Tag Archives: Justin Engelkes

Knights Enter Final Four Looking to Extend Torrid Run

Written By: Nicholas Marotta

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

The Knights touched down in Minnesota Wednesday to enter the final stages of their pursuit of a Robertson Cup. Today they will face the Shreveport Mudbugs in a best-of-three series to determine which of the pair will play for the Robertson Cup on Monday.

After a gritty 3-2 series win over the New Jersey Titans, the Knights swept their way through the Philadelphia Rebels to win the right to represent the East Division in the Final Four. Less than two weeks have passed since the team punched their tickets to Blaine, but how did they earn the trip?  

Not only was the journey carried by a complete team effort, but this postseason run has come off of the back of many strong individual performances.

One key player that immediately stands out is goalie Christian Stoever.  Number 31 has been a wall in the playoffs. In his seven playoff starts, he has allowed less than three goals in five games, including a shutout in a 1-0 victory against the Titans in game four of the first round.  

In the team’s more recent series against Philadelphia, Stoever had a save percentage of 94%.  Even more impressive is that Stoever has had a knack for stepping up in big spots during both series. In round one, facing consecutive elimination games, he produced a shutout in game four, followed by a 49-save effort to win the series.

Rookie forward Jack Olmstead has also been a major contributor during the Knights’ playoff run.  Olmstead has had a point in every Knights playoff game this season, and scored two goals in the team’s second game of their series against Philadelphia. The line of Olmstead, Michael Morrissey, and Matt Kidney are three of the top four scorers in the 2018 playoffs for the Knights.  Olmstead, however, leads the team in points with ten.

Other new faces on the Knights NAHL roster for this season include Gabe Temple, who has three goals in the playoffs, and Tyrone Bronte, who’s notched three goals and three assists so far.  

Even in a season highlighted by great rookie performances, veterans like Reed Robinson and Curtis Carlson have been a strong base for the newer members of the team to rise to the forefront.  

Robinson scored the fourth and final goal in the first game of the team’s series against Philadelphia, while Carlson was able to put the team up 2-1 in their eventual 5-4 victory against the Rebels in game two.  Carlson has scored three other goals in the playoffs, and Robinson another goal and assist.

The Knights defensive end has been equally impressive throughout the postseason. Led by veteran Joey Verkerke and All-East blue-liner Thomas Farrell, the group of rookies has helped the team keep their average goals against at 2.25 throughout the playoffs.  Verkerke, who’s had a keen eye for passing and a knack for blocking shots, has an active four game point streak via four assists.

Tonight’s puck drop against Shreveport will be the team’s first appearance in the Final Four and their second meeting on the season with Shreveport. With a staunch defense and a potent offense, the team is poised for to make a run toward Robertson Cup.

Tune into tonight’s game on www.hockeytv.com and follow along through Knights social media and at www.nahl.com.

 

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!

Game 2: Knights Storm Back to Even Series with Titans

Any postseason series in hockey is determined by momentum swings or lack thereof. Following a 5-2 loss to New Jersey in their East Division Semi-Finals opener, the Knights looked to reverse course on Sunday or face the risk of falling into a 2-0 deficit.

Neither the Titans nor the Knights found much momentum through the opening 20 minutes of game two. Though Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held a definitive advantage in offensive chances in the opening period, they could not solve Titans netminder Brandon Perrone while peppering him with 19, first-period shots.

For their part, the Titans offense mustered nine shots on the net of Christian Stoever, manning the pipes for his Knights postseason debut. The Northville, Michigan native stopped the first eight shots New Jersey put on goal, but early penalties finally caught up with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

While attempting to kill off a 5-on-3, the Knights were beaten on a swift passing from Nick Boyagian, who fed Kyler Head, parked to the right of Stoever. Head, who authored two power play goals in game one, pulled Stoever’s attention and motion to the right post. Head then threaded a back-door pass to a waiting  Hunter Alden, whose shot beat Stoever’s scramble to get back across with 8 seconds left in the period.

Down a goal heading into the middle frame for the second-consecutive game, the Knights would fire out of the first intermission with a blistering pace. Like the night before, they tallied the second period’s first goal to tie the game.

On an early power play, the Knights set up a strong cycle in the Titans zone. From the right circle, Michael Morrissey zipped a puck back to Thomas Farrell, who let a howitzer shot go from the point. Perrone made the initial save, only to see the rebound kick over to Gabe Temple in front. Temple buried the puck for the game-tying goal just shy of the 3:00 mark of the frame.

Temple’s tally set off an avalanche. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forecheck was unrelenting through much of the period. They were rewarded with their next score, just past the nine minute mark. Jake Fuss tangled and won a puck in the Titans far corner before driving from to the front of Perrone’s net. Fuss fired a shot off the goalie’s pads and the rebound glanced over back to the trailing Tomas Koblizek who ripped the puck over Perrone for the Knights first lead.

Farrell followed up with a goal of his own less than a minute later. Matt Kidney jarred a puck free with a check in the right corner of the attacking zone. Jack Olmstead found the biscuit and fired it to the top of the slot where Farrell ripped it through traffic, past Perrone for the 3-1 lead.

The Knights advantage was continually protected by an excellent outing from Christian Stoever. The 2000-born netminder neutralized New Jersey’s attempts to mount a rally with a bevvy of impressive saves.

In the period’s final minute, a forechecking Tomas Koblizek fought off two Titans before kicking the puck to Jake Fuss. From under the New Jersey goal line, Fuss, facing the glass of the end boards, flipped a perfect no-look pass to Tyrone Bronte streaking toward the net. Bronte pulled Perrone out of the crease with a fake, before dragging around the goalie for the highlight-reel goal.

In the third, the Knights didn’t sit on their lead, continuing their attack, despite facing resistance from the Titans always-dangerous transition game. Stoever stood tall throughout, making 11 saves in the game’s final frame, finishing with 29 on 30 shots on the evening.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s final insurance came on a delayed Titans penalty a little more than halfway through the third. On a play in which Blake Kryska was hit into his own end wall from behind, the big defenseman was able to steer the puck through the check and up the boards to Luke Robinson. After a brief survey, Robinson laced a long stretch pass to Justin Engelkes, waiting behind the Titans defense in neutral ice. Engelkes, moving in alone on Perrone, beat the savvy goaltender with flutter move from his backhand to the forehand to put the Knights ahead 5-1.

There the score would hold through the remainder of the contest, delivering the Knights a much-needed, series equalizer. The teams will meet again for game three at the Revolution Ice Centre in the best of five series this Friday, April 20th at 5:00 PM EDT. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!

Knights Falter in Game Two of Weekend

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!

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!

 

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!

NAHL: Seven Knights Named To Top Prospects Tournament

On Monday afternoon, the NAHL announced the rosters for its annual top prospects tournament. Seven of the Knights players made the cut, tied for the second-highest mark in the league, with NAHL Head Coach Tom Kowal being named as assistant to the East Division’s team. That team will carry four Knights players while the at large  White team will have three.

“Our purpose has always been preparing and helping our players onto the next level of hockey,” said Kowal. “Sending seven guys this year feels good. It says a lot about the hard work and talent each of them brings to the rink every day, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase them to college and professional scouts. At the same time it provides a nice incentive to the rest of our guys who are eligible next year as well.”

Team East Division (Orange Color):
#2, Tom Farrell, Defenseman, 3-13-16, 40 GP:

Farrell is the Knights leading point-scorer along the blue line and has secured his place as a regular starter atop the team’s defensive pairs.

“Tom has walked into this organization and has proved to be every bit the player we hoped he was when he tendered with us last year,” said Kowal. “He brings great energy both on the ice and in our dressing room. His top-level skating makes him a really good puck-mover. He has really helped spark our offense this year while also being a steady player on our end of the ice.”

#11 Curtis Carlson, Forward, 15-13-28, 41 GP:

The Knights captain has been an asset to the team this season, using his rare speed to be a threat in all situations. The ‘97 has been present in all phases, particularly on special teams. Carlson leads the Knights, scoring five goals and four assists between the power play and penalty kill.

“Curtis is a guy who’s been here dating back a few years now, and it’s impressive how he continues to make strides as a player,” said Kowal. “His speed is obvious, but he’s a savvy veteran. His work ethic translates both on and off the ice and is a big reason why he’s developed into one of our best players. He’s our captain because he leads by example. He leaves it all on the ice.”

#12 Mike Morrissey, Forward, 9-11-20, 42 GP:

One of the Knights most tenured players is Bethlehem, PA native, Mike Morrissey. He’ll be heading to his first Top Prospects Tournament after putting together an impressive 42 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year.

“Mike Morrissey is a tone-setter,” said Kowal. “He’s a guy who plays with a lot of grit-he takes the blood and sweat part of playing hockey literally-and when we need a big shift or faceoff win, we’re comfortable calling his number. He’s a really smart center who’s worked his bag off to be one our most versatile players.”

#16 Matt Kidney, Forward, 13-24-37, 42 GP:

After leading the team in scoring last year, Kidney finds himself in a familiar position, tied atop the points list with Knights rookie phenom Jack Olmstead through just over two-thirds of the season. The 2018 tournament marks his second trip as an NAHL top prospect.

“We made Matt Kidney our first-round pick in 2016 because of what he brings with to the ice with his hockey sense,” recalled Kowal. “He’s a guy who gets our offense going. He’s quick, he’s got good hands and a knack to find the puck and create chances. He’s not the biggest guy, but he brings a good compete level to the game.”

Team Selects-White:

#7 Adrian Danchenko, Forward, 9-13-22, 36 GP:

Still one of the younger players on the Knights roster, Adrian Danchenko is one of the Knights more tenured players dating back to his 16U days. The dekes and dangles he’s compiled in his time with the program dot highlight reels, but he brings a well-rounded game to any roster.

“Adrian is a ‘99 who’s still just scratching the surface,” said Kowal. “He’s improved every year we’ve had him. He’s been a constant for us this season. He can grind out tough shifts but also pull off some truly special plays. He’s been a threat no matter who his line mates are or what the in-game situation is.”

#27 Luke Robinson, Defenseman, 0-14-14, 37 GP:

After playing in one game with the Knights last season, Luke Robinson returned full time to establish himself among the Knights talented group of defensemen.

“As a 2000, Luke has shown us a lot,” said Kowal. “He’s a big guy who’s steady for us in our own zone, but he’s done a nice job continuing to develop his offensive game. He’s distributing the puck well and consistently making smart plays. He’s added another reliable member to our blue line.

#28 Justin Engelkes, Forward, 8-8-16, 37 GP:

As a 17-year old, Justin Engelkes has broken into the NAHL with a solid rookie campaign. The forward was the Knights second-round draft pick and has already committed to the Miami University of Ohio.

“Justin has established himself as a two-way player who has the necessary toughness to play in this league and beyond,” said his head coach. “I think he’s come along nicely. He’s got good size and likes to go to work down low and on the boards. He’s a guy that’s tough to move off the puck, and he’s shown us the ability to score as well. He’s got even more to offer and it’s exciting to see him unlock his game.”

From NAHL.com

The number of players each NAHL team is sending to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South and two NAHL Selects teams, will each play in two game games, was based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of February 5, 2018.
One of the things the NAHL does better than any other junior league is seeing their players earn an NCAA opportunity while playing and being showcased in the NAHL.

To date, 153 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2017-18 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event. The event continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as, some potential NHL Draft picks.

2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule (subject to change, all times eastern)

Tuesday, February 27th
1:00pm: Midwest Division vs. NAHL Selects Red
4:00pm: South Division vs. East Division
7:00pm: Central Division vs. NAHL Selects White

Wednesday, February 28th
11:00am: NAHL Selects Red vs. South Division
2:00pm: Central Division vs. Midwest Division
5:00pm: NAHL Selects White vs. East Division

Can’t make the game? Catch your Knights on www.hockeytv.com where each game will be available via live broadcast! Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media-Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey, Twitter: @WBSKnights-for all Knights Top Prospect Tournament Updates!

 

Weekend Recap: Knights Split Series with Kenai River

As the Knights began their two week trip to Alaska, the team went searching for the success that had eluded them for the majority of January and early February. Their third head-to-head with the Brown Bears marked their first trip to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex this season. It began well: Knights captain Curtis Carlson buried his 14th goal of the season off assists from Matt Kidney and Anthony Firriolo seven and a half minutes into the contest.

The first period carried on without further scoring despite two power plays for the Brown Bears. Knights starter David Tomeo brought his a-game to the crease as he stopped all shots sent his way in an evenly played first.

It would be Kenai River to come out swinging in the second. Filip Karlsson tied the game at 6:59 with assists from Gil Garcia and Lukas Millen. Gavin Enright hunkered down in net for the Brown Bears, as the ’99 birth year kept the Knights off the board for the better part of the period.

Sutton McDonald would score next for Kenai River, supplying their first lead at 16:43, with Michael Spethmann and Luke Posner credited with the helpers on the score. The Knights would get the goal back less than two minutes later when Tomas Koblizek found Gabe Temple for his fourth marker of the year.

In the third, Mike Gelatt would find the back of the net to retake the lead for the Knights just 2:27 in. Kenai River would redouble their efforts to try to find the equalizer, mounting 16 shots on goal in the period, but David Tomeo didn’t blink.

Through two penalty kills and a chippy finish to game one, the Knights held on to kick off their road trip with a win. Elemental to the victory were the Knights strong penalty kill and Tomeo’s steadiness in net, recording 32 saves on 34 shots.

In Saturday’s rematch, the Knights would again jump out to a quick start. Luke Robinson and Curtis Carlson would find Matt Kidney, who bested former Knights goalie Kevin Lake at 1:01. The Brown Bears wouldn’t rest easy with the deficit, scoring just one minute later when David Kaplan fired a heavy wrist shot by Knights starter David Tomeo to even the score (Markuss Komuls, Cameron McDonald). The Carlson line struck back at 4:02, when Carlson drove in and fired a puck past Lake for the 2-1 lead (Engelkes, Kidney).

An eventful first half of the opening period would be capped off by Joe Rosa’s power play goal at 8:02. After killing off all six power plays in game one, the Knights penalty kill struggled to get back on track Saturday. Former Knight defenseman Markuss Komuls made a nice play to keep the zone before firing the puck to the net. Michael Spethmann pushed a puck off Tomeo’s pads before Joe Rosa put the bouncing puck home to tie the game at two. The goal brought Christian Stoever on in relief of Tomeo.

Early in the second, the Knights forecheck would begin dictating tempo and forcing odd-man rushes. Two and a half minutes into the period, Jack Olmstead handed the puck to Tyrone Bronte who fed a perfect stretch pass to Mike Gelatt to create an odd-man break. Gelatt finished the rush by burying the puck by Lake for the 3-2 lead.

Again the Brown Bears would answer quickly, and again on the power play. Cameron McDonald and Filip Karlsson created a rebound in front of Stoever that Gil Garcia eventually shoveled home to once again even the score.

For the remainder of regulation, the Knights would continually force the issue in the offensive zone and off the rush. Again and again they would be turned away by Lake, who made 24 saves on 25 shots over the final two periods of play, staring down multiple odd-man rushes in the process.

Stoever, for his part, turned away 29 of 30 through the remainder of the contest. As regulation proved inconclusive, 3-on-3 overtime brought with it an abundance of chances on the Soldotna’s Olympic-sized sheet. Both Stoever and Lake traded grade-a saves to force the shootout.

Lake stopped Justin Engelkes and Curtis Carlson in rounds one and two, while Stoever denied his first challenger in Emils Ezitis. Sacha Guillemain squeezed a puck through in round two, forcing the onus on Matt Kidney to try and force a bottom of the third. Lake stopped him to secure the shootout win and the second point.

With the weekend split, the Knights did come away with three out of four points. They’ll look to continue their recent success with a road trip to Fairbanks next weekend. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media (Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey, Twitter and Instagram @WBSKnights) for all news and updates!

NAHL: Knights Drop Home Contest Against Titans

Matinee hockey came to the Revolution Ice Centre on Thursday, as the Knights hosted an intra-division game against the  New Jersey Titans. Both teams entered play on losing streaks, looking to start February off on a better foot.

New Jersey would be the first to find their ground on the afternoon as Hunter Alden fired a puck by Knights starter Christian Stoever at 10:07. Todd Goehring and Holden Biebel recorded assists on the game’s first goal.

Less than a minute later Matthew Cameron corralled a bouncing puck in the slot and ripped it home to build a 2-0 lead (Spencer Stanley). At 15:49 Cameron Kuhl found Tyler Antonucci at the top of his own zone where the latter fired a breakaway pass to Ryan Naumovski. Naumovski broke free to bury the Titans third goal.

In the second, Naumovski continued rolling when he and Nick Boyagian came into the Knights zone on an odd-man rush. Keeping the puck, Naumovski buried his second goal of the game at 11:04. The score brought about a change in net for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as David Tomeo came on for Stoever.

The Titans would score their fifth tally at 15:38 when Kyle Jeffers found a rebound off Tomeo’s initial sprawling save for the tap-in goal (Naumovski, Antonucci).

Anthony Firriolo finally put the Knights on the board, firing a puck from the corner off a body in front of Titans goalie Brandon Perrone. The puck deflected to the net with 2:30 remaining in the period, marking Firriolo’s first goal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Matthew Kidney and Jack Olmstead would pick up helpers on the score,

Justin Engelkes would keep the Knights alive at the start of the third when he picked up his eighth goal of the year just 2:08 into the frame (Firriolo, Bronte). Engelkes hammered a rebound off Perrone’s pads, and before the goalie could reset, Engelkes flipped the puck to the twine.

The Titans would get the tally back at 7:07 when Todd Goehring, after quick passing from Hunter Alden and Kyler Head, raced in off the rush and fired a wrister past Tomeo.

The Knights would pull Tomeo for an extra attacker with under 5:00 to go to try and spark some momentum in the attacking end. After Perrone and the Titans defense were able to keep the Knights forecheck at bay for a pair of shifts, Holden Biebel cleared the zone to Matthew Cameron. Cameron would get down the ice to pick up his second goal of the contest to put the game to bed at 17:53.

With a 7-2 final, the Knights will look to bounce back with another contest this evening in New Jersey. Puck drop is set for 7:45 pm EST, and the game can be viewed on hockeytv.com. Visit the Knights twitter account @WBSKnights and check www.nahl.com for in-game updates!

RECAP: Knights Kick Off Second Half With Convincing Win

Fresh off Christmas and holiday festivities, the Knights returned to home ice on Friday to take on the Kenai River Brown Bears. The first of four meetings between the pair kicked off quickly in favor of the home team.

Just 3:37 into play, Matt Kidney notched his 10th goal of the season when he fired a Jack Olmstead rebound past Brown Bears starting goalie Artur Pavliukov. Paul Cimilluca picked up a secondary assist for his third helper of the season.

The Knights kept their foot on the gas pedal largely dictating play through the opening 20 minutes. The back check limited quality chances on starting goaltender David Tomeo, while the forecheck spent ample time in the attacking end.

Curtis Carlson capped off the strong period when off a faceoff win, the Knights captain fed a pass to Matt Kidney waiting in the middle of the slot. Kidney flipped his second goal of the night past Pavliukov to send the Knights to the first intermission with a multi-goal lead.

Three minutes into the second, during a stretch of 4-on-4 play, Gabe Temple followed Carlson’s example, immediately flipping a face off win to Justin Engelkes in the slot. Engelkes hammered a one-timer to the twine for his seventh goal of the season and a 3-0 Knights lead.

Tomeo and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense weathered the Brown Bears push-back in the second half of the period before the Knights drew a penalty at 15:52. 16 seconds into the team’s third power play of the evening, Reed Robinson fired a puck home to build a 4-0 lead. Adrian Danchenko and Blake Kryska registered the assists.

The final frame of regulation kicked off with the Knights on the penalty kill. The Brown Bears, owners of one of the NAHL’s most potent power plays, capitalized on their third turn on the man advantage, when Gil Garcia ripped a shot from the slot by Tomeo for Kenai River’s first goal (Sacha Guillemain, Cameron McDonald).

The goal swung momentum to the Brown Bears forecheck, as they drew three more penalties in the first five minutes of the third. The Knights penalty kill and Tomeo combined to erase the remainder of the penalties taken, but Kenai River continued to force Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to chase in their own zone.

At 6:59, Gabriel Wahl fed former Knight Markuss Komuls whose rebound found Connor Fedorek pinching down from the blue line. Fedorek picked the puck up in the slot and weaved it around Tomeo to narrow the deficit to two.

Determined to squash the comeback effort, the Knights offense found a renewed rhythm and resumed their offensive on Artur Pavliukov’s crease. The Lithuanian netminder stood tall in a gritty effort that even saw him briefly leave the ice after sustaining a minor injury in the second.

Despite Pavliukov’s best efforts, including 42 total saves and one robbery of Jack Olmstead, Curtis Carlson put the game to bed at 13:56. Set up by Lincoln Hatten and Luke Robinson, Carlson fired a puck from the right circle through traffic and Pavliukov to put the Knights ahead by three.

Despite multiple penalties being assessed to both sides through the final five minutes of play, the 5-2 score held through the final horn. With the win, the Knights improve to 19-7-3, placing them just one point behind the Philadelphia Rebels for first place in the East Division. They’ll have the opportunity to regain the top spot in round two of Knights-Brown Bears today at 2:30 pm. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com, with live updates being posted to Knights Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

KNIGHTS ALUMNI: SPRONG RECALLED TO PITTSBURGH

Former Knights forward and current Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong was recalled to the NHL from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins roster today. Sprong played for the Knights Bantam Major team in the 2011-12 season, helping them to a national championship title. Through 29 games in the AHL this season, the 2015 NHL second-round pick has scored 18 goals and 10 assists. The Knights are happy for Daniel and wish him the best of luck in Pittsburgh!