look to bounce back tomorrow morning at 10:45 am eastern when they face the Seahawks Hockey Club at the Tony Kent Arena in Massachusetts. Tune in on hockeytv.com!

Knights Goalie Thomas Walker Commits to Albertus Magnus College

Thomas Walker is getting ready to start his second season with the Knights organization, but before the season’s first puck drop, the goalie announced some exciting news. Starting in the fall of 2019, Walker will join the Albertus Magnus Falcons in their inaugural season playing NCAA DIII hockey.

“I like the atmosphere-it’s right around Yale and Quinnipiac, so it’s a good college town,” said Walker of his future home. “The people are great, the head coach, the assistant coach, they’re just nice people, great people. To visit a school and find out it’s a small school-that’s what I was interested in because that’s the kind of high school I went to. Everything about the college just kinda sucked me in and I fell in love with it.”

Located in southern Connecticut, Albertus Magnus recently gained approval to join NCAA Division III hockey as an independent school in 2019-20. Kyle Wallack will man the bench after serving as an assistant coach for the University of Vermont.  Wallack has coached the past 21 years primarily as an at NCAA Division I level, along with stops along the way in DIII, the ACHA and USHL.

“With it being a new program it just excited me to be part of a start, setting the groundwork for them to be successful for many years to come,” said Walker. “Hopefully we’ll be in the record books getting the first winning season and being a part of all that interesting stuff.”

Walker spent his first year of junior hockey as the backstop in 28 games for the Knights. He recorded a 2.86 goals against average and a .899 save percentage in the 2017-18 regular season.

“I think it helped me playing against older competition,” said Walker of his first season in the EHL. “It made me have to adjust, get stronger and faster because everybody shoots harder and moves quicker and passes are crisper and everything just moves at a higher speed. I’ve just had to adjust to that, and hopefully with another year under my belt, I’ll be even more prepared and be able to just keep improving.”

What can Falcons fans expect from their future goalie?

“I’m a battler,” he said. “That’s my big thing. I’m never gonna give up. I’ve kinda learned more and more as we keep going that you just have to battle and keep going. I’m not the quickest, not the biggest, but I’ll definitely battle from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, all season long. I’m not going to complain about anything. I’m ready to play whenever, wherever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m just going to battle.”

“The best way start to training camp when you have players reporting already committing to school,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “It goes to show the success were having here with our players and more importantly it shows they trust the process.”

For all his growth in his first season with the Knights, it says a lot about Walker that his favorite memories are not individual highlights, but ones belonging to last year’s fellow goalie, Jared Stahel, along with another team accomplishment from 2017-18.

“My favorite would probably be the December showcase last year,” he said. “We were just starting to hit our stride. We were able to play well enough to beat the Avs, then Stahel got the first team shutout against the Wolves going into Christmas break so we were on a nice little hot streak beating the eventual champions and then getting the first shutout for the team so that was a good start. Kinda went on a streak there and got a little hot, so that was probably my favorite memory so far.”

For all that lies ahead, Walker isn’t looking too far beyond the upcoming season with the Knights in the EHL. His sights are set firmly on  improving on his consistency before heading off to school.

“I want to be better for the length of the whole year. Last year, I thought I had a pretty slow start, and then a decent middle, and then slowed down again at the end. I’m looking to have a complete season and go farther in the playoffs than we did.”

“I’m really excited for Walks,” said Fusco. “It’s pretty awesome because it shows the dedication he has put in to his game, the dedication he has to our program and more importantly how he has trusted the process over the past year with his development.”

Ever the team player, Walker was quick to thank those who have made his commitment a reality.

“Definitely a big thanks to my family for all their support and my friends back home for helping me grinding through this junior year, being supportive. Obviously thanks to the Knights organization and everything they’ve done, coach Fusco for helping me improve, and my teammates for playing well enough in front of me to get a college interested in me, so just a big thanks to everyone that’s helped.”

The Knights  congratulate Thomas on his well-deserved college commitment and look forward to his upcoming season and rooting for him in his future hockey career and beyond!

 

David Pfoestl Commits to Anna Maria College

One of the most-tenured Knights defensemen has earned a place in the college hockey ranks, as David Pfoestl has announced his intent to join Anna Maria College this fall. The AMCats hockey program is entering its first season at the NCAA Division III level and will compete as an independent in 2018-19.
“I chose Anna Maria College because I felt that it was the right place to continue my academic career, and also to play hockey at the college level,” said Pfoestl. “I visited the campus and felt comfortable and welcomed right away. When I first moved to the United States from Italy to play hockey it has always been my goal to go to college to pursue my academic and athletic career. Attending Anna Maria College this fall is a dream becoming true for me and I could not be more excited to start this new chapter in my life.”
Pfoestl joined the Knights at the youth level after moving from Italy in 2015-16.  While growing into his 6-5 frame, the left-handed defender made an impact early both on the stat sheet and with physical style of play. He notched three goals and 17 helpers in his rookie season, split between the U16 and U18 level.
“I would describe myself as a hard-working defensive defenseman who likes to play a fair but physical type of game and use my big body as much as possible to create time for myself and my teammates to make plays. I never give up on or of the ice and always empty the tank whenever I step on the ice for games and practices.”

After 131 games with the Knights, Pfoestl has gotten to know much of the organization’s coaching staff. Josh Fusco has been his head coach for the past two years, and has had a front row seat for Pfoestl’s junior career.

“I’m very happy for David and his decision,” said Fusco. “Any time a kid leaves to go play NCAA hockey it’s a great feeling of accomplishment all across the board. Having David the past two years and seeing his tremendous improvement with several parts of his game has been a great sight to see. This decision is a great reward for all the hard work that he has been putting in.”
Pfoestl laced up the skates for Fusco’s NA3AHL team in 2016-17, producing at over a point-per game pace with 11 tallies and 26 assists in 36 games on the way to a league championship appearance. In the EHL this past season, the Italian added two more goals and five assists in 40 games played. Beyond the walls of the Revolution Ice Centre, Pfoestl also represented Italy in the World Junior Classic 18j D1B tournament twice, playing in ten games between 15-16 and 16-17.
“Playing in the EHL this past season under coach Fusco not only helped me to develop into a better hockey player, but also into a better person off the ice,” said Pfoestl. “The level of play in the EHL was very high and definitely prepared me to make the next step to play college hockey.”
Pfoestl leaves Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a strong legacy. Over the past two seasons, Pfoestl ranks second among the Knights tier-III defenders in both games played (76) and points (43). It’s a time he holds in high regard.
“Being part of the Knights family over the last 3 years was an honor and a lifetime experience for me,” he said. “While wearing the Knights jersey I made a ton of great experiences and made bonds  that will last a lifetime. The Knights took great care of me when I first moved to the United States from Italy at the age of 15, and always made me feel welcomed throughout my three years in the organization. I would like to thank my family, coaches, teammates, and everyone else who supported me throughout these years. Especially my family who made a lot of sacrifices for me and also Coach Fusco for believing in my potential and developing me into the player and person I am now.”
The Knights join coach Fusco in their appreciation for David’s contributions to his teams’ success. They wish him all the best in his pursuit of furthering his education and his hockey career!

Tyler Watungwa Commits to Finlandia University

Another day and another Knight is heading off to college. Tyler Watungwa, a crucial mid-season addition to the EHL team, and an elemental piece to the Knights second-half run has committed to Finlandia University. The Lions compete in the highly-competitive NCHA Conference in NCAA Division III hockey.

“First off, it came highly recommended by coach Fusco, him being an alumni of their program and a former player for its head coach Joe Burcar,” said Watungwa. “He had nothing but good things to say about both Finlandia and the coaching staff there. That was a huge part of it. Once I was started looking into it a little more, they had the program that I was looking for. It’s called physical therapist assistant and that’ll lead me down a path of exercise science, hopefully allowing me to be an athletic trainer once hockey is all done.”

“I was just doing my job as a coach and reaching out to other coaches at the college level to talk about my 97’s,” said Fusco. “One of the schools I talked to was my alma mater Finlandia. Coach Joe Burcar, was my coach. I know what what he likes and what he demands out of his players. I wanted to help him out and ultimately help Tyler. Burcar wants hockey players and he’s getting one in Tyler.

The Ottawa native came to the Knights in mid-December, while the team was still finding their footing in the Eastern Hockey League. After returning from a two-year absence, the roster was filled with talented, but young players, many that were still new to the junior level of hockey. Watungwa saw through that and reached out to a place he felt he could help.

“He actually reached out to me,” said Fusco. “We were playing the Boston Junior Rangers and East Coast Wizards and I got an email from Tyler expressing an interest in playing for us. He wanted to come to an organization with a good reputation and some prestige while getting some exposure to scouts. I took a look at some clips of him, talked to his coach, and even had the benefit of having Austin Weber, one of his former teammates, already on our roster. Web backed up what I saw and that was that Tyler was a good hockey player who worked hard, was strong and hard to move off the puck. At the end of the day, he was a ‘97 who wanted to be here, who wanted to be a Knight and that worked out perfectly.”

“Where I was before, I wasn’t really sure if I was getting these looks,” explained Watungwa. “I came back to the EHL, where the goal is getting looked at as much as I could. I knew coming in, this is the spot to do it. The league showcases are amazing in terms of all the scouts that are there. The team and the league as a whole put a whole a lot of effort into moving guys up, which is awesome.”

Once aboard with the Knights, Watungwa immediately made his presence known as an explosive and gritty playmaker. In his first seven games, he scored five goals and two assists while installing himself as crucial piece in all situations.

“He came in, and I thought he was going to be a middle six forward, a kind of a grinder guy, but right off the bat he proved he could be a goal-scorer,” said Fusco. “It let me put him on a line with Tyler Nielsen and Cody Rumsey for a good portion of the season, and that was a really solid combination for us. On the ice, his best skill to me, is his puck handling. He’s a skilled guy and a really strong player. He’s hard to push off the puck. He makes a lot of good plays with his vision. Ultimately his ability to move the puck, to get down low and win possessions for us, and keep it on his blade made him a really essential forward in our lineup.”

“I think I just bring compete level,” said Watungwa. “That’s what I tried to bring to the Knights program, just working hard every shift. Whether it’s making a hit, blocking a shot, making a play offensively or defensively, I’m always going to try to do it at 100%.”

Beyond the stat sheet, leadership is another trait Tyler exudes. It wasn’t lost on his coach or his teammates.

“That early production really grabbed the attention of our locker room,” said Fusco. “His work ethic, his habits, his effort in practice, that all combined to create a really positive influence for our guys. He was the prime example of leading by example. He brought the same effort and enthusiasm every day and really that’s exactly what you want from one of your veteran players.”

With his junior career now over, Watungwa is preparing for his next team, and like his entrance to the Knights, he’s thrilled for the opportunity.

“They (Finlandia) are in a rebuild year, but they are definitely really excited about where the program’s going,” he said. “I was really happy to get in when I could to help be a part of that rebuild. Honestly the big thing I’m excited about is that I get to play hockey for another four years. Obviously I’m excited to go to school, to get that part of my life started, but I get to do a thing I love for another four years, and I think that’s just awesome.”

Under Coach Burcar, the Lions program is looking to get back to its earlier success in his first stint as the team’s bench boss. In the last four seasons of that stretch, Burcar guided Finlandia to a 57-43-7 record, including an MCHA postseason conference championship in 2006-07.

“Finlandia is a tight knit community that loves and is passionate about their hockey,” said Fusco. “They have strong support from the school. Coach Burcar is back there rebuilding the program in a very strong conference and it’s very exciting to send one my players there. It means a lot that I can help move a player to his goal of division III college hockey, but also exciting and sentimental to send him to coach Burcar and Finlandia. It’s a great fit, Joe is excited and Tyler is excited-it’s a perfect fit.”

In parting, Watungwa isn’t going without fond memories. The season may have ended a few games earlier than he had hoped, but he’s happy to have been on for the ride.

“Making 20 new friends,” he said of his favorite part of wearing the Knights sweater. “Every team you go to, you’ve got 20 guys you’re going to war with every night. All those guys in our locker room, I consider brothers. I’d say the relationships that I made over the last three and a half months were pretty awesome.”

His gratitude was not limited to just those he skated with.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my mom,” he said. “She’s been a big part of getting me into sports. She drives me to all these crazy places in the middle of nowhere just to play hockey. She’s been a real inspiration for me. A huge thank you to coach Fusco and the whole Knights organization for giving me the ability to play at a level where I could be in front of all of these scouts and giving me the right coaching and the tools I needed to get to the next level. I want to thank all the teammates that I had this year and past years who helped make me a better player and a better person.”

Fusco shared the sentiment but reversed its direction.

“I want to thank Tyler for being a part of this year with us,” he said. “It takes a special type of player to accomplish what he did in our dressing room and on the ice. He’s an incredibly ward worker, and a great person. I’ll be following his career eagerly, and I wish him only the best in hockey and in his life beyond.”

The Knights join coach Fusco in thanking Tyler and wishing the best of luck at Finlandia and in all his pursuits in life!

EHL: Knights Storm Back in Game Two Against Applecore

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

Round one of the Knights EHL playoffs continued Saturday when the team squared off against the New York Applecore for the second-consecutive day. To avoid elimination and force a definitive game three, the Knights would have to win or see their season end.

New York would quickly establish the pace in the opening period, out-shooting the Knights  12-5 in the first 20 minutes. Jared Stahel, taking the pipes for the Knights, and Benjamin Allard-Robitaille, back again for the Applecore, would not allow a goal through the first three quarters of the first.

Joseph Verboys ended the scoring drought when he bested Stahel off assists from Matthew Boring and Brett Reed at 16:10. The Knights responded less than a minute later, with Nate Chuckran burying a goal past Allard-Robitaille to even the game at one. A pair of apples came from Anthony Starzi and Austin Weber on the score.

On the very next shift, the Applecore would re-gain the lead when Brandon Napoli and Thomas O’Brien fed Connor Woolley for his first tally of the postseason.

In  the second, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton offense would start fast and maintain pressure through much of the middle frame. Chuckran would gather his second goal of the contest, following a New York penalty just 1:25 in. On the game’s only power play, Bryan Whelan and Rhett Padgett set the table for Chuckran’s second game-tying goal.

Stahel and Allard-Robitaille would hunker down to stop a combined 21 of 22 shots in the period to keep the score gridlocked after 40 minutes. The pair would continue their hot streak through the first half of the third as well, as each side entered the final 10 minutes of play looking for the go-ahead goal.

Rhett Padgett found such a tally at 10:35, unassisted to give the Knights their first lead of the evening. Insurance less than than three minutes later would be added when Anthony Starzi beat Allard-Robitaille to build a 4-2 Knights lead.

Stahel (35 saves) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s defense kept a lid on Applecore’s comeback into the final minute of play. As time wound down, Verboys would find the net for a second time, bringing New York back within one at 19:26 (Connor Woolley). Wounded but not beaten, the Knights would rally to defend their net for the final 34 seconds of play, concluding regulation with the 4-3 victory.

The rubber match of the best-of-three series will take place tomorrow, Monday, March 12th at 2:00 pm EST at Brewster Ice Arena. The Knights will look on to move onto round two of the postseason with a win. The game will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com. Follow along on www.easternhockeyleague.org and at @WBSKnightsEHL on twitter!

 

Knights Forward Nate Chuckran Commits to Stony Brook

One of the most veteran junior players in the Knights Organization, Nate Chuckran has made his decision to go to Stony Brook University starting this fall. The Seawolves are an ACHA division I program that have recorded 20 or more wins in 16 of their last 19 seasons and in the last four years has won four-consecutive ESCHL Championships along with one national championship runner up finish. For Chuckran it wasn’t just the hockey accolades he was focused on.

“What stood out to me is how highly ranked the school is itself. I’m going for biomedical engineering so it narrows down my choices a lot. They have a great program. Their coach Chris Garofalo keeps a tight ship.”

Chuckran has been a long-time veteran of the EHL, having played in his 100th career game (including playoffs) in the Knights regular season finale Saturday. His four-team career has been strong, wracking up 21 goals and 47 points in that span. His 2017-18 season, split between the Philadelphia Junior Flyers and the Knights, has been his most-productive, scoring 13-18-31 in 41 games played.

“The EHL has helped me prepare by helping me grow as a player,” said Chuckran. ” It’s helped me mature as a player. It’s definitely increased my poise with the puck and taught me to not be afraid to get in the corners at all.”

“Chuck is a hard-nose player that puts 100% in to every he does on and off the ice,” said his head coach, Josh Fusco. “He’s very motivated, driven and has a lot passion. From day one, after we acquired him from the Junior Flyers, he’s brought leadership to this team and moved into that assistant captain role nicely for us. As a ’97 He’s brought a lot of junior experience and more importantly he’s brought that winning attitude to our locker room.”

“I think I have a positive impact on the guys,” said Chuckran of what he brings to a team. “Any where I’ve gone that’s the feeling I’ve gotten. As far as on the ice, I think I make a defensive impact and I bring a lot of speed with my game.”

With his college decision made, Chuckran is now focused on finishing his junior career on a high note.

“Obviously we want to win a championship,” he said. “Not only that, I want to leave the guys here with a positive impact. I want to help them and guide them to a better position for their future as far as junior hockey goes, each of them individually. I’ll miss this team and the fun we’ve had, [laughing] everybody’s saying ‘OH YEAH’ all the time.”

Chuckran’s and his teammates’ enthusiasm will be a welcome sight when the team kicks off their postseason this weekend against the New York Applecore. The playoffs will serve as Chuckran’s final chapter of his junior career, one he’s happy to have had, and aware of those who have made it possible.

“A big thanks to my parents for supporting me through all of this and all the coaches that got me here. I couldn’t have done it by myself. I’m excited for a new beginning at Stony Brook. I’m very optimistic about their program and the school itself.”

“Nate is a kid that is going to succeed in life” said Fusco. “I’m very happy for him on his decision moving forward with his hockey and academic future.”

The Knights organization congratulates Nate on his commitment and thanks him for his contributions to the EHL program’s success.  They look forward to rooting him on in his Stony Brook career and beyond!

Bryan Whelan Commits to Framingham State Rams

Bryan Whelan’s had a busy year. The EHL forward started the season with the New York Bobcats Royals before being traded to the Knights in January. Whelan had played 2016-17 with Knights NA3AHL nemesis, the Long Island Royals, before making the transition to the EHL this season.

Wherever he’s gone, Whelan has produced. In 29 games with New York this season, he tallied 15 goals and 23 points. Since coming to the Knights, he’s picked up six goals and seven assists in 16 games.

“I would say I bring speed and an offensive presence to the ice, with good vision and a quick release on my shot, Whelan said of his game. “I think I will be able to help Framingham out both during even strength and on the power play.”

The Framingham Rams are a member of the NCAA division three MASCAC conference. The university has been a member for the DIII level since 1971.

“I really liked the area of where the school was, and being able to walk not even a mile to go grab food or see a movie and stuff like that,” said Whelan of Framingham’s campus in Massachusetts. “The kids on the team were all welcoming when I went on my visit and I think this is a great fit for me.”

Whelan is confident that the EHL has prepared him for the next step in his career.

“Playing in this league has helped me because of its speed of play,” he said. “Seeing the few college games I have watched, I think I will be able to jump right into the college level and not have to make to major an adjustment to it.”

Standing at 5-9 with speed to burn, it didn’t take long for Whelan to make an impact with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the EHL. The right-handed forward scored in his first five games with the team, scoring six goals in his first nine appearances with the Knights. Needless to say, he’ll be a key piece for the team as it heads into postseason play.

“Bryan has been a welcome addition to our Knights family,” said head coach Josh Fusco. “He has progressed in his time here and I’m  very proud of the strides he has made. He came here on mission to make the playoffs in his last year of junior hockey and to prepare himself for college hockey. He wanted to be a Knight and we made it happen. He’s another kid that wants to be here and another kid for us to help. It couldn’t be any better than that.”

“Being a Knight has been a very fun experience,” said Whelan. “They are a top class organization, and I enjoy playing for them. Getting here, and now heading into college, I would like to thank my parents who have traveled this path with me since I was six years old, driving me to 6:00 am practices all over the US. I thank my brothers, for pushing me every day to be the best I can be and telling me to never give up and follow my dreams. This isn’t possible without them. I would also like to thank the Royals coach Ken Hoey, for always believing in me since my first junior year in 2015. I want to also thank Coach Fusco and the staff I’m with now for taking me in half way through the season and believing in me to go out there and play my game of hockey. Finally, I would like to thank all of my teammates since I have first started playing hockey as a little kid. They have helped me grow as a player and as a person of the ice and have bettered me in every which way possible.”

The Knights would like to thank Bryan for his dedication in his time with the organization. They wish him the best of luck in his career!

“Very happy for Bryan and his decision in pursuing his academic future and playing hockey at Framingham,” said Fusco. “I wish him all the best and much success with his future.”

EHL: Knights Close Regular Season with Win

Photo: EHL

On Saturday, the Knights took on the Philadelphia Junior Flyers for the teams’ final contest of the 2017-18 regular season. Following their loss Friday, the Knights were determined to finish on a high note before the playoffs kick off next weekend.

A tight first period saw Garrett Stenberg and Jared Stahel trade saves while both offenses searched for their rhythm. The Knights would finally break through in the final second of the first, when Evan Green picked up his first tally of his Knights career. Staying with the puck at the point, Green took a pass from Denys Arkhypenko and fired it past a fooled Stenberg for the 1-0 lead.

The Junior Flyers wouldn’t wait long to answer in the second period. Connor Lenaghan broke free in front of Stahel on a power play as a shot from Kyle Harris deflected off Lenaghan’s blade and into the net. Billy McDevitt was credited the secondary assist on the game-tying goal.

The Knights would strike on a power play of their own just prior to the halfway point of the period. Off Emerson Emery’s point shot, set up by Bryan Whelan, Anthony Starzi deflected the puck past Stenberg to retake the lead.

A physical second half to the period yielded no goals, despite each side taking another try on the man-advantage. Jared Stahel played a key role in preserving the Knights lead as he stood down 22 of 23 Philadelphia shots in the frame.

In the the third, the score remained tight for the first half of the period. The Knights power play could not capitalize on an early Junior Flyers penalty, but their forecheck picked up steam, out-shooting Philadelphia 17-11 over the final 20 minutes. At 9:42 Austin Weber put home his sixth goal of the season, unassisted to establish a 3-1 Knights lead.

The Junior Flyers answered a minute and a half later when Gianni Dini ripped home a Nick Kiemel rebound, set up by Patrick Sullivan. The score brought life to the Flyers legs, but the visitors were kept at bay by Stahel’s steady effort in the pipes.

Despite having the extra attacker on late in the contest, Philadelphia was undone by the Knights strong defense, capped off by Austin Weber’s second goal of the day, an empty-netter set up by former Junior Flyer Nate Chuckran at the horn.

With the win, the Knights head into the postseason locked into the fifth seed and a first-round matchup with the fourth-seeded New York Applecore, a team they beat three times in four meetings during the regular season. The best-of-three series will take place exclusively in the Applecore’s Brewster Ice Arena in New York.

For dates and times for series, stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com, www.easternhockeyleague.org and follow @WBSKnightsEHL on twitter!

EHL: Nimeh’s Late Goal Drives Knights to Victory

(Photo: EHL)

Still chasing fourth place in the South Conference through the final weeks of the 2017-18 regular season, the Knights entered their lone game of the weekend just four points behind their future playoff opponent, the New York Applecore. With New York idle until Monday, the Knights Saturday contest against the Junior Flyers provided an opportunity to climb another step closer to home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stormed out to an early advantage Saturday, dictating the early pace of play. In a period they out-shot Philadelphia 18-9, the Knights built an early 2-0 lead via goals from Tyler Nielsen at 8:58 and Nate Chuckran at 11:26.

Nielsen’s tally was a breakaway set up by Tyler Watungwa and Rhett Padgett in which Nielsen bested Junior Flyers goalie Garrett Stenberg for the 1-0 lead. Chuckran followed suit on a power play several minutes later when Emerson Emery found him alone in front of Stenberg for the quick score.

The Knights appeared to be destined for a 2-0 lead after one, but with 42 seconds left in the first, the Junior Flyers nabbed a late-period strike to halve the deficit. Connor Lenaghan beat Knights goalie Thomas Walker on a scramble around the net created by Billy McDevitt and Drew Platt.

When play picked up again in the second, it was Philadelphia building off the momentum of their score in the first. The Junior Flyers flipped the script, out-shooting the Knights 10-6 and nullifying each of their chances. For their part, the Knights would withstand Philadelphia’s attack for 19 of the second period’s 20 minutes. It would be yet another final-minute goal that would tie the contest. Nick Kiemel rallied the Junior Flyers to their second goal of the afternoon off feeds from Adrian Martinez and Gianni Dini.

Renewed push from both sides saw an uptick in physicality in the third. Each side traded an unsuccessful power play, while Walker and Stenberg stayed steady to keep the score locked at two. With overtime nearly a forgone conclusion, the Knights prepared a final push to close the period. They were rewarded just shy of the 19:00 mark when Jake Nimeh ripped home his sixth goal of the season, with assists coming from Bryan Whelan and Austin Weber.

With a minute remaining, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shut down the Junior Flyers last-ditch efforts to secure the 3-2 victory. The win pulls the Knights within two points of fourth place in the South Conference with two games to play in the regular season. The Knights will next take the ice at home against the Philadelphia Revolution on Friday March, 2nd at 4:00 PM EST. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and easternhockeyleague.org for all news and updates as the Knights prepare for their playoff push!

EHL: Knights Bounce Back to Split Weekend with Oilers

Photo: EHL

On Sunday, the Knights took their second try at besting the Connecticut Oilers following their 4-2 loss Saturday. In round two, it was Connecticut that would provide the game’s first tally. Ryan Brand hammered a shot through Thomas Walker just shy of the halfway point of the first period (Ryan Kheir, Kieran Kennedy).

In their second showdown in as many days, Walker and Olof Djurberg continued their steady play as the pair fended off extended possessions in front of their respective creases. The Knights penalty kill also flexed its discipline as it failed to allow a goal in three first-period chances. At the first 20 minutes’ conclusion, the Oilers would hold a slim lead in a hard-fought first period.

The Knights were quick to draw even to open the second. After Djurberg denied three solid chances from the Knights, a fourth found the stick of Tyler Watungwa in front of the net for the tip-in equalizer. The goal came as a byproduct of assists from William Case and Tyler Nielsen, but was born out of a strong forecheck and puck-movement by all five Knights in the attacking zone.

Though both offenses created solid opportunities throughout the middle frame, it took most of the period for either attack to finish on said chances. At 18:13, Connecticut re-took the lead on Val Serdlov’s third goal of the weekend, set up by Kennedy and Keegan Lewis.

The lead would last all of 97 seconds, as in the final minute of the second period, Nate Chuckran fired a shot on goal that leaked through the pads of Djurberg to even the game once more.

The late-period score paved the way for more Knights momentum in the third. Just over a minute and a half in, Emerson Emery collected a Chuckran feed and pushed it home to provide Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with its first lead of the game.

Connecticut would force a golden opportunity to answer after their heavy play drew two Knights penalties just past the 5:00 point of the period. With 1:46 of 5-on-3 time, The Oilers were kept at bay by Thomas Walker’s heady play in net and the penalty kill’s sound positioning, moving the Knights to a perfect 5/5 shorthanded performance on the afternoon.

The cancellation of both penalties catapulted the Knights into the period’s final minutes with a one-goal lead. With the net empty, the Oilers applied strong pressure down the home stretch, but could not solve Walker, who made 42 saves on the day. When the clock hit zero, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton skated off with a 4-2 victory.

The team will next be in action on Saturday, February 24th when the Knights play host to the Philadelphia Junior Flyers. Puck drop is at 3:45 pm EST and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com, www.easternhockeyleague.org, and Knights social media on Facebook (WBS Knights Hockey), Twitter (@WBSKnightsEHL), and Instagram (@wbsknights) to stay up to date with the latest news and happenings!