Sunday afternoon saw the Knights host the Vermont Lumberjacks for the teams’ second head-to-head of the season. Coming off a frustrating loss in which the Knights out-chanced their opposition, they looked to bounce back in the weekend finale.
The offense was given an early jump-start when Jake Fuss turned and fired a puck past Lumberjacks starter Chris Stangarone just two minutes into the first period. Austin Weber, centering Fuss and Anthony Starzi on the afternoon, was credited with the primary helper with Starzi collecting the second.
The Knights would strike again at 8:52, when Fuss kept the lid on the zone, tapped a puck to Weber who found an open Anthony Starzi in front of Stangarone. Starzi buried his 20th tally of the season to move the Knights up by two.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton controlled much of the rest of the period, as they out-shot the Lumberjacks 18-7 in the opening 20 minutes, on their way to one of their best starts of the season.
The second period saw the script flipped. As has been the case in the past this season, the middle frame saw the Knights shorthanded often, resulting in an opening 10 minutes dominated by Vermont. The Lumberjacks buried three goals in the first 8:38 to take the lead.
Patrick Manning nabbed the first when he threw a bouncing puck on net from a sharp angle before it was pushed past Knights starter Thomas Walker (Wade Weeden). The second was scored by Kyle McDonald on the power play off helpers from Andrew Barber and Conor Leonard. On the third, set up by Kyle McDonald, Andrew Bechard fired a cross-ice feed that squeezed through Walker in the crease to Logan Discanio on the back door for the tap-in score.
The Knights regrouped in the second half of the period, pushing back on the attack when playing at even strength, but at the horn, they went to the dressing room down by one. Vermont out-shot the Knights 21-10 in the period.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton quickly righted the ship out of the gate in the third. Just 3:07 in, Nate Chuckran buried a goal shortside off helpers from Alex Morawski and William Case to tie the game at three. Chuckran was the first man on to start a change near the 5:00 mark, where his shot-denied by a spectacular stick save from Stangarone-rebounded to Tyler Wantungwa, who ripped it home for his first goal in a Knights sweater.
Up 5-4, the Knights found what would turn out to be more than key insurance when William Case picked up his first Knights goal on a dart through a screen at 9:41. Jake Fuss and Anthony Starzi were credited with the assists on the score that came during 4-on-4 play.
It appeared the Knights would have the perfect set up to put the game away when the Lumberjacks took a penalty past the halfway point of the third. While on the power play, Wade Weeden’s exit pass gave Vermont a 2-on-1, shorthanded breakaway. Andrew Bechard faked the pass before ripping a shot top-shelf, over the glove of Walker to bring the Lumberjacks within one.
The score would hold until the final minute of play. Just before Vermont pulled Stangarone, the Knights committed a slashing penalty. The infraction put them down two men after the Lumberjacks successfully emptied the net. The Knights penalty kill didn’t blink as they were quick to find pucks and clear the zone. With under 30 seconds to remaining, Case flipped a puck to Fuss, who found Starzi streaking through center ice. The speedy forward skated the puck to the twine to put the game on ice, 6-4.
With the win, the Knights snap a four-game skid and improve to 11-19 on the season. Their final games before the holiday break will come on the road next weekend against the New Hampshire Avalanche on Sunday, December 17th at 5:20 pm EST and the New England Wolves and Monday, December 18th at 12:10 pm EST. Both games will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @WBSKnightsEHL on Twitter and visit www.wbsknights.com and all Knights social media for news and updates!