Tag Archives: Joseph Verkerke

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 Can’t Fend off Tomahawks in Game 2

Trying to avoid a sweep on opening weekend, the Knights met the Tomahawks for the second straight afternoon inside the Revolution Ice Centre.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jumped out to an early start, applying a few quick chances on Johnstown netminder Cooper Lukenda in the game’s first six minutes. In his first NAHL start, the Canadian goalie was up to the task, stopping each of the Knights early offerings.  Like the Knights the day before, the Tomahawks went on to strike on their very first shot of the game.

Just shy of the six minute mark, Alex Wilkins zipped a pass to Christian Gorscak who found a wide open Oliver Benwell in front, where the latter ripped a puck past Knights starter Samuel Vyletelka, who was just inches from making the save.

The 1-0 lead kicked off an avalanche of Johnstown pressure. The Tomahawks added quickly to their shot total, peppering Vyletelka and drawing penalties.

On the third Knights infraction, Johnstown made them pay. With the man advantage, Carson Brière fed a puck to Cameron Hebert, who fired one across to Samuel Solensky. Solensky, a thorn in the Knights side throughout his NAHL career, ripped a shot past his fellow Slovak in Vyletelka for the 2-0 Johnstown lead.

In the second, the Knights would begin the period in earnest, again picking up pressure in the offensive zone. They were finally rewarded at 4:44. Set up by Joey Verkerke and Zak Currie, Jacob Badal ripped a sharp-angle laser from the bottom of the right circle that bested Lukenda to cut the Johnstown lead in half.

The Tomahawks would take less two minutes to answer. Following another Knights penalty, the Johnstown power play struck again when Carson Brière found some space on the left circle. The ’99 forward juggled the puck around a block attempt and ripped it home for the 3-1 lead. Samuel Solensky and Cameron Hebert  picked up helpers on the score.

Under three minutes later, Brière and Solensky would strike again, when the former found the latter on a 2-on-1 for Johnstown’s fourth goal. Dominick Posta was credited with the secondary assist that sprung the odd-man rush, giving the Tomahawks a 4-1 lead heading into the third.

In the game’s final stanza, penalties dominated the pace of play. During a four-on-four play just three and a half minutes into the period, Christian Gorscak found a turnover after a Knights player lost an edge in his own zone. Walking in with pressure right on his heels, Gorscak fired the puck over Vyletelka’s shoulder to create a 5-1 advantage.

The score would hold up through a slew of penalties committed by both sides through the remainder of play. At the final horn, Johnstown would head home with four points in their first two games. In the win, his first in the NAHL, Cooper Lukenda stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal for the Tomahawks. Samuel Vyletelka made 42 saves in the loss.

The Knights will look to bounce back when they head to Blaine, Minnesota later this week for the NAHL Showcase. Their first game will take place Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT against the Topeka Pilots. Catch that game on www.hockeytv.com, and stay tuned to Knights social media for all Knights news on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

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!

Game 5: Knights Knock off Titans to Advance to Round 2

Sunday’s winner-take-all match up between the Knights and Titans lived up to its billing with high intensity from the opening puck drop. In hostile territory, the Knights aimed to advance with their first playoff series win in the organization’s short NAHL history.

The team received exactly the kick start it needed when Reed Robinson notched his first goal of the postseason just 5:39 into the first. Having played each other nine times over the last month, the Knights and Titans have become familiar with some of each other’s tendencies. Robinson, pressuring in the low right wing while the Titans attempted to coordinate a breakout, hawked a pass from behind the net at the front door, and proceeded to rip a shot through Titans goalie Matt Ladd for the 1-0 lead.

For much of the first, the Knights battled hard and succeeded in driving pucks and possession in the offensive zone, while executing fast, and crisp breakouts out of their own end. They were backstopped again by stellar play from Christian Stoever. Fresh off a 51-save shutout in game four, Stoever was tremendous in net once more, fending off a few early odd-man rushes from New Jersey, on his way to 14 saves in the first.

In the period’s final minute, the Knights top line moved out of their own zone on a quick rush up the left wing. Jack Olmstead flipped a puck ahead to Michael Morrissey who started a 2-on-1 with Matt Kidney over the Titans blue line. Kidney led Morrissey to the left circle, where the latter backhanded a perfect set up back to Matt Kidney who had looped back through the slot. Kidney, playing once again in his hometown, darted across the face of Ladd before putting home his first goal of the playoffs, moving the Knights up 2-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first.

Spurred on by their early success, the Knights picked up where they left off in the opening period with a swift attack that drew an early penalty in the second. Late in the ensuing power play, Reed Robinson fired into the offensive zone where he threw a puck back to a trailing Tyrone Bronte. After accepting a return pass, Robinson spotted a wide-open Blake Kryska at the top of the zone.  With ice in front of him, Kryska walked Robinson’s pass through the slot before burying a wrister by Ladd for the 3-0 lead at 6:09.

The Titans finally got on the board just prior to the halfway point of the second. Jimmy Dowd Jr. flipped a puck through center ice from the left side of his own blue line. A savvy move by Matt Cameron caused the Knights to over commit to the winger, while the speedy Ryan Naumovski took the puck in over the right wing of the attacking end. Beating the backcheck to the bottom of the zone, Naumovski flipped a puck off a body in front and past Stoever to cut the Knights lead to 3-1.

The flood gates opened in the second half of the period for New Jersey as the Titans began an onslaught of chances and shifts in the Knights end of the ice. Stoever stood tall as the Knights attempted to regroup, and the score remained 3-1 at the end of 40 minutes of play.

On a carryover stretch of 4-on-4 hockey to start the third, the Titans turned to their speed to take advantage of the extra space on the ice. Nick Boyagian started a breakout with a long pass from behind his own net to Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler criss-crossed behind the lightning-fast Wade Novak as the pair crossed the blue line. The defenseman had just enough room to bank a pass of the boards behind Stoever’s net, which pinballed perfectly to a crashing Novak. With his third goal of the playoffs, Novak beat Stoever to the back post, narrowing the score to 3-2 just 50 seconds into the period.

With the momentum reversed heavily against them, the Knights needed to come up with a fast response. On a sequence that appeared to be going the wrong way for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Joey Verkerke came up with a game-turning play.

After a Knights defender fell down to allow Ryan Naumovski a seemingly clear path to the net, Verkerke made a diving block through the low slot, pushing the puck into the corner. Regaining his feet, Verkerke pushed the puck back up the left wall to Justin Engelkes who laced a perfect home-run pass to the streaking Adrian Danchenko up the right wing. Danchenko received the puck just prior to the red line, and burned the Titans last back-checker to create a breakaway. In alone on Ladd, Danchenko ripped a perfect shot top shelf, stick-side to regain the two-goal lead just under three minutes into the third.

With the multi-goal advantage once more, the Knights quickly went into a defensive-mode, easing slightly off the attack and placing trust in their defense and their red-hot goaltender to seal the victory. They held the score through the bulk of the period to force the Titans hand late.

Down two with just over three minutes remaining, Matt Ladd left the crease for the extra attacker. The Knights were placed under siege as the Titans, who had already forced several icings just minutes prior, maintained the offensive zone on long shifts. Their shots made it to the net, but not by Stoever, who made one great stop  after another on his way to 49 saves for the evening, and finishing with 129 on the weekend.

The final highlight came after Stoever leapt out of his stance to knock a high shot away with the stick, with just under two minutes to play. Lincoln Hatten’s clearing effort just missed New Jersey’s open net, keeping tired Knights legs on the ice for another faceoff.

This time, Michael Morrissey won the puck cleanly off the draw and flipped it back to the corner for Thomas Farrell. Farrell lifted the puck up the side-wall to Hatten, who barreled his way out of the zone. Playing an expert game of keep-away through three poke-check attempts, Hatten skated the puck to just above the Titans blue line where he arched a backhanded shot perfectly into the open net.

The Knights fifth goal secured the game-five win, as well as their first series win in their Robertson Cup Playoff history. They will move on to take on the Philadelphia Rebels in the East Division Finals, another best-of-five series, beginning later this week. The schedule will be released shortly.

Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all news and updates!

Knights Drop Regular Season Finale in Philly

On Wednesday, the Knights had the unusual task of resuming a suspended game. The contest picked up where it left off: the Knights down 2-0 at the hands of the Philadelphia Rebels, midway through the first period. The two tallies came courtesy of Konur Peterson and Alex Frye nearly three months ago in a game that was suspended due to fog.

On Wednesday, Peterson and Frye looked like they never left the January ice. The pair kicked off Wednesday’s continuation by each adding their second goal of the game within minutes of puck drop. The first of today’s action came from Peterson at 10:54, when he bested Christian Stoever off assists from Noah Finstrom and the aforementioned Frye.

Just over a minute later, Tyrone Bronte would interrupt the 3-0 scoring run by the Rebels with his 15th marker of the season, trimming the deficit to 3-1. Adrian Danchenko initiated the scoring play by digging and flipping a puck out of the left corner back to the point for Joey Verkerke. Verkerke’s point shot was re-directed past Ryan Keane by Bronte for the Knights first goal.

That moment proved to be the high point of the Knights afternoon. Just two minutes later, Alex Frye notched his second of the contest off of helpers from Auggie Moore and Finstrom.

Philadelphia didn’t relent. After drawing a penalty from the Knights a little over a minute after Frye’s second goal, the Rebels power play went to work. Jensen Zerban parked himself on the left circle just in time for a rebound to kick over to the dangerous scorer, following a save by Stoever off a Brandon Stanley shot. Zerban buried his 19th tally of the season to build a 5-1 Philadelphia lead. Kolby Vegara notched the secondary helper, and the Rebels cruised into intermission with a four-goal lead.

That lead grew quickly in the second. Konur Peterson initiated a sequence that saw him swiftly slide a pass to Nicolas Appendino in the Knights zone. Appendino found Noah Finstrom, who buried his first goal of the season.

At 6:18, Jensen Zerban fed the puck to Ryan Patrick who put a heavy shot off Stoever’s pads. Carson Moniz swept in to bury the rebound and build a 7-1 Philadelphia lead.

Christian Stoever, despite the goals against, fought hard throughout the contest, improving as the game wore on. Philadelphia’s pace of play slowed, and the Knights improved in their quantity of shots on goal. They were continually thwarted by Keane (25 saves) in goal. Going 0-for-2 on the power play in the period sapped the Knights chances at any rally.

At the end of 40 minutes, the game was well in hand for the Rebels, who sat back on six-goal lead. As a result, the third period was a fast-moving, yet low-chance frame as the Rebels throttled down and protected their advantage.

The Knights held Philadelphia to just nine shots in the third, but only mustered seven in response. Two penalties slowed the Knights attack, though they were able to nullify both Rebels power play opportunities.

As the clock hit zero, the Knights were bested 7-1. The loss was the team’s final game in the 2017-18 regular season, but they’ll take solace in the fact that they are playoff bound. They’ll be scoreboard watching this weekend as they rest, heal, and prepare for the first divisional round of the Robertson Cup playoffs.

Currently the owners of the East Division’s second seed by single point-ahead of the New Jersey Titans-they can finish no better than second, but no worse than third.

If the currently fourth-placed Northeast Generals sweep the second-place Titans in their two-game series this weekend, with the condition that at least one win must be in regulation, the Knights will clinch home-ice advantage through the opening round of the East Division playoffs.

In the event of two regulation wins for the Generals, the Knights would then play the Generals in the first round, with home-ice advantage going to the Knights.

If the Titans win either game, or lose both in overtime/shootout, they will clinch the second seed, home-ice advantage, and will host the Knights in round one.

If the Titans lose both, but one in overtime/shootout, they will clinch the third seed, making them the Knights first opponent, but with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton controlling home-ice advantage.

The Generals and Titans will meet Friday, April 6th and Saturday, April 7th, both games at 7:00 pm EDT, in New Jersey. They will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com.

 

 

 

Knights Offense Explodes in a Friday Night of Firsts

With the meeting of the number two and three seeds in the NAHL’s East Division underway in the Revolution Ice Centre Friday night, the words of head coach Tom Kowal earlier in the week rang heavy: “If we play Knights hockey, we’ve proven we can beat anybody in any division.”

The New Jersey Titans certainly qualified as somebody and are conveniently a part of the Knights division. The explosive rival entered Friday night with the second-highest goals per game average in the NAHL, and one more point than the Knights in the East Division standings. They brought with them Brandon Perrone, one of the league’s premiere goaltenders, who entered play with 14 wins-three against the Knights-and a .927 save percentage. To oppose Perrone, the Knights tapped David Tomeo, fresh off earning East Division Star of the Week for his two wins and .959 save percentage against the Northeast Generals last weekend.

The game began with an up tempo cadence. Both teams took turns trading dangerous rushes, with each goalie being tested early and often. The Knights offense, averaging 3.60 goals over their prior five games, struck first. Adrian Danchenko intercepted a Titans exit pass just under the blue line before finding Jack Olmstead charging down the ice. In a blink, the Knights had a 3-0 rush from the circles. Olmstead slid a perfect pass across the slot Mike Gelatt, who buried the opening goal against his home town and former team.

Three minutes later, the Knights took advantage of their second power play, when Reed Robinson, off helpers from Danchenko and recent Army commit Thomas Farrell, ripped a shot from the top of the zone past Perrone to build a 2-0 lead.

With the help of a sound Tomeo making 19 saves, plus a successful penalty kill late in the period, the Knights left the opening frame with a 2-0 lead.

After the first 20 minutes saw the teams combine for 39 shots, it was fair to question if the feat could be duplicated, let alone surpassed. The game’s middle period would find a way to top its predecessor.

The Knights peppered the net in the opening minute of the second, culminating in Mike Gelatt finding Jack Olmstead, who executed his second, perfect pass of the evening, this time to a crashing Mike Morrissey. Morrissey put the puck into the back of the net, but just after doing so, the momentum of both he and a back-checking Titan took out goalie Brandon Perrone. The netminder was forced to leave the ice for the remainder of the contest due to injury.

Rallying behind goalie Matt Ladd, the Titans scored less than a minute later when Hunter Alden fed Wade Novak the puck from down low to the bottom of the right circle. Novak ripped his 14th goal of the season past Tomeo to bring New Jersey back within two. Zachary Faremouth collected the secondary assist on the score.

Tyrone Bronte decided that was not acceptable. Following the start of the shift which saw his line chasing in their own zone, the Australian forward responded by taking a one-touch pass from Farrell, all the way to the Titans blue line. There, Bronte handed off to Justin Engelkes to create a 2-on-1. Engelkes found Bronte with a cross-slot feed to complete the give-and-go score to put the Knights back up by three, just before the two minute mark in the second period.

Engelkes and Bronte would keep the offense going five minutes later, when the former led the latter down the right wing, into Titans territory. From Engelkes, Bronte dropped the puck back to a trailing Adrian Danchenko who fired an initial shot off the pads of Ladd. Catching the rebound even with the goal line, Danchenko somehow found the open space, pocketing the puck in the corner of the net over Ladd’s shoulder for the 5-1 lead.

The Knights were far from finished. While being supported by continued excellence in net from Tomeo, the Knights survived a barrage of chances generated by a quick, but unlucky Titans forecheck. At 7:51, Reed Robinson grew the lead again with his second marker of the evening, good for his 22nd on the season. New arrival and affiliate defenseman Sean Detloff fed him the puck, off a secondary helper from Curtis Carlson. The assist for Detloff gave the Harrison Township, Michigan native his first NAHL point in his first game.

Another first would arrive near the period’s end. With Detloff and Titans first-time skater Rece Bergeman both on the ice, odds were decent that one of the two could find their first career goal. Luke Robinson had other ideas.

Tyrone Bronte took an Adrian Danchenko pass and circled his way deep into Titans territory. Pulling up on the left wing, Bronte fired back to the right side for a streaking Robinson, who ripped his best shot of the season top shelf, over the shoulder of Ladd for the Knights 7th goal of the contest.

The celebration, though memorable, wouldn’t last too long for Robinson as he quickly found himself a member of both teams’ sudden parade to the penalty boxes. Just 27 seconds after his goal, Robinson was assessed two penalties in an altercation with Titans forward Kyle Jeffers. Each was sent for roughing, but Robinson was assessed an extra two minutes for slashing. The ensuing Titans power play was short-lived, as they’d take a tripping minor less than a minute later to close the period in a stretch of 4-on-4.

The third period would follow suit, with the 4-on-4 quickly ending as a result of a Knights holding penalty just 28 seconds into the period. The 4-on-3 that followed for the Titans then turned back into a 5-on-4 with the return of Jeffers and Reed Robinson (serving Luke Robinson’s extra penalty). When play finally drew back even, both sides had failed to score a special teams goal.

The Knights penalty kill was smothering throughout the evening, going 7-for-7, and was again bolstered by Tomeo’s steady play in net. All totaled, the goalie from West Caldwell, New Jersey would stare down a staggering 53 shots on the evening, stopping all but one.

With more penalties periodically changing playing strenght on both sides for the rest of the period, the Knights would take advantage of a rate stretch of five-on-five with under five minutes to play. Joey Verkerke, a veteran defenseman in his second year with the Knights, has played brilliantly of late, particularly through his blue line’s smattering of injuries over the past week. With over 80 games in his career with the team, one thing the steady defender had yet to find was his first goal in a Knights uniform.

On an odd sequence at the 16 and a half minute mark, one that saw nearly every player on the ice pile up in the crease, Verkerke got the last piece of a puck that bounced off of bodies and sticks of Reed Robinson and Curtis Carlson in front, before Verkerke guided it through the pads of Matt Ladd. The Knights went wild in the ensuing celebration, putting the perfect cap on a nearly perfect evening.

What would turn out to be an 8-1 victory puts the Knights in second place in the East division, with a one point lead over the Titans. two teams will meet again tonight at 7:30 pm EDT.

Tonight is Billet Appreciation Night at the Revolution Ice Centre, where the Knights billet families will be recognized and honored in a pre-game ceremony. Admission for non-billets/player families is $5 at the door, while the game will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com. Tune in and follow along on Knights social media and www.nahl.com/game-center/#/daily-schedule!

 

Power Play and Goaltending Spur Knights to Victory

Game number 56 for the Knights was their final meeting with the Northeast Generals in the 2017-18 regular season. A regulation win would provide a solid, five-point cushion for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over the fourth place Generals, and leave the potential for the Knights to be tied for second place by Sunday’s end.

After an evenly-fought OT thriller on Saturday, both teams returned to the ice determined to clinch the weekend series Sunday. The Knights again found themselves shorthanded in the wake of injuries up and down their roster. For the second-straight night, they dressed just 17 skaters with only four being defensemen.

A fast-moving first period provided a nearly even exchange of chances for either side. The Knights tested David Fessenden, Friday’s winning goalie for Northeast, with 12 first period shots. He stopped them all. David Tomeo, in net for the second-straight game for the Knights, likewise denied his former team on all 14 shots sent his way.

The quiet first gave way to a busy second. After each team killed one penalty apiece in the opening 20 minutes, special teams dominated the middle frame. Just 14 seconds in, the Knights took a slashing penalty. The issue was further compounded when they were called for too many men on the ice with 34 seconds remaining on the initial penalty. Using the 5-on-3 to build momentum, the Generals would eventually cash in, when Matt Wiesner deflected a point shot from the returning Colin Bilek to the twine with just 33 seconds remaining on the second penalty. Louis Boudon collected the secondary assist on the score.

The Knights didn’t wait long to answer. On a  5-on-3 of their own, Curtis Carlson slid a puck over to Tom Farrell, who found an open Mike Morrissey on the back circle, where the assistant captain ripped a puck by a Jack Olmstead-screened Fessenden to even the score at one.

The afterglow didn’t have much time to sink in however, as before the second penalty expired, the Generals rained on the Knights parade. Following a shorthanded, offensive zone faceoff win, Justin Jallen found himself with space in front of Tomeo off slick feeds Colin McCabe and Brian Chambers. Jallen peppered a shot under the bar with such velocity that it utterly destroyed Tomeo’s water bottle. Perhaps motivated by vengeance, Tomeo locked down and elevated what was already a solid performance from that point on.

For their part, the Knights offense again rebounded swiftly. During a rare stretch of even play in the second, Jake Fuss flipped a bouncing puck to Tom Farrell on the right point. Farrell’s shot made its way into traffic in front of Fessenden, where Curtis Carlson found it and pushed it home to knot the game at 10:09.

For the remaining half of the period, both Fessenden (33 saves) and Tomeo answered building offensive chances with one strong save after another. At the end of 40 minutes, the contest was locked in a very even 2-2 score.

In the third, a failed power play followed up by a major penalty would doom Northeast. At 12:20 Reed Robinson would be boarded in neutral ice, sending the Knights to a 5:00 power play. Robinson would get his revenge three and a half minutes later, when Joey Verkerke’s point shot, set up by Mike Morrissey, split the penalty killers for the Generals. Gabe Temple and Robinson converged on Fessenden, with the latter finding and slamming it by the massive goalie for the Knights first lead.

Tyrone Bronte followed up Robinson’s goal with a key interception of the Generals last clearing effort on the major. As the Generals man stepped out of the penalty box, Bronte threaded the turnover to a crashing Jack Olmstead, who put the puck through the pads of Fessenden to jump ahead 4-2.

With time winding down, the Generals would empty their net to try and erase the two-goal deficit. The Knights aided the Northeast cause by committing what was deemed elbowing with 53 seconds to go. Northeast swarmed through the attacking zone for the remainder of regulation but were denied again and again in short succession by Tomeo. The ’99 netminder put a cap on the contest and his second-straight win with a highlight reel glove save at the horn. Tomeo’s 35 saves on 37 shots, gave him a 2-0 record on the weekend, with a sterling 70 saves on 73 shots, good for a .959 save percentage, and a 1.50 goal’s against average.

The Knights will conclude their home portion of the regular season next weekend with two meetings against the New Jersey Titans, the team currently tied with the Knights for second place in the East Division (pending this afternoon’s results in their game against the Johnstown Tomahawks). Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media throughout the week for all news and team content!

 

Knights Storm Back to OT Win Against Northeast

Round two of three saw Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head back to the New England Sports Village to take a second try at besting the Northeast Generals. Coming off a 3-1 loss the night prior, the Knights were in search of a spark to stay ahead of a Northeast team just two points behind them in the NAHL’s East division. They would have to do so shorthanded as a plague of injuries have ravaged the Knights blue line of late, the most recent leaving the team to dress only four defensemen on Saturday. Even with an extra forward in Tyler Nielsen suited up for the game, the team could only field 17 skaters.

Adjustments started from the net out for both sides, as David Tomeo and Marko Sturma took the places of Christian Stoever and David Fessenden from the night before. The pair were lights out from the opening puck drop. A sleepy start saw just 11 shots on goal combined through the opening 20 minutes of play.

The second period brought with it a different tone. Both forechecks awoke, as the combined shot total nearly tripled, rising from 11 to 40 after 40 minutes. In between the horns in the second, Sturma and Tomeo both answered the uptick in shots perfectly. Neither netminder allowed a goal, while both offenses, though active, struggled to stand on pucks for extended shifts in the attacking zone.

Most impressive for the Knights in the frame was their ability to negate penalties despite being so affected by injury. The Generals were held 0-3 in the period on the man-advantage (with one that largely took place at the end of the first, bridging 12 seconds into the second). Northeast put on a late surge that very nearly resulted in their first goal, but they were again kept at bay by Tomeo.

In the third, the dam finally broke. At 8:45, Matt Demelis fired down the right wing, and under duress, tucked a puck in between Tomeo and the far post, breaking the scoring drought of nearly 50 minutes. Pat Harrington collected the lone assist on the tally.

The Knights response came just under two minutes later. Joey Verkerke wrapped a puck in deep from neutral ice. The spinning biscuit found its way to Reed Robinson in the corner. His attempted pass to Curtis Carlson behind the net kicked off the back of a Generals skate, pin-balling perfectly to an open Tyler Nielsen. From the left side of the slot, the Knights affiliate forward ripped his first NAHL goal past Sturma to even the game at one.

The standings neighbors engaged in transitional warfare up and down the ice for the remainder of regulation. Tomeo blanked a streaking breakaway for the Generals while Sturma stoned Kidney on one for the Knights. The teams almost looked surprised to hear the horn sound on the third as the Generals even finished a check through the whistle.

In three-on-three overtime, both teams were quick to create, with Northeast pushing a 2-on-1 rush at Tomeo in the first two minutes. They were thwarted by a diving Verkerke in front, allowing his goalie to quickly collect and clear the loose puck down the ice.

On a seemingly innocent Northeast turnover in front of the Knights net, Curtis Carlson looped wide and shot up the sheet. Despite being 63 minutes into a contest in which his team was short a skater, Carlson erupted through every zone beating all three Generals back to the net. On in his way in, Carlson executed a quick lift and drift in front, pulling Sturma forward onto his stomach, allowing the Knights captain the space to put home the back-handed dagger.

The win was among the grittiest of the Knights season, and their two points to the Generals one moves Wilkes-Barre/Scranton into a three-point lead for the third seed in the East. Tomorrow’s rubber match at the New England Sports Village will take place at 12:00 PM EST. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and stay tuned to Knights social media for updates!

Series Recap: Knights Take Two of Three from Generals

On a busy weekend for the Knights, the program’s NAHL team hosted three games against the Northeast Generals, their standing neighbors in the East division.

Saturday

Game one took place Saturday after weather forced Friday’s contest to be moved to Monday. The evening affair started quickly, with the Knights on the attack courtesy of a pair of power plays generated in the opening minutes of the first. Though the Knights were kept at bay by Northeast netminder Marko Sturma, the chances created served as a springboard into a high-tempo forecheck for much of the remainder of the game.

Despite the early dosage of shots against, the Generals picked up their attack in the second half of the frame, repeatedly testing Christian Stoever in goal for the Knights. Though the 2000-born goaltender would make 11 first-period saves, Northeast would finally break through at 17:42 when Alex Cohen beat Stoever on a wraparound to the left post (Matthew Rutigliano, Sviatoslov Kuchynski).

Determined to leave their scoring slump in February, the Knights broke into the scoring column quickly in the second. Joey Verkerke initiated a two-on-one for Jack Olmstead and Mike Gelatt into Northeast territory where Olmstead found Gelatt in the right circle where he ripped a perfect shot past the glove of Sturma to even the score at one.

The Generals provided a response just over 60 seconds later, when Louis Boudon sprung free in the slot to re-direct Colin Bilek’s point shot past Stoever. Jeff Skinner picked up the secondary assist to put the Generals back ahead by one.

Stoever would do well in the second to stave off further Generals momentum,  making a few sterling saves to keep the Northeast lead to just a single goal.

Just prior to the halfway point of the period, Mike Gelatt would again find himself on an odd-man rush, this time accompanied by Reed Robinson. The pair would play catch as they gained the Northeast blue line before Robinson roofed a perfect shot from the left circle to once again bring the Knights even.

In the  third, Northeast would jump ahead again, this time via a Cam Gaudette laser from the far circle, set up by Matt Demelis and Justin Jallen. The tally was Guadette’s first in the NAHL, and gave Northeast momentum that would carry through the first half of the third stanza.

As time ticked away, Stoever would again deny several strong chances from the Generals attack, to keep the Knights within striking distance of the deficit.

At 12:46 his efforts were rewarded with yet another Knights equalizer. On a controversial play in which Sturma was contacted in the Generals crease, Mike Gelatt willed the puck on goal, creating a rebound that Matt Kidney buried to knot the game at three. Despite a long conference by officials, the goal was allowed to stand.

60 minutes would prove to be not enough time for either side to emerge victorious. In the three-on-three overtime period, Stoever and company denied an early Generals push before taking over possession for the majority of the five-minute span. Marko Sturma came up with his best save of the game late in the frame when he fell backward on Adrian Danchenko’s shot in close to somehow preserve the tie. At the next horn, the score remained even at three, sending the contest into the shootout.

Neither goalie flinched through the first two rounds, but Louis Boudon scored in the top of the third to provide the potential game-winning tally. The Knights sent out captain Curtis Carlson in a do-or-die scenario to try to force a fourth round. The veteran forward responded by firing a perfect shot past Sturma that went bar-down to move the showdown onto yet another round.

In the fourth, Brian Chambers was turned back by Stoever, while Reed Robinson had the puck roll off his blade on what looked like a game-winning move to beat Sturma. Matt Demelis was stoned in the fifth bringing on Matt Kidney for the Knights.

The veteran winger raced down the ice before burying the walk-off wrister over Sturma’s shoulder, sending the Knights home with two points, maintaining their slim lead over Northeast for third place in the East division.

Sunday

In the middle game of the series, the Knights attempted to channel the rush of Saturday’s shootout victory into another two points on Sunday. There to spoil the party was Generals goalie David Fessenden. The hulking ’98 has long tormented Knights scorers since coming to Northeast midway through last season.

At 6-5, Fessenden was in his usual form against the Knights early and never let his performance falter. After weathering a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton surge in the first half of the opening period, the Generals erupted for four goals in the final 7:32.

The first came from Matthew Rutigliano off assists from Sviastoslov Kuchynski and Ryan Rowland just shy of the 12:30 mark. Justin Jallen followed that with a power play snipe at 13:51, with Kuchynski again supplying the primary helper, while Brady Guadette picked up the secondary.

The Gaudette family continued rolling as Brady’s brother Cam found the net for the second-consecutive game less than 30 seconds later, off set ups from Mike Egan and Matt Demelis.

Demelis would cap the dominant stretch with a rifle of a wrist shot that squeaked through Christian Stoever’s pads at 17:54, after the Northeast forward was able to get behind the Knights last line of defense (MIchael Higgins, Brian Chambers).

After regrouping in the first intermission, the Knights came out in the second with better resolve. David Tomeo replaced Stoever in net and stopped 20 shots without allowing a single goal over the final two periods of play. In that same stretch, the Knights pushed back well, but not enough to rattle their nemesis in net in Fessenden.

Michael Morrissey would supply the lone tally of the second period, his tenth of the season, after Adrian Danchenko barreled through bodies down the right half-wall to find Morrissey open in the slot. Tom Farrell picked up the secondary assist on the goal at 8:27. The next marker wouldn’t come until 14:21 in the third, when Mike Gelatt collected his second score of the weekend off assists from Jack Olmstead and Tom Farrell. The late strike would provide the Knights confidence, enough to pull Tomeo with just over four minutes to play.

The bold strategy would be hindered by a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton penalty about a minute and a half later, forcing Tomeo back to the crease. Once the Knights cleared the zone they again pulled their goalie to the bench, but on this try Northeast quickly capitalized, with Justin Jallen putting home the easy power play, empty net goal at 18:50 (Brady Gaudette, Ryan Rowland). When the clock struck zero, the Knights were beaten 5-2.

Monday

With each side having recorded a victory, plus an additional Generals point due to their shootout loss in game one, Monday’s contest saw just a single point separate the third-place Knights and fourth-place Generals. With standing and future playoff implications at stake, the early play belonged to each of the starting goaltenders; David Fessenden for the Generals and Christian Stoever, back in net for the Knights.

With 18 shots between sides stopped in the first, the first tally would serve as a major boost for whichever offense could end the scoring drought in the second. For the first time in the three-game series, it would be the Knights that would find the game’s first goal.

Matt Kidney, who scored the game-tying goal plus the shootout winner on Saturday, kept his hot streak rolling with his 15th strike of the season at 10:58. Justin Engelkes kicked off one of the best offensive sequences the Knights have had on any shift all season. The Miami of Ohio commit jarred a puck free at the top of the Generals zone where he leveled a Northeast player with a clean check just under the blue line. The loose biscuit bounced its way over to Tyrone Bronte who deftly maneuvered through Northeast’s traffic before sending a beautiful pass to an open Kidney in front for the emphatic score.

Despite the strong execution, the Generals wouldn’t go quietly in the second. Jeff Skinner played a Louis Boudon rebound off the back wall perfectly to beat Stoever with a heavy shot at 14:30 in the second. Colin Bilek recorded the secondary assist on the game-tying goal.

By all appearances it looked as if the third period was building up for another hotly contested finish and perhaps another one that would need overtime. Instead, the Knights assembled what could be considered their most dominant period of the season.

After two months in which consistency has eluded the Knights and what was for much of the season, a high-powered offense, the floodgates opened in Monday’s third period.

Just under a minute in, after collecting a pass form Adrian Danchenko, Mike Morrissey slid Reed Robinson a perfect cross-slot feed where Robinson was able to poke an easy goal home. The tally was his 17th of the season, moving him into second on the list of Knights goal scorers.

Just over six minutes later, Tom Farrell forced a turnover at the top of the Generals zone and fed it to Jack Olmstead. The East Division Star of the Week’s lead pass found Curtis Carlson alone in front of Fessenden where the Knights captain made a nifty move to go bar-down for the 3-1 lead.

In a period in which the Knights relentless forecheck out-shot the Generals 22-2, David Fessenden did the best he could to keep the game within comeback distance for Northeast. His play didn’t allow the Knights to run away with the contest, but for their part Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would not allow any time or room for the Generals to mount a comeback at even-strength.

Under siege in their own zone for much of the final period, things slipped further away from the Generals late when their lone power play of the frame resulted in as many shots against as it did for. It was cut short by 26 seconds when Northeast was called for too-many-men during a line change. The result saw Fessenden pulled with under two minutes remaining to make the 5-on-4 a 5-on-5 with an empty net.

The Knights foiled the approach with just under a minute to play when Jack Olmstead hopped on a puck at the top of the Generals zone and skated it to the empty cage for the easy empty-net, power play score. The goal iced the contest, bringing the Knights their second win of the weekend and fortifying their third place lead to three points, with a now 6-2-1 record against the Generals in the season head-to-head.

Looking forward to this weekend, the Knights will take on the first-place Philadelphia Rebels this weekend with two games on the road. The first will take place at the Class of 1923 arena on Friday, March 9th at 7:10 PM EST. The Knights will then travel to the Wells Fargo Center the next night to play the Rebels in a special regular season contest on the home ice of the Philadelphia Flyers at 5:30 PM EST. Visit this link for more details on tickets for Saturday’s game! Both games will be streamed on hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for further news and updates!