Tag Archives: Lincoln Hatten

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 Fall to Shreveport to End Great Season

Photo: John Elftmann/NAHL

On Saturday, in their 70th game of the year, the Knights were faced with their third contest with win-or-go home stakes. Wins in the first two such games gave them confidence heading into their battle with the Shreveport Mudbugs. 

Out again for a stone-cold goalie showdown was Christian Stoever for the Knights and Jaxon Castor for the Mudbugs. Their game one meeting produced the third star for Stoever and top star for Castor following Shreveport’s 2-0 victory Friday. 

In front of both skated 18 teammates hungry to advance to the first Robertson Cup Championship in their respective teams’ short histories.

After being battered through the third period in their game one loss, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton erupted off of game two’s opening puck drop, taking speed and physicality to Shreveport in the game’s first eight minutes. Taking six of the game’s first seven shots, the Knights had the Mudbugs on their heels through much of the first 10 minutes. Castor withstood the early push to allow his team early room for error. 

Just shy of the 9:00 mark, the Mudbugs awoke. Their response was their trademark, grinding forecheck trapping the Knights for consecutive shifts in their own zone. 

Though the tables had suddenly turned, Christian Stoever did not. The netminder maintained his steady play, turning away nine-straight shots before the Knights dug out of their own zone late in the period. 

On a late push back into the attacking zone, Curtis Carlson and Reed Robinson nearly found the game’s first goal, just left of the Shreveport net. Castor reached back just enough to bat away the puck. At the end of of a see-saw first, the game was locked in a scoreless tie.

Carlson, Robinson, and Hatten, slighted by their near miss at the end of the first, hit the ice hard in the opening minute of the second frame. On the forecheck Reed Robinson forced a puck up the left wing boards, back to Joey Verkerke at the point. Verkerke fed Carlson in the middle of the slot, where the Knights captain dragged his way around a man, freeing himself in front of the net. With his final move in the effort to beat Castor, Carlson’s handle on the puck came free to Lincoln Hatten. The Texas winger scooped up the loose puck and buried it for his second goal of the postseason, just 53 seconds into the period. 

With the boost of an early strike and their first lead of the series, the Knights hit the gas pedal. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, the team took command of the pace of play, drawing three penalties and spending ample time over the offensive blue line. 

Castor stood tall, keeping the puck out of the net through eight more Knights shots. The vaunted Shreveport penalty kill did their part in keeping the Knights power play off the board. 

With just over two minutes remaining, the Mudbugs pushed back. Roberts Baranovskis put a shot on net from the right circle, pulling Stoever out of the crease in the process of making the save. The rebound kicked over to Brendan VanSweden on the left circle. Taking a shot at a seemingly open net, VanSweden was robbed by a sprawling Thomas Farrell, negating the Mudbugs best chance of the period.

At 18:43 in, the Knights took their first penalty to set up a stretch of 4-on-4 play.

In the waining minute of the period, they took advantage of the extra space and drove into the offensive zone. On the left half-wall Curtis Carlson poked a puck down low to Jack Olmstead in the corner. Olmstead centered the puck to the slot for a crashing Shay Donovan. In alone, Donovan was robbed when Castor stacked his pads in a sprawling kick save, robbing the Knights of a 2-0 lead. Through 40 minutes they would instead have to settle for a one-goal advantage. 

In the third, Shreveport finally began to break through. A centering pass from the right wing corner off the stick of Jordan Fader was poked by a crashing Ryan Burnett through the save attempt of Stoever. The tying score at 5:02 brought juice to the Shreveport attack. 

On their second power play of the game, the Mudbugs cashed in on a mad scramble in front of Stoever’s net after the goalie made a quick stick save. Gueorgui Feduolov found the bouncing puck and squeezed it inside the right post to take a 2-1 lead at 7:14. 

A five-minute major assessed to the Knights for a boarding at 7:39 touched off a series of costly penalties. For seven minutes and 44 seconds the Knights were shorthanded, as they were given four penalties over the span. They killed them all, including two stretches down 5-on-3. 

Emerging without allowing a goal, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still had life down just one with 4:37 remaining in the third. Their final push included over a minute with the extra attacker on, but they could not solve Castor and Shreveport’s defense. 

At the horn, the Knights season ended with a 2-1 defeat. A great season ended two games too soon, but in the coming days the Knights will reflect on a hard-fought year that won accolades, respect, and most importantly advancement to the next level in both college and junior hockey.

The team will return home one last time Tuesday following the conclusion of the NAHL’s Robertson Cup. To all Knights fans, players, families, and staff, thank you for a fantastic season! 

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 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!

Slow Start, Chippy Finish too Much for Knights to Overcome in Game 1

Series openers can set a tone, and if yesterday’s competition is any indication, the Knights and Titans first round will have no shortage of fireworks. Though Saturday’s score reflected a one-sided affair, the contest was hardly lopsided, as shots and penalty minutes flew abundantly from both sides.

The biggest separator between the Knights and Titans was New Jersey’s fast start in the first period, Saturday. With the benefit of home ice and a lively crowd behind them, the Titans controlled play through much of the first frame. David Tomeo earned the start in game one, and was tested early and often. In an otherwise sterling period, the West Caldwell backstop was bested twice on 23 shots.

Just past the 7:30 marker, a Titans combination of Nick Boyagian and Ryan Naumovski, swept in over the Knights blue line. Boyagian passed over to Naumovski on the right wing, where he centered the puck back to the top of the slot for the crashing Jimmy Dowd. The defenseman’s heavy shot rang off the pads of Tomeo who had charged to the top of the crease. The rebound kicked right back to Dowd, whose second try was denied by Tomeo sprawling forward and directing the puck to the side of the net, losing his stick in the process. Boyagian sat in waiting on the near goal post, but his effort to put the loose change home behind the fallen Tomeo missed through the crease. It kicked fortuitously back to Naumovksi, who circled his way to the top of the zone. Narrowly avoiding a shot block effort by Justin Engelkes, Naumovski flicked a quick wrister on goal, beating Tomeo to the back post for the 1-0 lead.

On the Knights third penalty kill of the period, the Titans struck again. The first shot coming from Ryan Wheeler off the cycle was turned aside by Tomeo. The rebound could not be cleared, as Boyagian climbed down the right boards to sift the puck back to the original point man, Wheeler. This time, he connected with Hunter Alden on a crisp pass to the middle of the slot, just past the stick of Reed Robinson. With space in the middle of the ice, Alden pulled Blake Kryska to the bottom of the slot in an attempt to block a shot that never came. Instead, Alden found the now-open Kyler Head at the bottom of the right circle, where the forward ripped a puck through, short side for the 2-0 lead at 18:36.

Resilient, the Knights ended an otherwise quiet period with a bang. After seeing limited action through much of the first, Titans starter Matt Ladd was beaten by the speed of the Knights transition offense. With about 20 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Matt Kidney sent an exit pass up the left wing boards to Jack Olmstead. Olmstead turned and curled a puck through neutral ice to Tyrone Bronte. Bronte gave the puck back to Olmstead as the pair gained the Titans line. From out wide on the left circle, Olmstead sent a perfect centering pass to the crashing Shay Donovan on the back door, where he deflected the rubber home, cutting the lead to one goal with 14 seconds left in the first.

The catalyst of a late-period goal bolstering them into the second, the Knights started the middle stanza with an explosive attack. Just past a minute in, on a seemingly innocent face-off win and charge up the left wall, the Titans were foiled once more by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s transition offense. Luke Robinson shut off Nick Boyagian just after he left his own zone. The loose puck was corralled and swung back to the Knights blue line by Reed Robinson. His pass found Blake Kryska who took a pair of strides before firing a stretch pass off the blade of Lincoln Hatten for what looked to be a routine tip-in. Hardly anything is routine when Curtis Carlson is skating into the attacking zone. Using his speed, the Knights captain plucked the puck off its fortuitous bounce off the side boards. He then blew past both Spencer Stanley and Ryan Wheeler, and with a quick flick of the wrists, ripped a shot across the face of Ladd for the game-tying goal.

From there, the Knights continued their siege of Ladd’s crease. Over the first half of the period, Ladd stood down a flurry of Knights shots, keeping the game even at two. As the Knights chances on goal mounted, so too did the tension and physicality of play.

Tomeo answered Ladd’s steady netminding with strong saves of his own. As the Titans weathered the early Knights surge, they began to create chances back the other way in the form of rushes down the ice. Twice Tomeo robbed the Titans on breakaways. The momentum slowly began to swing back to New Jersey’s effort as they began to breakout more cleanly and more often.

The turning point came just after the 13:00 mark of the second. After fending off shots from Tate Singleton and Zachary Farmeouth, Tomeo was beaten when Faremouth’s rebound was sent back to him from the corner by Hunter Alden. The centering feed allowed Faremouth to tee up a one-timer that was altered by a stick as he connected. The bad-luck puck came up high and off a Knights body in front of Tomeo, completely changing course in mid-air. The arching shot floated over the outstretched stick of the Knights goaltender and into the twine. Just after the puck crossed the goal line, Tomeo was knocked flat by Singleton, prompting a major scrum in the crease. Penalties were handed to each side to create a 4-on-4.

The Titans added a second man to the box after they were caught with too many men on the ice during a line change. The abbreviated Knights 4-on-3 and then 5-on-4 power play was cut just short on a high-intensity sequence of events with just seconds remaining on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton advantage. As the Knights circled the net of Ladd, Tyrone Bronte was laid out by Tate Singleton in the low slot as the Titans regained possession of the puck. On the ensuing clearing effort, Blake Kryska leveled Hunter Alden as he fielded the puck at the center ice logo. Kryska was penalized with a 5:00 major for kneeing.

After an initially neutralizing the first 3:51 of the extended Titans power play, the Knights penalty kill finally buckled. With 7.5 seconds left in the period, Hunter Alden and Ryan Wheeler played catch at the top of the Knights zone before Alden let a shot go that was re-directed through a screen in front by Kyler Head. The puck tucked its way through, giving the Titans a 4-2 lead.

In the third, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton killed off the remainder of the major penalty, but neither side could resist the urge to extend chippy exchanges beyond the whistle. All totaled, the teams combined for 54 penalty minutes-seven minor penalties, three misconducts-sapping five on five hockey, and ultimately working to preserve the two-goal lead for New Jersey.

The Titans added one more goal to their ledger at the halfway point of the third. Kyle Jeffers raced in over the line, and handed a puck to the just-onside Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler alertly found the wide-open Wade Novak crashing through the back side of the zone, where he buried the puck for the 5-2 lead.

Time ran out on the Knights comeback effort as the Titans took game one on the back of physical, emotional effort. A pivotal game two takes place today again in New Jersey at 5:00 PM EDT. Tune in on hockeytv.com and follow along on Knights social media!

Knights Withstand Titans in Tuesday Night Win

The regular season’s final meeting between the Knights and Titans took place in New Jersey Tuesday night. The teams had traded a win and a loss over the course of two meetings this weekend. With the Titans entering the evening with a one point lead for second place in the East, a New Jersey win would clinch them home ice advantage through the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Standing in their way was Knights goaltender David Tomeo. The West Caldwell, New Jersey native stoned the Titans on Friday making 52 saves on 53 shots. The Titans rebounded Saturday and chased him from the game in the second period, on their way to a 5-1 win.

On this night, Tomeo would quickly regain his Friday form that has helped carry the Knights to a 3-1 record over their previous four games. Despite the Titans getting the early jump, they could not solve Tomeo in the opening period, seeing a staggering 23 shots-many of high quality-fail to find the twine.

For their part, the Knights offense picked up steam slowly. They were besieged by the Titans transition game for good portions of the opening frame. Further limiting their attack was Matthew Ladd, fresh off a sterling performance against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday. He was steady again early, stopping all 10 shots he faced in the first.

The second period began in similar fashion, with the early tilt of the ice belonging to the Titans. Tomeo hunkered down yet again, keeping New Jersey at bay, on his way to a 13-save middle stanza.

The turning point for the Knights offense came at the 7:43 mark. Shay Dononvan intercepted a Titans clearing effort at the top of the zone. He turned and lifted a shot high through traffic, beating Ladd under the crossbar for the Knights 1-0 lead. Off the ensuing faceoff, Joey Verkerke ladled a puck to Gabe Temple down the left wing, into Titans territory. Temple filtered a pass ahead to the left side of the zone, through Tomas Koblizek, and to Jake Fuss in the low slot. Fuss slammed the puck by Ladd, giving the Knights two goals within nine seconds of play.

Bruised but not yet beaten, the Titans regained some of their stride around the three-quarter mark of the period. Following a Knights penalty at 14:40, the Titans were able to capitalize to trim the deficit to one. The Knights penalty kill was bested with about 40 seconds remaining in the Titans man-advantage.

Set up by Ryan Naumovski, Matthew Cameron fired a pass through to the slot where a waiting Tyler Antonucci deflected the puck by Tomeo to put New Jersey on the board.

With no further scoring in the second, the next goal in a 2-1 game would decide who controlled momentum in the third.

Early in the third, Jake Fuss came crashing down the right wing of the New Jersey zone. He fought through a heavy check to flip the puck back to Luke Robinson at the point. Robinson fed a pass to the middle of the to Tomas Koblizek. The Czech winner spun impressively off a body and turned the puck to Morrissey firing into the low slot. The Knights assistant captain buried the biscuit past Ladd for the 3-1 lead, 2:13 into the third.

The Titans would answer five minutes later when, off a set up by Zachary Faremouth, Hunter Alden gained the middle of the Knights line. At the top of the slot, he dangled his way through one pair of skates before deftly dropping the puck back for the trailing Eric Manoukian. The defenseman didn’t miss on a quick release from the middle of the ice, as the Titans again cut the lead to one.

The see-saw third saw New Jersey continue to push offensive play while the Knights attempted to protect their lead. Tomeo and the back check withstood New Jersey’s efforts long enough to force the Titans to empty their net with a minute to go. The first draw with the open net came deep in Knights territory. Curtis Carlson won possession for the Knights, only to see the Titans force a quick turnover. Lincoln Hatten took it right back for the Knights fired the puck into the open net New Jersey twine at 19:03.

The 4-2 lead would be tested, as the Titans would empty the net again and even take a penalty shot near the game’s end, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense and Tomeo (43 saves) would hold strong through it all. At the final horn, the Knights had the victory and possession of second place in the East once again.

They’ll look to add to their one-point lead in the standings with a 3:05 pm EDT resumption of play today against the Philadelphia Rebels. The final game of the Knights regular season will pick up midway through the first as it is a continuation of a postponed game form earlier in the season. The score is 2-0 Rebels. Tune in for the Knights comeback effort on hockeytv.com, and follow along with Knights social media and at nahl.com!

Friday Final: Knights 4, Rebels 2

Friday’s match up with the Philadelphia Rebels pitted the Knights against their division rivals for the fourth consecutive game. Having lost the prior three meetings, the Knights entered play determined to reverse the course of the last week of play.

Christian Stoever and the Knights defenders withstood a barrage of Early Philadelphia chances, as the Rebels jumped out to an early shot advantage of 11-2. The Knights swung the pendulum in the opposite direction near the midway point of the opening period, capitalizing on a failed, yet aggressive power play to build offensive chances.

At the 13:25 mark, Michael Morrissey surprised goalie Eli Billing as he came out to play a puck behind the goal line. Billing was able to hand the puck off to a teammate, but in the hurried exchange, the puck was pulled free by Morrissey. The Knights assistant captain found Jack Olmstead further behind the line, where Olmstead then fed an open Mike Gelatt in front. The other assistant captain buried the puck over the shoulder of the returned Billing to claim the 1-0 lead.

The Knights barrage of chances increased in wake of the goal, and in the period’s final minute they would strike again. Tyrone Bronte, off helpers from Thomas Farrell and Blake Kryska, burst down the right wing and around the last Rebels defender. In the process, the Australian forward cut sharply in front of Billing, who opened the five hole just wide enough for Bronte to slip the puck through, putting the Knights up 2-0 in the final minute of the first.

The lone score of the second period would come quickly, as in the period’s first minute the Rebels committed an early slashing penalty. Instead of the Knights power play cashing in, a quick Wilkes-Barre/Scranton turnover at the top of the Rebels zone turned into a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush the other way. Auggie Moore deftly slid the puck across the Knights zone to a crashing Eric Olson, who ripped a shot past Christian Stoever to halve the Knights lead.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would respond with a heavy dose of shots through the remainder of the man advantage, but Eli Billing (33 saves) had settled in. The ’97 netminder stopped a staggering 20 shots in the period to keep the Knights to just two goals in the game’s first 40 minutes.

In the third period, play slowed through the first 10 minutes. Shots registered in just the single digits as each side played catch through neutral ice. Finally the Knights broke through when Shay Donovan slid a puck to Lincoln Hatten to create a 2-on-1. Hatten, in a mirror image to Olson’s earlier shorthanded assist, slid the puck perfectly across the slot to the streaking Reed Robinson. The Rockwall, Texas native blasted a puck past the sliding Billing to establish a 3-1 lead for the Knights at the 7:12 marker.

The Rebels would not go quietly. After being blanked on their first two power play tries, Philadelphia would return to their usual success, just past the 13:30 mark in the third. Carson Moniz fed Aaron Maguyon, whose shot forced Christian Stoever to make a diving save. While the rebound kicked out to Jensen Zerban, Stoever hit the ice. Unable to reset and stand in time, Stoever (37 saves) and the Knights could only watch as Zerban cranked home his 17th goal of the season, trimming the lead back to one.

With time winding out, both sides fired up their final pushes to a conclusion. With just over a minute remaining, Billing left the net for an extra attacker. Shortly thereafter, Tyrone Bronte broke out of his own zone with a pass through the middle of neutral ice to Adrian Danchenko. With a deft one-touch pass, Danchenko found Matt Kidney in the middle of the offensive zone. Kidney walked the puck to the open net before emphatically slamming the door on the Rebels comeback.

The empty net goal brought about the final score of 4-2, with the Knights securing their 25th win of the season. They’ll look to keep their momentum rolling with a road trip to New Jersey Tonight for a 7:00 pm EST puck drop against the New Jersey Titans. A regulation win would pull the Knights into a tie for second place in the East with the Titans, a spot which Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held for the majority of the season. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com, and follow along on Knights social media:

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RECAP: Knights Fall to Rebels to Open Weekend

Game one of three for the Knights on the weekend saw them host the Philadelphia Rebels for their third-straight contest. The game began where last weekends’ left off-the Rebels scoring.

A long first period was kicked off by Brandon Stanley, who scored for the second-consecutive game, besting Knights starter David Tomeo off assists from Jimmy Glynn and Diarmad Dimurro.

The Knights would answer on their first power play of the evening, when Blake Kryska crashed down from the blue line to collect a Michael Morrissey rebound which he then put past Rebels goalie Ryan Keane. Tom Farrell picked up a secondary assist on a goal that snapped Keane’s impressive 149:05 shutout streak.

The Rebels would respond quickly. 17 seconds after their score, the Knights found themselves shorthanded for slashing. 1:21 into the man advantage, Ryan Patrick found Carson Moniz for the power play goal.

Philadelphia hit the gas after re-gaining the lead. From the top of the right circle, Aaron Maguyon fired a wrist shot by Tomeo at 9:56 to build a 3-1 advantage (Ryan Patrick, Carson Moniz). Auggie Moore duplicated the feat from the opposite circle a minute and a half later off a quick set up from Eric Olson.

Down 4-1, the Knights would re-gain their footing in the final six minutes of the period. Led by the Reed Robinson-Curtis Carlson-Lincoln Hatten line, the Knights offense bullied their way around the base of the Rebels zone to close the opening frame. Before the horn, Carlson set up Hatten in close, where the latter ripped a shot off the pads of Keane. The rebound found it’s way to a hard-charging Reed Robinson, who buried the rebound, bar down to cut the Rebels lead in half.

The Knights took the momentum into the middle period, a stretch of play in which they dominated chances on goal, but could not solve Ryan Keane. All totaled, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton out-shot Philadelphia 19-8 in the second, but could not add to their end of the scoreboard. Instead, Aaron Maguyon chased Tomeo on a power play shot that found its way through traffic just 6:22 into the second (Jensen Zerban, Dimurro).

Christian Stoever was welcomed rudely to the contest at 14:53 when Chase Hamstad buried the Rebels sixth goal off helpers from Dimurro and Jimmy Glynn.

Trailing by four to start the third, the Knights, to their credit, did not roll over. They were able to add ten more shots on goal, while holding the Rebels in check for over 19 minutes of the period. Curtis Carlson would again trim the deficit to three after the Knights captain beat Keane (42 saves) following Paul Cimilluca’s mad dash to the net, assisted secondarily by Reed Robinson.

The Rebels wouldn’t let the game go quietly however, as in the final seconds of play, Alex Frye cycled the puck to Luke Radetic, who found Carson Moniz crashing on the back door for the Rebels third power play goal of the game.

The 7-3 final was more lopsided than the balance of play, but the loss still counts as the Knights third-straight defeat. They will look to bounce back tonight at home against the Rebels once more with puck drop at 7:30 pm EST. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and follow along on Twitter and Instagram at @wbsknights.