Tag Archives: Luke Robinson

NAHL Recap: Knights Fall 4-3 in Overtime to Open Showcase

The Knights touched down in Minnesota to meet the Topeka Pilots for game one of the NAHL’s annual Blaine Showcase. The contest kicked off with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton controlling the early tempo, outshooting Topeka 10-5 in the first 20 minutes of play. It would be the Pilots however that would strike first.

13 minutes into play, Zeke Zeier broke up a Knights pass in his own zone, speeding up the ice and onto the attack. In the left corner of the Knights zone, Zeier turned the puck back up ice to teammate Dallas Tulik. In similar fashion to a goal scored against the Knights last week, Tulik juggled a puck in his skates and onto his stick, avoiding Knights pressure all the while. Once cleanly in space, he fired a shot past Knights starter Zach Stejskal to build a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later, number four for the Knights notched goal number one of his junior career. Off a faceoff, Gabe Temple and Sacha Guillemain went to work on the side boards. Guillemain found the puck off of Temple’s poke check, and fired it across the ice to the wide open Davis Pennington. Pennington roofed the puck under the bar, popping Sam Metcalf’s bottle up into the air to knot the game at one.

In the second period, the Knights would capitalize on a carry over penalty to grab their first lead of the game. Behind the net, Jake Fuss would win the puck off the wall to a fast-moving Sacha Guillemain. The latter popped out on the left post, and flipped the puck across the slot to a crashing Gabe Temple. Temple shoveled the puck by Metcalf for his first goal of the season and the Knights 2-1 lead.

Through an evenly played middle period, Metcalf and Stejskal hunkered down to keep the score close. The third period would change the narrative.

The Pilots would surge ahead in the middle of the frame. At 9:09, Tulik would strike for his second goal of the afternoon set up by Quinn Green. A few minutes later, Zeke Teier would notch his second point of the day and first tally of the season when he was set up by Joel Brandinger and goalie Sam Metcalf.

The Knights wouldn’t trail for long. On another power play, Luke Robinson found Sacha Guillemain, who sent a pass to Temple for the game-tying goal. Both forwards would finish with three points on the day.

The score would remained locked into three-on-three overtime. After a brief exchange that ate the first few minutes, Topeka would find the game-winner. Brenden found Brendan, as Rons fed Schultz for the game-winning goal past Stejskal.

The Knights earned their first point but will look for their first victory tomorrow when they take on the Brookings Blizzard at 1:30 PM central. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and follow along on Knights social media!

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 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.

 

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 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!

 

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 Salvage Point with OT Loss to Johnstown

Saturday marked game number 10 between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Johnstown Tomahawks in the 2017-18 season. Following Friday’s contest that saw the Tomahawks grind out a 2-1 win, both teams entered play having collected 10 points against the other.

Much like the prior contest, Saturday’s affair took on a decidedly slow pacing as both sides struggled to find much consistency on the attack. In net again for the Tomahawks was Kade Phipps, countered by Christian Stoever for the Knights.

After a quiet start, the Knights offense awoke in the last quarter of the opening frame. On a power play that saw the Knights spend most of their 2:00 in the attacking end, Curtis Carlson capped off the man-advantage with a rocket from the top of the zone that found its way through Mike Gelatt and past Kade Phipps for the game’s first goal. Mike Morrissey and Tom Farrell picked up helpers on the tally at 14:21.

Exactly two minutes later, the Tomahawks responded by digging a puck from out of the corner in the Knights end and walking it down the goal line. On two prior shifts in the offensive zone, the Tomahawks had done the same, only to be denied the first time by an opportune poke check from Luke Robinson, and a pair of sprawling saves from Stoever on the second. On the third such occasion, Joe Kile made sure to bury the puck from point blank range, ripping it through the fiver to knot the score at one (Carson Brière). The period would end, gridlocked in a 1-1 tie.

Gridlock would be an apt way to describe the second and third periods. In the middle stanza, both teams took turns clogging up the center of the ice, while turning pucks over in the neutral zone. The result was few quality chances on net, while both goalies handled the shots that got to the net with relative ease.

After the Knights strong start to the power play in the first, the unit cooled off for their remaining four chances between the second and third. All told, the Tomahawks killed four of five opportunities for the Knights power play, while also being blanked on two of their own.

With the third came little change other than seeing an uptick in penalty minutes. Both teams had struggles standing up on the puck in the attacking end, resulting in scoreless stretch that ran a grand total of 46:02 from the end of the first to the game’s conclusion.

Just shy of the halfway point in 3-on-3 overtime, Carson Brière found himself in alone on an odd-man rush set up by Joe Kile and Karim DelPonte. The ’99 flipped the puck up and over the shoulder of Christian Stoever (41 saves in the loss) for the win, earning Johnstown a weekend sweep of the Knights.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to bounce back next week, starting with a home game against the New Jersey Titans at 2:30 pm EST. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Tune into Knights social media and visit www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!