Tag Archives: Jordan Strand

Knights Announce End of Season Player Awards

Annual Team Awards Honored At Season’s End

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: The player judged to be most valuable to the Knights during the regular season.
Winner: ZACH STEJSKAL

 
Season stats: 25-17-5/6 SO/2.47 GAA/.935%

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: First year player judged to be most valuable to the Knights during the regular season.
Winner: JORDAN STRAND

Season stats: 56GP: 5G-23A= 28pts.

MOST IMPROVED: The player that has shown the most development and additional contribution to the Knights throughout the regular season.
Winner: GABE TEMPLE

Season stats: 57GP: 18G-18A= 36pts.

THE LANCELOT KNIGHTS AWARD: The player from the team that the coaching staff feel best exhibits hard work, mental toughness, competitiveness, passion, and a team first mentality.
Winner: JOEY VERKERKE

Season stats: 59GP: 2G-6A = 8pts.

Knights Win In Dramatic Fashion To End Season

Strand performs OT heroics for Knights to finish year with 26 wins

On the final day of the regular season, a back-and-forth affair ended in the final minute of overtime with Jordan Strand rifling home the game winner in a 5-4 Knights’ win over the Maryland Black Bears.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton not only swept the weekend, but also the season series, going 8-0 against the NAHL’s newest team. It marks the first time in franchise history that the Knights swept a season series against an East Division team. Overall, the Knights ended their 2018-19 campaign with a 26-29-5 record.

In their final game as well, Maryland put up a fight. After an 8-1 win for the grey and blue Friday, the Black Bears were in no way looking for a repeat come Saturday afternoon. Though the Knights struck first, courtesy of Jake Fuss, it was Maryland who would take a lead going into intermission. With just over two minutes to play in the first period, the Knights were granted a power play that had less than ideal results. Lukas Ljungblom scored two shorthanded goals in 1:40 to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Tom Kowal’s group would make up for their special teams blunder in the second period, as both Adrian Danchenko and Tyrone Bronte scored power play goals to give the Knights a 3-2 edge. Wilkes-Barre also blistered Maryland’s David Tomeo, a former Knights’ goalie, in the second period by outshooting the Black Bears, 21-5. The club entered the third period with a lead for the 18th time this season. They had gone 15-1-1 in the previous situations.

Fuss applied the two goal cushion when he scored his team-best 20th goal of the season and second of the game early in the frame. Like the two goals in the second, his was also on the power play. Fuss finished the year and his junior hockey career at a torrent pace. The ’98 scored 18 of his 20 goals since January 19th, and had 28 points in his last 29 games.

Mayland’s Marek Wazny pulled the team within one with 13 minutes to play. From there, the Knights continued to hold Maryland off until the dying minutes. As the Black Bears continued to apply pressure, Head Coach Clint Mylymok elected to pull the goalie for an extra attacker, resulting in a game tying goal from Luke Mountain with 1:08 to play. Perhaps even more disastrous for the Knights was when Markus Cook was called down for tripping with five seconds left in regulation. This gave Maryland a power play to operate with in overtime.

Fortunately, the Knights penalty kill continued its marvelous play, and with less than a minute until a shootout would be needed, defenseman Jordan Strand took a burst of speed down the ice for a breakaway. Strand would roof the shot to the right side of the net, and the party began as the Knights dealt with adversity in the face one more time this year, and they came out on top, 5-4. Zach Stejskal picked up his 25th win of the season making 22 saves in the contest. His opposite, Tomeo, took the loss in a 36 save effort.

The team put themselves in position to still have playoff hopes following game 60, but the Northeast Generals won later on Saturday night, thus eliminating the Knights from playoff contention. It is the first time in the team’s NAHL tenure that a playoff berth was not secured.

Because it is their age-out year, this indefinitely ends the junior hockey careers of Joey Verkerke, Jake Fuss, and Captain Shay Donovan. On behalf of the entire Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights organization, we want to wish Joey, Jake, and Shay the absolute best of luck as they move forward in their careers, and thank them for their incredible amount of service given to this hockey club.

Knights Rally For Point Against Northeast

Strand ties it with 8.3 second left 

Jordan Strand helped the Knights complete a rally from being down by two, but the Generals scored in three-on-three overtime to take a 5-4 final at Revolution Ice Centre Friday night. Louis Boudon scored the overtime winner with 47 seconds left.

To even get to overtime, the Knights needed to overcome adversity. Northeast came in with a physical, aggressive pace that overwhelmed Wilkes-Barre at times, and notched a three goal second period that featured them outshooting the Knights by a 20-5 difference.

Both teams played hard in the opening 20 minutes, but the Knights were able to escape with a lead. On their first shot of the game, Zak Currie got a shot through traffic for his 7th goal of the season. The tally ended a 15 game drought for the 19-year-old.

That lead would hold up until 13:01 into the second. Gerard Maretta caught a bouncing puck in front and beat Zach Stejskal low for his first goal in the North American Hockey League. That sparked the visitors, who made a three goal run in less than six minutes.

John Jaworski would be the next opportunist and break through for the 2-1 lead. Wilkes-Barre failed to clear traffic in and around the net, and on sustained zone pressure, Jaworski benefited from a shot on bended knee inside 10 feet of Stejskal. Over three minutes later, Alex Cohen got by the defender for a cross-ice pass that he took to the front of the net with a backhand goal, making it 3-1.

The grey and blue didn’t quit. Early in the third, Jake Fuss got credit on a power play goal, giving the buzzing forward his 11th in the last 18 games. A left wing perimeter shot from Blake Kryska caught a piece of Fuss in front of the net for the biscuit to bounce in on goalie David Fessenden.

After the Generals retaliated to make it 4-2, the Knights again refused to bow out. A known “General killer”, Adrian Danchenko was able to pull his team within one on a booming one-timer that was fired top shelf just 53 seconds after Northeast scored. With seven minutes to play, the Gens’ played keep away, though the Knights still found opportunities through the sticks of players like Tyrone Bronte and Gabe Temple. It wasn’t until the dying seconds of the game that they would find their needed answer.

With Stejskal pulled, A six-on-five took place for over a minute and Jordan Strand cashed in from the middle of the blue line, driving it through the five hole of the stick-less Fessenden, thus earning the Knights a critical standings point by making it 4-4.

In the north-south style that is three-on-three overtime, the Knights’ blemish led to a Generals goal. Adrian Danchenko weaved through a defender in the slot, but misfired the puck leading it to go the other way. From there, Aurel Naus and Louis Boudon went in on an odd man rush where Boudon would finish it for the Generals win.

Northeast improves to 21-24-9, while the Knights go to 22-27-5. The teams are separated by two points. Zach Stejskal earns 37 saves, while Fessenden gets the win in goal stopping 25 pucks.

The clubs play game two of the three game weekend Saturday night at 7pm.

Preview: As they Arrive in Blaine, Veterans Look to Lead Knights to New Heights

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

The Knights opened their regular season this past weekend with a pair of contests against the Johnstown Tomahawks. Neither game went the way the team wanted, but the experience each game provided will serve the team well moving forward.

According to eliteprospects.com, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s roster is the youngest the NAHL when considering the average age of their players. Of the 25 that make up their team, six made their junior hockey debut last weekend. Another six have played in 20 games or less, meaning all would be “rookies,” by NHL standards. In stark contrast, the other half of the roster has combined to play a staggering 947 games in junior hockey. Many of these veterans nearly tasted Robertson Cup glory and few months ago. They’re eager to not only go back, but to bring their young teammates with them.

“You want to be a leader,” said defenseman Luke Robinson. “You want to fill the leadership role. It’s definitely an adjustment period. There’s some younger players with us this year. I can relate to what they’re going through. In practice if they have a bad pass or if they’re nervous going into a drill, I can kind of just talk to them and say ‘Hey, I was in the same situation and I was nervous doing that also. Just work through it and it’ll work out. There’s a reason you’re here-you’re talented enough to be here.’”

Robinson was third on the blue line last year, picking up a goal and 16 points in his first full season with the Knights.

”I want to be some one they can look to. I want to make sure that when I’m on the ice, I’m doing the right things so they pick up on that and realize how to be successful at this league, or how to work your way up the lineup, you have to be doing these things. Working out, stretching, warming up, taking shots after practice, things like that. I want to be that  leader, someone they can look up to, just being a good example.”

Robinson is joined by fellow right-hander Shay Donovan on the blue line, whose resume includes 105 games played in the NAHL.

“Yea I plan on it,” said Donovan on stepping into the role of a leader. “I plan on setting a tone early on, leading the young guys, showing them how you prepare for the season, how you handle yourself in the weight room, on the ice, however that may be. The older you get, the more games you have played and the more that becomes important.”

Lincoln Hatten is a 2000-born forward with more than just a powerful build. In his first season, the forward would join fellow rookies in becoming a catalyst for last year’s postseason run. The Texas-native scored a goal in the semi-finals against the eventual Robertson Cup Champion Shreveport Mudbugs.

“We just have to stay focused throughout the season,” said Hatten. “The grind never stops. You’re going, going, and going, but I think when we got to the Robertson Cup last year, we kind of took our eye off the prize a bit. We sat back that first game we were there and they brought it to us. We just gotta keep our foot on the gas pedal, keep moving forward, keep doing what we’re doing and get there. I think this year, being there last year, all the vets have thoughts in their heads about going back, things to differently so we help ensure that we can get it done.”

As far as the advice he offers to those following in his footsteps, Hatten refers them to his coach’s message for guidance.

“I tell them to listen to TK on the ice,” he said. “He just keeps repeating to stay mentally tough. It’s a mental sport. If you let a kid get in your head, like if you’re on the boards as a winger you can’t the puck out, and if you let that start affecting you, you’re not going to get the job done. Just staying mentally strong, just working hard every shift, making sure you get the fine details-making sure you get every little thing done right, that’s how you become successful.”

On a similar note, Robinson stressed that harnessing adrenaline and the mental aspect of the game is crucial to a fast start.

“Honestly, I think it’s feeling those nerves and use that to your advantage on your first shift,” said Robinson. “Just feel nervous, go out and move your legs, get a hit, get a shot on goal, just kamikaze it. Just know there’s a reason you’re here, you should be confident in that, and go play your game.”

“I think the biggest thing, looking around the division, not knowing what everyone else has coming back, but I’d say experience is going to be our biggest asset,” said Donovan. “Just having four guys who are veterans back, that makes a huge difference in bringing the young guys along. It helps everyone grow up really fast. Just heading into games, everyone is so much more experienced. I think we have a lot of skill as well, especially from our draft picks. We added some size and skill, some guys who can really skate with it. I think something that we’re really going to have to work on a bit is the physical aspect of the game. It’s something hopefully us older guys can show the younger guys. TK always stresses clearing the front of the net, being tough in our own end, getting pucks up-we have some really good forwards to go along with it.”

“I’m excited to see what we have in store,” said Hatten. “Practices have been great, high-tempo, a lot of body, and just a lot of grit down in the corners. We’ve put a lot of hard work in.”

“I’m gonna bring the same style, focus more on scoring  goals this year, and getting in a few opponents’ heads,” said Gabe Temple, the team’s newest captain. “I just want to help lead the team back to the Robertson Cup playoffs and hopefully win this year,”

KNIGHTS BLAINE ROSTER:

Forwards:
#9 Zak Currie, RHF
#10 Beck Moore, LHF
#11 Jake Fuss, LHF
#15 Lincoln Hatten, RHF
#16 Sacha Guillemain, RHF
#17 Anthony Starzi, RHF
#19 Jason Stachelbeck, RHF
#22 Gabe Temple, RHF
#23 Mathew Kahra, LHF
#24 Tyler Nielsen, RHF
#25 Brett Postula, LHF
#26 Jacob Badal, LHF
#28 Jeffrey Bertrand, RHF
#29 Will Otwell, RHF

Defensemen:
#2 Greg Japchen, LHD
#4 Davis Pennington, LHD
#8 Blake Krkyska, LHD
#12 Evan Orr, LHD
#14 Joey Verkerke, RHD
#20 Shay Donovan, RHD
#21 Jordan Strand, RHD
#27 Luke Robinson, RHD

Goalies:
#1 Samuel Vyletelka
#35 Zach Stejskal

  • Notes:
    “I think our speed,” said Donvan of what he felt is his team’s most impressive skillset. “To make this team-I think everyone skates really well. I think as a d-corps we skate really well, and that’ll help transition the play up to the forwards. If we can play fast in transition, we should be the fastest team in our division. I think that’d really help us and that’s something that TK and Whitey really look for.”

 

  • “Our ability to transition,” Robinson agreed. “Being able to join the rush, to make it instead of a 3-on-2, a 4-on-2 and just have the confidence that we can even get back if we have a turnover and cover for d. We have guys who are very good skaters on the blue line. If we can beat that first forechecker as a defenseman and move it to an open guy, head-man the puck, we can hopefully join the rush.”

 

  • The Knights most experienced tender from last year is also one of their youngest, as Alaskan standout Jeff Bertrand returns in 2018-19. The future Nittany Lion cut his teeth in the NAHL in the best possible way, playing in a handful of regular season games before joining the roster for the entirety of the 2018 playoffs. The big right-handed shot scored his first goal with the Knights against the then-named Philadelphia Rebels en route to the Knights sweep of one of their arch rivals last postseason. This year, Bertrand scored the Knights first goal of the season on their first shot in their home opener Friday.

 

  • Jacob Badal is one of the few players younger than Bertrand on the Knights roster this season. He scored his first goal of junior hockey on Saturday night against Johnstown on a sharp-angle snipe.

 

  • Three graduates of the Knights EHL roster combined for a goal on Friday. Anthony Starzi and Jake Fuss fed Tyler Nielsen for his first goal of the season.

 

  • Zach Stejskal, the Knights most recent first-round pick, comes to the team following a year in the USHL with the Central Illinois Flying Aces. From the moment he steps on the ice, Stejskal can’t be missed. The hulking netminder stands at 6-5 but moved with the quickness of a smaller goalie at Knights main camp. The team is excited about the Minnesota-native’s arrival.

 

  • “He just has a great mentality in net. It’s the type of mentality you need in net to say ‘Screw this I’m not getting scored on’ type of mentality. He’s super calm-no freak outs-he’s always supportive of his guys, and he’s got some really good experience to go along with that.”

Knights Trade for Tendered Defenseman, Jordan Strand

Shortly after their 2017-18 season came to a close, the Knights made a trade for 2018-19, acquiring tendered defenseman Jordan Strand in a trade with the Chippewa Steel (formerly the Coulee Region Chill).

The 19-year old spent most of 2017-18 as a key presence for a Sioux Falls JR. Stampede U18 team that went to the NAPHL’s playoffs this past February. After a regular season that saw him record a goal and eight assists in 15 games, Strand produced at a point-per-game rate on the biggest stage, scoring two goals and four points in four playoff games. Offense however, is his not his primary focus.

“I’m more towards a two-way defenseman, he said. “I take care of the d-zone first. That’s my main goal; to shut down the other team’s top line and then chip in on the offense too. I go into every game with the mentality that I really, really enjoy playing the good teams and shutting down their top players. Coming from Minnesota high school hockey, we had a bunch of top-notch players and that was my favorite thing. Going against these guys that get drafted in the NHL or are going division one, and I go against those guys and shut them down. When I’m on the ice, I just want to make sure those top guys don’t get points. For the offensive side, I guess I go into every game hoping to get a point or at least help my buddy or my line mate get a point, but I like to be a shutdown d, that’s my main thing.”

“Jordan is a steady shutdown defenseman that has the ability to log big minutes on the back-end,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “We are excited to add Jordan to the right side of our defensive core.”

Strand has already had a taste of NAHL hockey, after playing a pair of games with the Minot Minotauros in 2017-18.

“Last year I was kind of going in blind,” he said. “I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. From my high school, I’m one of the first players to go on to play junior in quite some time. Now I know what I’m getting into. Playing in Sioux Falls this past year has gotten me way more prepared to go into it. Seeing the NAHL practices with Minot, playing in games, you realize how fast it is. That’s prepared me for this offseason training and going into next season.”

So what does the Cottage Grove, Minnesota native know about a junior hockey team from Pennsylvania? The Knights most recent trip to the State of Hockey grabbed his attention.

“I heard a little bit,” he said of the Knights. “The teams that made it to the Robertson Cup final four, I was looking up. Being with Minot, I knew about Wilkes-Barre. I knew that they were a good team, a talented team. I didn’t know about the coaching staff, or where they were located, before I was traded, but I knew they were good.”

“Nowadays you can’t have enough skill on the blue-line,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We wanted to add a player with Jordan’s ability to play good defense in his own zone, while also having the ability to transition into a playmaker up the ice. Bringing him into the fold helps not only our defensive depth, but continues to add versatility to our team as a whole. It was an easy trade to make.”

In trading for Strand, the Knights believe the benefits extend beyond just the ice. A former captain for Park High School, Strand leads by example.

“I’m not really a big talker, I like to show it on the ice,” he said. “That’s my big thing, my work ethic. I like to go in and try to motivate guys on my team to work harder because of my work ethic. I do less talking and more working. Some guys are good at the talking part, but I’m more of the work-hard, guys notice it, and then they work hard as well.”

With the opportunity to secure a place on an NAHL roster, Strand is motivated to achieve not only his personal ambitions, but to help continue the Knights ascent, heading into their fourth season in the NAHL.

“Team goals-obviously you want to go to the Robertson Cup and win the Robertson Cup. That’s my big thing, I love winning. Coming from a team this past year that made it to nationals for U18 and made it a good, successful year. I really loved it. I want more, so I’m hoping to win that Robertson Cup. Personally, I want to start talking to colleges. Get a college offer, and if that doesn’t come this next year, than the year after. I’d also like to get 30 points or so this year, play on the power play, be a good team player. That’s my goal.”

The Knights will get their first chance to see Strand at their rink, when the organization holds their main camp on July 20th at the Revolution Ice Centre. Strand will have the opportunity to make a team that shares his aspirations of winning a Robertson Cup.

“I’m just really looking forward to it,” said Strand. “I’ve heard really good things about the coaching staff, really good things about Wilkes-Barre. I’m really excited to get out there and get going.”