As the Knights began their two week trip to Alaska, the team went searching for the success that had eluded them for the majority of January and early February. Their third head-to-head with the Brown Bears marked their first trip to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex this season. It began well: Knights captain Curtis Carlson buried his 14th goal of the season off assists from Matt Kidney and Anthony Firriolo seven and a half minutes into the contest.
The first period carried on without further scoring despite two power plays for the Brown Bears. Knights starter David Tomeo brought his a-game to the crease as he stopped all shots sent his way in an evenly played first.
It would be Kenai River to come out swinging in the second. Filip Karlsson tied the game at 6:59 with assists from Gil Garcia and Lukas Millen. Gavin Enright hunkered down in net for the Brown Bears, as the ’99 birth year kept the Knights off the board for the better part of the period.
Sutton McDonald would score next for Kenai River, supplying their first lead at 16:43, with Michael Spethmann and Luke Posner credited with the helpers on the score. The Knights would get the goal back less than two minutes later when Tomas Koblizek found Gabe Temple for his fourth marker of the year.
In the third, Mike Gelatt would find the back of the net to retake the lead for the Knights just 2:27 in. Kenai River would redouble their efforts to try to find the equalizer, mounting 16 shots on goal in the period, but David Tomeo didn’t blink.
Through two penalty kills and a chippy finish to game one, the Knights held on to kick off their road trip with a win. Elemental to the victory were the Knights strong penalty kill and Tomeo’s steadiness in net, recording 32 saves on 34 shots.
In Saturday’s rematch, the Knights would again jump out to a quick start. Luke Robinson and Curtis Carlson would find Matt Kidney, who bested former Knights goalie Kevin Lake at 1:01. The Brown Bears wouldn’t rest easy with the deficit, scoring just one minute later when David Kaplan fired a heavy wrist shot by Knights starter David Tomeo to even the score (Markuss Komuls, Cameron McDonald). The Carlson line struck back at 4:02, when Carlson drove in and fired a puck past Lake for the 2-1 lead (Engelkes, Kidney).
An eventful first half of the opening period would be capped off by Joe Rosa’s power play goal at 8:02. After killing off all six power plays in game one, the Knights penalty kill struggled to get back on track Saturday. Former Knight defenseman Markuss Komuls made a nice play to keep the zone before firing the puck to the net. Michael Spethmann pushed a puck off Tomeo’s pads before Joe Rosa put the bouncing puck home to tie the game at two. The goal brought Christian Stoever on in relief of Tomeo.
Early in the second, the Knights forecheck would begin dictating tempo and forcing odd-man rushes. Two and a half minutes into the period, Jack Olmstead handed the puck to Tyrone Bronte who fed a perfect stretch pass to Mike Gelatt to create an odd-man break. Gelatt finished the rush by burying the puck by Lake for the 3-2 lead.
Again the Brown Bears would answer quickly, and again on the power play. Cameron McDonald and Filip Karlsson created a rebound in front of Stoever that Gil Garcia eventually shoveled home to once again even the score.
For the remainder of regulation, the Knights would continually force the issue in the offensive zone and off the rush. Again and again they would be turned away by Lake, who made 24 saves on 25 shots over the final two periods of play, staring down multiple odd-man rushes in the process.
Stoever, for his part, turned away 29 of 30 through the remainder of the contest. As regulation proved inconclusive, 3-on-3 overtime brought with it an abundance of chances on the Soldotna’s Olympic-sized sheet. Both Stoever and Lake traded grade-a saves to force the shootout.
Lake stopped Justin Engelkes and Curtis Carlson in rounds one and two, while Stoever denied his first challenger in Emils Ezitis. Sacha Guillemain squeezed a puck through in round two, forcing the onus on Matt Kidney to try and force a bottom of the third. Lake stopped him to secure the shootout win and the second point.
With the weekend split, the Knights did come away with three out of four points. They’ll look to continue their recent success with a road trip to Fairbanks next weekend. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media (Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey, Twitter and Instagram @WBSKnights) for all news and updates!
Coming off a 5-3 win Friday night, the Knights looked to travel to New Jersey for a weekend sweep of the Titans. They were welcomed rudely by Tyler Antonucci who pushed a goal past Knights starter Christian Stoever just 27 seconds into the first period (Tate Singleton, Wade Novak).
Knights first-round pick and Michigan Tech commitment, Gabe Temple responded under three minutes later when EHL affiliate player Tyler Nielsen fed him the puck to even the score and give Nielsen his first point in his NAHL career. Tomas Koblizek recorded the secondary assist.
A trade of saves between Stoever and Titans starter Matt Ladd lasted until 14:05, when Andrew Husted scored off the set up from Gavin Gulash and Jimmy Dowd Jr. to give the Titans back the lead. The teams headed to the dressing room with 20 combined shots on goal.
In the second, the shot count would climb to 22 as each side cracked double digits, but sound penalty-killing, and solid goaltending led to a scoreless 17 minutes. Ryan Wheeler would end the drought at 17:09 with Todd Goehring serving him up his third goal of the season, building the Titans a 3-1 advantage. Wade Novak wouldn’t let the period conclude quietly, scoring unassisted with 20 seconds remaining in the middle-stanza.
Entering the third, the Knights lost a key piece of their lineup after Reed Robinson was served a five minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind penalty just 4:21 in. The Knights would rally on the ensuing shift to score a shorthanded goal when Luke Robinson found Michael Morrisey for the score, trimming the deficit to two.
A Titans penalty halfway through the major would result in most of the remaining penalty time being spent playing 4-on-4. The Titans were able to push their fifth goal home at 7:27 when Jimmy Dowd Jr. scored via assists from Andrew Husted and Chris Garbe.
Jack Olmstead would keep the Knights afloat with his 17th goal of the season at 12:51, as Matt Kidney found his fellow winger for the duo’s fifth and sixth combined points of the weekend series.
The Titans would put any hopes of a comeback to rest less than a minute later when Kyle Jeffers scored to rebuild New Jersey’s three-goal lead (Hunter Alden, Holden Biebel).
The rest of regulation wound down without another score, handing the Knights their 11th regulation loss of the season. The team did go without allowing a power play goal on the evening, blanking a New Jersey power play unit that recorded a pair of scores the night prior. Jack Olmstead and Matt Kidney each extended their point streaks to three games, while Mike Morrissey has an active, two-game streak of his own.
The Knights will look to bounce back next weekend when they host the Johnstown Tomahawks at the Revolution Ice Centre starting Friday, January 26th at 7:30 pm for Scouts Night. Check out details for the evening devoted to the Boy Scouts of Northeast Pennsylvania here. The second game of the series will be Saturday, January 27th at 7:30 pm. Tune into both games on myhockeytv.com! Follow Knights social media and visit www.wbsknights.com to stay up to date on all news!
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!
Fresh off Christmas and holiday festivities, the Knights returned to home ice on Friday to take on the Kenai River Brown Bears. The first of four meetings between the pair kicked off quickly in favor of the home team.
Just 3:37 into play, Matt Kidney notched his 10th goal of the season when he fired a Jack Olmstead rebound past Brown Bears starting goalie Artur Pavliukov. Paul Cimilluca picked up a secondary assist for his third helper of the season.
The Knights kept their foot on the gas pedal largely dictating play through the opening 20 minutes. The back check limited quality chances on starting goaltender David Tomeo, while the forecheck spent ample time in the attacking end.
Curtis Carlson capped off the strong period when off a faceoff win, the Knights captain fed a pass to Matt Kidney waiting in the middle of the slot. Kidney flipped his second goal of the night past Pavliukov to send the Knights to the first intermission with a multi-goal lead.
Three minutes into the second, during a stretch of 4-on-4 play, Gabe Temple followed Carlson’s example, immediately flipping a face off win to Justin Engelkes in the slot. Engelkes hammered a one-timer to the twine for his seventh goal of the season and a 3-0 Knights lead.
Tomeo and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense weathered the Brown Bears push-back in the second half of the period before the Knights drew a penalty at 15:52. 16 seconds into the team’s third power play of the evening, Reed Robinson fired a puck home to build a 4-0 lead. Adrian Danchenko and Blake Kryska registered the assists.
The final frame of regulation kicked off with the Knights on the penalty kill. The Brown Bears, owners of one of the NAHL’s most potent power plays, capitalized on their third turn on the man advantage, when Gil Garcia ripped a shot from the slot by Tomeo for Kenai River’s first goal (Sacha Guillemain, Cameron McDonald).
The goal swung momentum to the Brown Bears forecheck, as they drew three more penalties in the first five minutes of the third. The Knights penalty kill and Tomeo combined to erase the remainder of the penalties taken, but Kenai River continued to force Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to chase in their own zone.
At 6:59, Gabriel Wahl fed former Knight Markuss Komuls whose rebound found Connor Fedorek pinching down from the blue line. Fedorek picked the puck up in the slot and weaved it around Tomeo to narrow the deficit to two.
Determined to squash the comeback effort, the Knights offense found a renewed rhythm and resumed their offensive on Artur Pavliukov’s crease. The Lithuanian netminder stood tall in a gritty effort that even saw him briefly leave the ice after sustaining a minor injury in the second.
Despite Pavliukov’s best efforts, including 42 total saves and one robbery of Jack Olmstead, Curtis Carlson put the game to bed at 13:56. Set up by Lincoln Hatten and Luke Robinson, Carlson fired a puck from the right circle through traffic and Pavliukov to put the Knights ahead by three.
Despite multiple penalties being assessed to both sides through the final five minutes of play, the 5-2 score held through the final horn. With the win, the Knights improve to 19-7-3, placing them just one point behind the Philadelphia Rebels for first place in the East Division. They’ll have the opportunity to regain the top spot in round two of Knights-Brown Bears today at 2:30 pm. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com, with live updates being posted to Knights Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
KNIGHTS ALUMNI: SPRONG RECALLED TO PITTSBURGH
Former Knights forward and current Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong was recalled to the NHL from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins roster today. Sprong played for the Knights Bantam Major team in the 2011-12 season, helping them to a national championship title. Through 29 games in the AHL this season, the 2015 NHL second-round pick has scored 18 goals and 10 assists. The Knights are happy for Daniel and wish him the best of luck in Pittsburgh!
On Friday, the Knights entered Johnstown with the NAHL’s and East Division’s second-highest point total. They left the 1st Summit Arena at the Cambria County War Memorial in first place across the board. Getting there wasn’t easy.
A back-and-forth first period saw Wilkes-Barre/Scranton mount 11 shots on Johnstown’s veteran goalie Britt League. He answered them all. The Tomahawks responded with seven offerings on Knights starter Christian Stoever. Tomahawks forward Christian Gorscak squeezed the lone goal of the first past Stoever at 9:08 on the set up by Andrew Andary and Pavel Kharin.
In the second period the Knights would continue to plug away, increasing their shot total to 24 on League, while Stoever turned away all eight shots sent on his net in the frame. The Knights continued pressure was rewarded when at 6:31, when Michael Morrissey found Reed Robinson with space above the circles on a power play. The big-bodied forward continued his stellar season when he walked the puck down, picked his spot and fired a dart past League to tie the game at one with his 10th goal of the season.
The game went to the third period gridlocked 1-1. The Knights broke the tie when Jack Olmstead lofted a long stretch pass to Matt Kidney behind the defense. Kidney marched in on goal alone and ripped a shot by League to give the Knights the 2-1 lead.
It appeared the advantage would be the final score as time ran down to the final seconds with Tomahawks still trailing and their net emptied. Instead, in regulation’s final moments, Samuel Solensky dug a puck out of a pile on the Knights half wall, sent it behind the net, where Andy Nedeljkovic centered it in front to a crashing Toby Sengvongxay. Sengvongxay pushed the puck past Stoever with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to force OT.
In the three-on-three extra time, neither side could solve each other’s netminder as Stoever and League stood down all chances on goal. The game moved to the shootout, and with the transition continued each goalie’s stellar play. Through the first two rounds, neither team scored. In round three, Reed Robinson buried his chance to give the Knights an opportunity to win. Andy Nedeljkovic kept his clutch night going by tying the shootout with a last-chance effort in the bottom of the third.
In hockey’s version of extra innings neither team found the net in the next three rounds. Christian Stoever made two incredible saves in rounds five and six to rob Sam Solensky and Donovan Ott. Stoever’s save on Solensky came off a great move in front, while Ott was robbed with a mid-air puck deflection off of Stoever’s stick.
In the top of the 7th round, Knights first-round pick Gabe Temple ripped a puck past League to again move his team into the lead. Faced with another last-chance, down the ice came Tomahawks captain Cade Groton to attempt to tie the contest once more. He drove hard to the front of the net, but Stoever went down and turned the puck away for the Knights victory.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s fifth-straight win, and 10th-straight game with a point or more, now moves the team to 13-3-3. Their 29 points leads the East Division and the NAHL. They’ll look to keep their hot streak going with another competition in Johnstown tonight. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm EST. The game can be viewed on http://www.hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to Knights social media and nahl.com for updates!
Entering their seventh contest in the past two weeks, the Knights were not looking ahead at their impending weekend off. Instead, they were fixated on the team in front of them in the East Division-the undefeated Philadelphia Rebels.
In their two prior meetings, the Knights took two losses: a 2-1 defeat in regulation and a 5-4 loss in overtime. This time, on their own ice, and with a full roster, the Knights looked to respond.
It was the Rebels on Friday who struck the game’s initial blow. Following a Knights slashing penalty just a minute and a half into the game, the Rebels made quick work of a steady Knights penalty kill, one that ranked just .02% behind the 5th-ranked Rebels PK entering the day. Following crisp puck movement around the perimeter of the Knights zone, Auggie Moore found a rebound off the pads of Knights goalie David Tomeo, firing it by for the 1-0 lead (Diarmard DiMurro, Andrew Bellant).
For a brief stretch following the score, it appeared the Rebels would establish their fast-paced forecheck that had bested all opponents faced this season. Instead, the Knights would awake as the period wound on, implementing a physical forecheck to counter the Rebels shiftiness and speed.
With the pace of play and shots evening out as the period ticked down to its final seconds, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton attack forced the Rebels to send a puck out of play in their own end. With just seconds to spare, Anthony Firriolo fired a Tyrone Bronte faceoff win to the net where Justin Engelkes tipped the puck through the pads of Rebels starting goalie Ryan Keane. Firriolo’s assist is his fifth in four games since joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The tally on a goaltender that entered the contest with a 0.80 GAA and a .964 save percentage bolstered the Knights confidence heading into the dressing room. Off the opening face off of the second, Adrian Danchenko knifed and dangled his way toward Keane’s net before the puck rolled off his stick and onto Keane’s left pad. The save sent the puck to a waiting Tyrone Bronte, who ripped the puck past the netminder to give the Knights a 2-1 lead. Justin Engelkes picked up the secondary assist.
Not relenting, the Knights continued their heavy blitz up ice, not letting Keane get comfortable as they peppered him with 18 shots in the middle frame. The Rebels responded with pressure, and tested Dave Tomeo, but the netminder proved unflappable in the crease, turning away multiple chances with a quick glove. The second ended with no additional scoring, as both teams were left hungry for another goal heading into the third.
Gabe Temple, the Knights 2017-18 first-round pick, found the insurance the team needed just 3:07 into the final stanza. Fed by Matt Kidney and Tom Farrell, Temple drilled a dart top shelf, past Keane for a two-goal lead the first goal of his Knights career. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would continue to be bolstered by Tomeo in net, who stopped 26 of 27 on the afternoon, and clamped down on the Rebels as time ticked away.
As the game shortened, the ice lengthened for Philadelphia as the Knights continually hammered pucks deep into the Philadelphia zone. Forced to repeatedly Rebels chase and reset, time ran out on their effort to come back, and the Knights skated to the 3-1 victory.
Now 9-3-3 on the season, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finds themselves just three points behind first place in the east division. They’ve now recorded a point or more in six-straight games, going 4-0-2 in that span. They’ll receive a well-earned weekend off, before traveling to play Northeast in a three-game set to open November.
The need for speed was well satisfied for those inside the Revolution Ice Centre Friday afternoon. The newly minted Philadelphia Rebels, fresh off their move from Aston, met the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights for an early September-scrimmage.
The Knights opened the competition at a blistering pace as their crop of new players established an aggressive tempo from opening face off, outshooting the Rebels 23-7 in the first frame.
Despite this, Philadelphia goalie Ryan Keane kept the Knights off the board through a period and a half of play, before he was pulled midway through the second. The agile netminder stopped all 30 shots he faced before the Rebels changed goalies.
The Rebels were the first team to score midway through the second period, pushing a puck through a scrum in front, past a diving Christian Stoever.
Shortly after, Stoever took an early seat to allow Kevin Lake a turn in goal as a part of the preseason rotation. The Knights added their first goal as the minutes wound down in the second, when Josh Fricks collected his own rebound and weaved his way around the goalie for the score. Tyrone Bronte was credited the primary and Kyrill Ulanov the secondary apples on the tally.
Minutes later, the Rebels inadvertently aided the Knights cause; on a delayed penalty call against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Rebels pulled their goalie. A miscommunication along the benches during a Rebels change sent an errant pass banking off the sideboards, back and into the vacant Philadelphia net, giving the Knights a 2-1 lead at the end of two.
Fricks continued his blistering afternoon with an early goal in the third on a slick set up from Bronte down low, while Lincoln Hatten was credited with an assist as well.
The Knights continued to needle crisp passes through the offensive zone when Jack Olmstead sifted Gabe Temple a pass inside the blue line. Temple split a pair before flicking a pass back to Olmstead, who drew the goalie out of the net with a quick deke and score, building a 4-1 Knights lead. Kyrill Ulanov picked up his second helper of the day with the secondary.
Jake Fuss set up the game’s final goal when he fired a cross-slot pass to a crashing Tyler Nielsen, who put puck to twine to finalize a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5-1 victory.
Next week the Knights open their NAHL regular season at home with a 7:30 pm face off against the New Jersey Titans. To buy tickets in advance, call (570) 883-1100 or email [email protected]
A balanced group of forwards look to bolster Knights attack in 2017-18
With each year, a new crop of Knights arrives at the Revolution Ice Centre to make their case for an NAHL roster spot. This year is no exception as large shoes have been left to fill by the team’s most recent departures. Gone are forwards Joe Schuler and Sam Antonitsch, who are headed to Colby College and Europe, respectively, while veteran Paul Maust will be vying for a spot in the USHL.
On the ice, that leaves a significant loss of production to replace. Maust was second on the team in points last year, while Antonitsch was tied for second in goals. Schuler brought top-shelf toughness and steady defensive play with each shift, particularly on the penalty kill. All three were vocal members of the locker room, with years of experience playing junior hockey.
Beyond replacing players moving on, there are other roster spots open to competition. The good news for the Knights-they have many skilled and hard-working applicants.
The International Pool
In the NAHL, teams are allowed four players from outside the US on their roster. Last season, imports Dorian Dawson, Markuss Komuls and Sam Antonitsch were major pieces in the Knights lineup.
Tender Dominik Bogdziul was unable to make it to main camp, but his skill and resume are more than worthy of bringing him to training camp.
The Lithuanian has spent the last two years stateside, playing in the NA3HL. In 85 games, he registered 63 goals and 105 assists.
“Dominik creates a ton of space and offense for his teammates,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “His speed along with his skillset make him a threat all over the ice.”
Alongside his impressive play in the US, the ’98 birth year has represented his home country in four consecutive seasons at the World Junior Classic in both the U18 and U20 age groups.
Tender Tyrone Bronte is a forward from Australia. The ’99 birth year has played in the NAPHL 18U for the past two seasons, scoring 21-35-56 in 48 games. Like Bogdziul, he has represented his country at World Juniors. For Australia’s U18 team, he scored six goals and six assists in five games last season on his way to a D2B gold-medal finish.
“Tyrone brings great offensive instincts and skills to our organization right away,” said Knights head scout Justin Schreiber. “He thinks the game really well, which pushed him to lead the NAPHL in scoring this past year.”
Tomas Koblizek is a big-bodied, 17-year old turning heads wherever he goes. The Czechoslovakian forward is eligible for the 2018 NHL draft and has even achieved top-100 ranking by some NHL draft pundits.
“Tomas is a player that’s already proven himself at an international level,” said Schreiber. “He was a point-per-game player last year at the U17 World Hockey Challenge against the best 2000’s in the world. We are excited to see what he can do with his impressive offensive skillset in North America.”
Koblizek couples a 6-2, 180-pound frame with a knack for generating plays. He picked up five assists in five games in the World Hockey Challenge last season. He’s spent most of his career playing in the Czech U16 and U18 leagues with 139 points in the past four years.
Kiryll Ulanov, son of NHL and KHL veteran Igor Ulanov, is looking to form his own legacy as he moves forward in his hockey career.
The forward’s towering 6-4 frame was hard to miss at camp, and so too was his day-two performance in which he picked up three assists on three consecutive goals. The lefty has prior experience playing junior hockey in Canada.
Expectations were high for Josh Fricks as he entered main camp. In 2016-17, he tallied 23 goals and 35 assists in 40 games played with the Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18.
“Josh is an extremely gifted and skilled forward who put up a ton of points this year with his midget U18 team,” said Whiteside. “We feel that Josh will complement our returning core group of forwards right away.”
Watching his electric speed at main camp left no doubt that the Knights excitement for the ‘98 forward is well-warranted. Veteran Matt Kidney tabbed Fricks as one of the most impressive players he saw at camp, as the pair played three games together, often on the same line.
“He’s opened my eyes pretty wide,” said Kidney. “He’s very fast, a little bit like Curtis Carlson.”
Jack Olmstead isn’t a stranger to the Knights. He played in two NAHL games as an affiliate player last year, scoring his first NAHL goal and flashing impressive hands and speed in his audition. The staff liked what they saw from the 19-year old off the ice as well.
“The biggest thing that jumps out at you when you see Jack play is his character,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He just plays the game the right way; he’s a high character guy on and off the ice and has a ton of offensive skill.”
The lefty forward continued the trend of impressive showings from tenders at camp by showing off quick hands and a hearty helping of skill. He emerged as a leading scorer, with 2-2-4 in four games, plus two game-winning goals in shootouts.
The Draft Class
Gabe Temple, the Knights most recent first-round pick, displayed the power element to his game, working alongside veteran Mike Gelatt for portions of camp. It was while playing alongside the latter when Temple took a slick pass and flipped it backhand for a slick goal.
“It’s a little bit faster here,” said Temple on his main camp impressions. “There’s a lot of good guys here with a lot of skill. It’s pretty fun though, I like the competitiveness. I’m a big forward, I can put the puck in the net, I make plays, I have a lot of speed.”
“Gabe projects as an impact player,” said Whiteside. “That blend of talent and want-to is something we value highly on our team.”
As with any member of their draft class, the Knights were eager to see what fifth-round pick Lincoln Hatten would bring to the ice at main camp. At each stage of the scouting process, the Dallas Stars U16 product made an impression on those the Knights sent to scout him.
“He’s a player who got better every time we evaluated him,” said Whiteside. “He’s a skilled, big forward and stood out on one of the better midget rosters in the country.”
Hatten was a consistent force across the ice at camp, showing a finishing ability to accompany his bruising tenacity, registering three goals and two assists in four games played.
Tucker Chapman, the team’s sixth round pick, is a long-time veteran of the USHS playing in his home state of Minnesota. Chapman was a standout there, finishing in the top five in goals, assists, points, and games played in Lourdes Eagles history (per eliteprospects.com).
“Tucker is a skilled forward that uses his elite skating ability to create space for himself on the rush,” said Schreiber.
A local product from Shavertown, Pennsylvania, Chris McGrath came to camp with a strong pedigree. His brother Patrick plays for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. McGrath, a former member of the Knights 16UA teams from 2012-2014, held his own at Knights main camp, scoring goals on both day one and two before playing in both all-star games on day three.
Another former Knight returning to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area is Alex Rowella. After playing youth hockey within the organization until 2015, he has spent the last two years in his home state of Connecticut playing for the EHL’s Connecticut Oilers. A 6-1, 190-pound ‘97, Rowella is coming off a strong season in which he scored 20 goals and 17 assists in 47 games.
Rounding out the forwards is yet another familiar face in Tyler Uravage. Like Rowella, Uravage played at various levels of Knights youth hockey until 2015. He spent last season with the Binghamton Jr. Senators of the NA3HL, lighting up the score sheet with 33-69-102 in 52 games. At main camp, he skated well alongside NAHL veterans Paul Maust and Reed Robinson, picking up three goals and two assists in five games played.
Back in 2016, Knights 2017 second-round pick Justin Engelkes was selected in the 2016 USHL Futures Draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers. As such, he’ll attempt to make their roster in the coming weeks. If he does not, the Knights can add him back to their own. The talented two-way skater offers versatility and physicality, and is already committed to play division one hockey for Miami University (Ohio).
“Justin is another quality two-way forward that plays the NAHL-style game,” said Schreiber. “He plays a very aggressive, physical style of hockey and can put the puck in the net as well.”
With main camp in the rear-view mirror, this young group will soon be competing to make the Knights roster to start the season. The best teams often must make hard decisions come roster cut deadlines, and in that regard, the coaching staff will have a lot to think about. With that said, those are the types of decisions that put together good hockey teams that produce great hockey players.
The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.
With eyes ahead, team enjoys productive, competitive opening to camp
The Knights took the Pennsylvania heat to the ice Wednesday afternoon as they forge ahead to write their next chapter in the NAHL. The talent that took the ice on Wednesday mixed speed and grit with NAHL tenure and fresh legs.
“It’s very evident that our assistant coach Andrew Whiteside and head scout Justin Schreiber, two guys who head our scouting program and our recruiting, along with all the others that have helped us, that they’ve really done a great job this past year,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “They pounded the pavement. We have eight teams with a lot of great talent and that’s a good problem to have.”
Over the course of the past year, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staff has been scouring the hockey world for talent to bring to the 2017-18 season and beyond. Main Camp not only brings together the subjects of their search, but tests their scouting through competition.
“It is big week for us,” said Knights head scout Justin Schreiber. “Andrew Whiteside and I spent a ton of time on the road, and this week is kind of the culmination of everything. It all comes together-draft picks, tenders, and returners. This week is big. That being said, the games today were really high-paced. I’m pretty impressed with the level of play. I’m excited to see what carries over to day two.”
Formed from a massive pool of Knights veterans, tenders, draft picks, and invitees, eight teams played four games this afternoon. They’ll play eight more games tomorrow before the camp roster is trimmed into two all-star teams. Those teams will fill out the remaining available spots on the Knights roster.
“We want guys who play with grit, said Schreiber.” It’s important for us to find forwards that mix that skill and grit together and defenseman that are both gritty and mean-guys that have a little gravel in their gut. We want guys who bring the lunch pail and their boots to work every day and at the end of the day, we want our team to be really hard to play against. I think that showed itself here on day one.”
Returning veterans wasted little time in making an impression. As last season’s leading scorer, it only was only fitting that Matt Kidney would punctuate his team’s game one victory by burying a shot top shelf from just inside the blue line. Mike Gelatt rattled the boards down low, Paul Cimilluca potted a goal off a 2-on-1 rush, Mike Morrissey consistently inhabited his opponent’s crease, Curtis Carlson blazed through back-checkers to create chances, while Paul Maust and Reed Robinson took turns putting pucks in the twine. When they weren’t on the ice, the same players were engaged off of it, attentively following each game, eagerly surveying each potential new team mate.
“They’re the ones that get us going,” said Kowal. “They set the bench mark. It’s their job right now. I told them, that veterans have to be veterans. They’re not rookies anymore. Those are the guys that have to lead the charge. If we don’t have good leaders, we’re not going to have a good hockey team. I’ve really been pretty hard on my veterans this past summer to make sure they’ve been working out, to make sure they’re ready. So far I’m pretty happy with the way they are looking right now. Even walking in, they look bigger. They’re buying into the organization’s standard right now. Just making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore. We’re going into our third season-round one isn’t good enough. We need a round two-we need a round trip to have a successful season.”
While the veterans set an early tone, newer players made their impacts known. Tendered defenseman Blake Kryska notched two goals in his first game. Tom Farrell, a big blue-liner who, like Kryska, spent a few games with the Knights last season, tallied a goal in his first game as well. Goalie Dave Tomeo, once a Knights opponent, was calm and steady in between the pipes.
Draft pick Lincoln Hatten showed off an impressive combo of size and speed, creating a few odd-man advantages by streaking past the last defender. First round pick Gabe Temple displayed impressive stick handling as he appeared unrelenting in attacking the offensive zone. Christian Stoever, the lone goalie selected by the Knights in this year’s draft, impressed with several acrobatic saves.
All newcomers and veterans will get another chance tomorrow to make an impression as the Knights take further stock of their new roster. For the players that in camp only by invitation, Kowal offered encouragement.
“They should just be who they are,” said Kowal, “We can only draft and tender so many guys. There’s a lot of great hockey players out there. It seems like every year-and I’ve been doing this for 15 years-a kid that we didn’t draft, didn’t tender, a kid who hasn’t played a game for me in his life makes the team. It’s just that blue-chipper that no one knows who slips through the cracks, that comes out here and has a really good weekend, impresses our staff, and ends up being a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knight.”
Game one begins at 8:30 am as Navy takes on Purple.
The Knights crossed two major items off their offseason checklist following Tuesday’s NAHL Entry Draft. With eight new draft picks in the fold, the team is another step closer to completing construction of their 2017-18 roster.
“It was a good week,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “Between finishing out our tender class and our draft class, we’ve added some impressive talent to bring to camp.”
With the 12th overall selection in the draft, the Knights made Gabe Temple, a right-handed forward from Fowlerville, Michigan, their first pick.
“Gabe is a skilled, gritty forward,” said Knights NAHL assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “He’s an impressive skater; he plays bigger than his size, and he’s ahead of the curve with his hockey smarts.”
The 2000 birth year, already standing at 6 feet and 183-pounds, made a name for himself playing in the T1EHL U16 for Victory Honda U16 last season. He scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 32 regular season games and built on that with 2-7-9 in four playoff games.
Turning 17 in just two weeks, the Knights top pick is already committed to playing division one hockey for Michigan Tech in the WCHA.
“Gabe projects as an impact player,” said Whiteside. “That blend talent and want-to is something we value highly on our team.”
The Knights dipped into a talented pool of offensive prospects again by taking Justin Engelkes, a left-handed forward from Verona, Wisconsin in round two. Another 2000-born prospect, Engelkes’ potential has earned him a college commitment to Miami University (Ohio).
“Justin is another quality two-way forward that plays the NAHL-style game,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He plays a very aggressive, physical style of hockey and can put the puck in the net as well.”
At 5-11, 185 and still room to grow, Engelkes brings with him the valuable experience of playing 37 games for Team Wisconsin U16 last year. That was supplemented by six games in the USHS and five games at the USA-S16 development camp in which he scored three goals and three assists in five games played.
In round three, the Knights spent the first of two picks on Riley Prattson, a ’99 forward from the Selects Hockey Academy 18U. With the selection, the Knights added a third player already-committed to play division one hockey. Set to skate for Providence College in 2018-19, Prattson immediately brings scoring touch to the Knights roster.
“He’s a fast, skilled scorer,” said Whiteside. “He might not be the biggest player, but his speed and ability to get up ice and make plays with the puck are dangerous.”
A right-handed shot, Prattson has been an offensive asset every stop of the way in his young hockey career, most recently scoring four goals and seven assists in five games played in the USPHL 18U.
The California-native has partaken in USA Selects Development Camps in each of the last three years. This past trip saw him pick up four goals and three helpers in five contests.
After Prattson was taken with the 57th pick, the Knights used pick number 58 on goalie Christian Stoever.
“Christian is a super-talented, young goaltender that will be able to jump in and play juniors right away,” said Schreiber. “We are very excited about Christian’s future and his time in the Knights crease.”
Stoever joins Gabe Temple as the second member of Victory Honda U16 to join the Knights roster, where Stoever played in 19 games last season.
With an 8-6-1 record and a 2.74 GAA, the Northville, Michigan-native will have an opportunity to help fill the crease following the departure of Grant Valentine.
The fourth round saw the Knights add Mason Klee as the lone blue-liner in the team’s 2017 draft class. A two-year veteran of the Colorado Thunderbirds, Klee built off a strong U16 season in 2015-16 with an even more productive U18 performance last year.
With four goals and nine assists in 31 games, the righty, ’99 birth year proved his dependability is not limited to his own end of the ice.
“Mason is a versatile defenseman that can make plays at both ends of the ice,” said Schreiber. “We valued his skating ability and his poise to keep things simple and not make mistakes under pressure.”
In round five, the Knights went back to the offense, bolstering their forecheck with the addition of Lincoln Hatten. A 2000-birth year with a 6 foot 2 inch frame, Hatten makes an impact with his physicality up and down the ice.
“He’s a player who got better every time we evaluated him,” said Whiteside. “He’s a skilled, big forward and stood out on one of the better midget rosters in the country.”
Hatten scored nine goals and 12 assists in 21 regular season games for the Dallas Stars U16 team in the T1EHL in 2016-17. He added two more assists in the playoffs, confirming the right-handed shot’s ability to contribute consistently in the offensive zone.
With their sixth round pick, the Knights added another righty forward in Tucker Chapman. Chapman has spent the last five years as a mainstay for the Lourdes Eagles of the USHS, finishing 2nd in school history in games played (128), 3rd in goals (60), 5th in assists (44) and 4th in points (104) per eliteprospects.com.
“Tucker is a skilled forward that uses his elite skating ability to create space for himself on the rush,” said Schreiber. “We expect Tucker to come in and contribute for the Knights right away.”
In the seventh round, the Knights made their final selection with the pick of Shawn Kennedy.
“Shawn is a player that’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas” said Whiteside. “He’s big, he plays a mature game, and he’ll take the puck right to the net.”
Coming off back-to-back years as a CCHL Champion with the Carleton Place Canadians, the Ontario-native has been a consistent producer of points and minutes. In 127 games over the past two seasons, Kennedy has recorded 27 goals and 38 assists between the regular season and playoffs.
“He’s a big, power, two-way forward with a really high upside.”
With the eight draft picks and ten tenders, the Knights have completed their 30-man protected list this week by adding 11 forwards, five defensmen and two goaltenders.
“We feel good about the balance of this group in their ages, talents and past experience,” said Kowal of his new crop of players. “Having a lot of guys with multiple years of junior eligibility left gives our coaches a lot of upside to work with.”
Of the 18 players added from the draft and tender process, there are four players born in 1998, seven in 1999, and seven in 2000.
“We have a good veteran core coming back from last year’s team. Four of our tenders played and practiced with our NAHL team last year and another played in our division. Between our staff and having those veterans to help teach these younger players really gives us confidence in their development and how our roster is shaping up heading into next season.”
With much of the offseason major lifting under way there’s still much work to be done. The Knights will host an Open Camp in St. Paul, Minnesota June 16th to the 18th, open to any 1997-2001 birth year interested in trying out for the Knights.