Tag Archives: Eli Billing

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!

Friday Final: Knights 4, Rebels 2

Friday’s match up with the Philadelphia Rebels pitted the Knights against their division rivals for the fourth consecutive game. Having lost the prior three meetings, the Knights entered play determined to reverse the course of the last week of play.

Christian Stoever and the Knights defenders withstood a barrage of Early Philadelphia chances, as the Rebels jumped out to an early shot advantage of 11-2. The Knights swung the pendulum in the opposite direction near the midway point of the opening period, capitalizing on a failed, yet aggressive power play to build offensive chances.

At the 13:25 mark, Michael Morrissey surprised goalie Eli Billing as he came out to play a puck behind the goal line. Billing was able to hand the puck off to a teammate, but in the hurried exchange, the puck was pulled free by Morrissey. The Knights assistant captain found Jack Olmstead further behind the line, where Olmstead then fed an open Mike Gelatt in front. The other assistant captain buried the puck over the shoulder of the returned Billing to claim the 1-0 lead.

The Knights barrage of chances increased in wake of the goal, and in the period’s final minute they would strike again. Tyrone Bronte, off helpers from Thomas Farrell and Blake Kryska, burst down the right wing and around the last Rebels defender. In the process, the Australian forward cut sharply in front of Billing, who opened the five hole just wide enough for Bronte to slip the puck through, putting the Knights up 2-0 in the final minute of the first.

The lone score of the second period would come quickly, as in the period’s first minute the Rebels committed an early slashing penalty. Instead of the Knights power play cashing in, a quick Wilkes-Barre/Scranton turnover at the top of the Rebels zone turned into a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush the other way. Auggie Moore deftly slid the puck across the Knights zone to a crashing Eric Olson, who ripped a shot past Christian Stoever to halve the Knights lead.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would respond with a heavy dose of shots through the remainder of the man advantage, but Eli Billing (33 saves) had settled in. The ’97 netminder stopped a staggering 20 shots in the period to keep the Knights to just two goals in the game’s first 40 minutes.

In the third period, play slowed through the first 10 minutes. Shots registered in just the single digits as each side played catch through neutral ice. Finally the Knights broke through when Shay Donovan slid a puck to Lincoln Hatten to create a 2-on-1. Hatten, in a mirror image to Olson’s earlier shorthanded assist, slid the puck perfectly across the slot to the streaking Reed Robinson. The Rockwall, Texas native blasted a puck past the sliding Billing to establish a 3-1 lead for the Knights at the 7:12 marker.

The Rebels would not go quietly. After being blanked on their first two power play tries, Philadelphia would return to their usual success, just past the 13:30 mark in the third. Carson Moniz fed Aaron Maguyon, whose shot forced Christian Stoever to make a diving save. While the rebound kicked out to Jensen Zerban, Stoever hit the ice. Unable to reset and stand in time, Stoever (37 saves) and the Knights could only watch as Zerban cranked home his 17th goal of the season, trimming the lead back to one.

With time winding out, both sides fired up their final pushes to a conclusion. With just over a minute remaining, Billing left the net for an extra attacker. Shortly thereafter, Tyrone Bronte broke out of his own zone with a pass through the middle of neutral ice to Adrian Danchenko. With a deft one-touch pass, Danchenko found Matt Kidney in the middle of the offensive zone. Kidney walked the puck to the open net before emphatically slamming the door on the Rebels comeback.

The empty net goal brought about the final score of 4-2, with the Knights securing their 25th win of the season. They’ll look to keep their momentum rolling with a road trip to New Jersey Tonight for a 7:00 pm EST puck drop against the New Jersey Titans. A regulation win would pull the Knights into a tie for second place in the East with the Titans, a spot which Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held for the majority of the season. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com, and follow along on Knights social media:

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