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Game three in the Knights-Titans East Division Semi-Finals brought the competition to the Revolution Ice Centre with the series even at one. Friday’s contest saw the Titans surge out to an early lead.
After hemming the Knights in on a long shift early, the Titans fired a flurry of shots at Knights starter Christian Stoever. After he made saves on the initial Titans offerings, a rebound kicked out to Gavin Gulash on the short side. Gulash buried the puck for the game’s first goal at 2:56. Ryan Naumovski and Nick Boyagian tallied assists in the score. Andrew Husted added to the Titans lead after he deflected Chris Garbe’s shot past Stoever just three minutes later.
The Knights had no shortage of opportunities to respond. The team was stymied on all 12 of their first period shots, in addition to a few quality chances that missed the net of Ladd. In one instance, Ladd denied Jack Olmstead alone in close and then made a diving save to rob Matt Kidney of the would-be rebound goal.
The Titans would rally behind the efforts of the goaltender and their power play late in the period. With just six seconds remaining in their first man-advantage, Tate Singleton notched his first goal of the postseason after re-directing a Ryan Naumovski shot. Tyler Antonucci recorded the secondary assist on the tally, giving the Titans a commanding 3-0 lead with under five minutes remaining in the first.
The second period saw the game’s pace slow significantly as neither side found much success moving the puck. Turnovers, icings, and pucks put out of play dominated the early going, leaving little in terms of quality chances.
As had been the case for Wilkes/Barre-Scranton in game two, Gabe Temple was able to provide a spark. The Knights first-round draft pick scored his team’s first goal for the second-consecutive game, teed up by Jake Fuss and Tomas Koblizek on a rush down the ice at 12:01.
With the deficit trimmed to two, the Knights carried momentum into the third period. After beginning the frame on a carryover power play, the Knights quickly saw the advantage evaporate when they were penalized for hooking on a failed breakaway. Undeterred, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would a penalty 48 seconds later, pushing the game to 4-on-4 and an eventual Knights power play.
Shortly after the second power play’s expiration, Gabe Temple threw a puck to the slot where Jack Olmstead fired it to the netfront. Ladd and a host of bodies piled on the puck in the low slot, with the effort kicking it over to right post. There, lying prone on his back, Curtis Carlson shoveled the puck through Ladd to bring the Knights within a single score.
Wade Novak winded the comeback effort just over a minute and a half later. The explosive skater tore up the ice on a 3-on-2 rush. As Stoever moved to mirror his effort, Novak buried a shot top-shelf over Stoever’s glove to re-establish a two-goal lead (Kyle Jeffers).
In what can be described as an all-world counter punch, Michael Morrissey swung momentum back in the opposite direction less than a minute later. As the Titans attempted a breakout, Morrissey, pressuring alone in the offensive zone, pick-pocketed a Titans defenseman on the right circle before streaking in on goal. He ripped a shot past Ladd to narrow the score to 4-3.
Momentum on their side, the Knights re-doubled their efforts and managed to create another handful of quality chances as time ticked away in the third. Still, they struggled to break through against Ladd.
Their best chance came on a 2-on-1 with time dwindling, when Adrian Danchenko found Justin Engelkes with a cross-slot pass just after the pair gained the Titans zone. Engelkes lifted a heavy shot on goal, only to be denied by a sprawling Ladd.
Off the back of his efforts, the Titans fended off the last of the Knights comeback attempt, including 1:30 of facing an extra attacker, securing themselves a 2-1 series lead heading into game four.
Game four will be played tonight at the Revolution Ice Centre at 6:00 PM EDT. Admission is $5 at the door, and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow along on Knights social media and at NAHL.com!
Revenge had to be on the mind of the New Jersey Titans after seeing their slim division lead over the Knights evaporate Friday. It became very clear, very early on Saturday that the Titans had put yesterday’s 8-1 loss behind them.
Following a Knights penalty just over a minute into Saturday’s contest, the Titans jumped out to a 1-0 lead. After going 0/7 on the power play the evening before, New Jersey pulled the monkey off their back when Kyle Jeffers poked a Kyler Head rebound past David Tomeo. Hunter Alden picked up the secondary apple on the tally.
On the opposite end of the ice, graced with the benefit of a full warm up this night, Matt Ladd started fast in net for the Titans. In response to the Titans attack, the Knights countered with a number of chances through the opening period. Ladd stopped them all on the way to 18 saves in the first.
The Titans tacked on another goal when Hunter Alden, set up by Zachary Faremouth, created a 2-on-1 with Chris Garbe. the latter put home a swift pass from Alden at 8:03 which held to give the Titans a 2-0 lead after one.
In the second, New Jersey kept their foot on the gas, as they came out in much the same way the Knights had in Friday’s second period. Matt Cameron notched his 21st goal of the season at the 5:23 marker, set up on another slick pass from Alden, with the second assist credited to defenseman Eric Manoukian.
Just over a minute later, Gavin Gulash poked a puck through on the back door of Tomeo’s net on assists from Garbe and Faremouth. The score saw Tomeo’s night end, as the Knights swapped him out for Christian Stoever.
Quickly on finding themselves on the wrong end of a large deficit, the Knights responded with urgency, and at times, dominance in the attacking zone. Time and again they were turned away by Ladd, a 6’3″ wall in net. After his appearance in relief yesterday, the goalie came roaring back to rob the Knights on looks they were finishing on the night before.
Adding to their struggles, the Knights saw two mid-period power plays extinguished by a smothering and aggressive New Jersey penalty kill. On the second man-advantage, Kyle Jeffers even drew a penalty to force a penalty shot, shorthanded. Stoever (18 saves), denied the chance, looking stellar despite coming off the bench cold.
The lack of power play scoring sapped the Knights of valuable time in their efforts to build a comeback. Ladd’s dam finally broke when Tyrone Bronte deflected a Luke Robinson shot to the back of the net at 16:55. Justin Engelkes picked up the secondary assist on the score.
Into the third, the Knights offense slowed after wracking up 38 shots in the first 40 minutes. Ladd stopped all 7 offerings sent his way over the final 20, while the Titans maintained their dangerous transition game. It payed off yet again just under 15 minutes into the third. Kyle Jeffers notched his second goal of the game after Nick Boyagian bounced a puck off a back-checking Knight following a set up from Ryan Wheeler. Jeffers took the loose biscuit and deposited just past the toe of Stoever for the 5-1 lead.
The score held through the final horn, continuing the game of leap frog in the East division as New Jersey hopped back ahead of the Knights for second place. All totaled, the Titans scored five goals on 37 shots and killed off all 7 penalties they faced, a night after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton did the same. With home-ice advantage still very much in play, the two teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday at 7:00 PM EDT in New Jersey. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com 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!