Tag Archives: Michael Morrissey

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!

Game 3: Knights Rally Falls Just Short

Game three in the Knights-Titans East Division Semi-Finals brought the competition to the Revolution Ice Centre with the series even at one. Friday’s contest saw the Titans surge out to an early lead.
After hemming the Knights in on a long shift early, the Titans fired a flurry of shots at Knights starter Christian Stoever. After he made saves on the initial Titans offerings, a rebound kicked out to Gavin Gulash on the short side. Gulash buried the puck for the game’s first goal at 2:56. Ryan Naumovski and Nick Boyagian tallied assists in the score. Andrew Husted added to the Titans lead after he deflected Chris Garbe’s shot past Stoever just three minutes later.
The Knights had no shortage of opportunities to respond. The team was stymied on all 12 of their first period shots, in addition to a few quality chances that missed the net of Ladd. In one instance, Ladd denied Jack Olmstead alone in close and then made a diving save to rob Matt Kidney of the would-be rebound goal.
The Titans would rally behind the efforts of the goaltender and their power play late in the period. With just six seconds remaining in their first man-advantage, Tate Singleton notched his first goal of the postseason after re-directing a Ryan Naumovski shot. Tyler Antonucci recorded the secondary assist on the tally, giving the Titans a commanding 3-0 lead with under five minutes remaining in the first.
The second period saw the game’s pace slow significantly as neither side found much success moving the puck. Turnovers, icings, and pucks put out of play dominated the early going, leaving little in terms of quality chances.
As had been the case for Wilkes/Barre-Scranton in game two, Gabe Temple was able to provide a spark. The Knights first-round draft pick scored his team’s first goal for the second-consecutive game, teed up by Jake Fuss and Tomas Koblizek on a rush down the ice at 12:01.
With the deficit trimmed to two, the Knights carried momentum into the third period. After beginning the frame on a carryover power play, the Knights quickly saw the advantage evaporate when they were penalized for hooking on a failed breakaway. Undeterred, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would a penalty 48 seconds later, pushing the game to 4-on-4 and an eventual Knights power play.
Shortly after the second power play’s expiration, Gabe Temple threw a puck to the slot where Jack Olmstead fired it to the netfront. Ladd and a host of bodies piled on the puck in the low slot, with the effort kicking it over to right post. There, lying prone on his back, Curtis Carlson shoveled the puck through Ladd to bring the Knights within a single score.
Wade Novak winded the comeback effort just over a minute and a half later.  The explosive skater tore up the ice on a 3-on-2 rush. As Stoever moved to mirror his effort, Novak buried a shot top-shelf over Stoever’s glove to re-establish a two-goal lead (Kyle Jeffers).
In what can be described as an all-world counter punch, Michael Morrissey swung momentum back in the opposite direction less than a minute later. As the Titans attempted a breakout, Morrissey, pressuring alone in the offensive  zone, pick-pocketed a Titans defenseman on the right circle before streaking in on goal. He ripped a shot past Ladd to narrow the score to 4-3.
Momentum on their side, the Knights re-doubled their efforts and managed to create another handful of quality chances as time ticked away in the third. Still, they struggled to break through against Ladd.
Their best chance came on a 2-on-1 with time dwindling, when Adrian Danchenko found Justin Engelkes with a cross-slot pass just after the pair gained the Titans zone. Engelkes lifted a heavy shot on goal, only to be denied by a sprawling Ladd.
Off the back of his efforts, the Titans fended off the last of the Knights comeback attempt, including 1:30 of facing an extra attacker, securing themselves a 2-1 series lead heading into game four.
Game four will be played tonight at the Revolution Ice Centre at 6:00 PM EDT. Admission is $5 at the door, and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow along on Knights social media and at NAHL.com!

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 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!

Knights Offense Explodes in a Friday Night of Firsts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Power Play and Goaltending Spur Knights to Victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fessenden Out-Duels Knights as Generals Take Series Opener

A three-game series between the East Division’s third and fourth placed teams kicked off Friday, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and the Northeast Generals met for their final series in the regular season.

Friday’s first period saw good chances for both sides. Starting goalies Christian Stoever and David Fessenden stood down each sides’ offerings in goal for much of the opening frame, as each attack searched for its stride.

Not long after the Generals killed the game’s first power play, their rested scorers recorded the game’s first tally. Off a failed exit pass from the Knights zone, the Generals hopped in to create a 3-on-2 entry. Colin found Colin as Bilek threaded a slick pass to McCabe, as the latter buried his third tally of the season for the 1-0 lead.

A second Knights power play was negated by steady work from the Generals killers and Fessenden’s steady play in net. At the end of 20:00, the hometown Generals held the early lead.

After a first period slightly carried by the Knights, thanks in part to two power plays, Northeast countered with a strong second period. It was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s turn to visit the box, taking three trips in the period. The first negated the Knights third power play, leading to an extended stretch of 4-on-4. The second infraction proved mostly costly. Just past the 14:00 marker, it was Bilek’s turn to be gifted a strong assist. Louis Boudon found Matt Wiesner, who fed his captain on the power play goal.

Down 2-0 entering the third, the Knights bounced back. After killing an early power play, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tilted the ice to open the first half of the frame. Their efforts, though met continually by strong play from Fessenden, finally paid off at 7:42. From the right wing corner in the offensive zone, Kidney fed Joey Verkerke at the top of the zone. The latter fired a puck at Fessenden, who was screened by Mike Morrissey, leaving a bouncing puck to find Kidney again, who flipped a nifty back-handed shot to get the Knights on the board.

The Knights control of play continued through much of the period, with the only breaks in action coming off masterful saves from Stoever-who stoned Bilek on a breakaway-and Fessenden, who robbed Jake Fuss on a one-timer from in close.

The period wound its way down to the final minutes with the Generals leading 2-1. After being out-shot 14-3 in the middle period, the Knights responded in kind, blasting the Generals with an 18-5 advantage. Still, Fessenden stood tall. With just under a minute to play, the Knights traded Stoever for an extra attacker. Less than 30 seconds later, Colin Bilek cleared a puck down the ice, with the back-handed effort finding the yawning Knights net.

The game would conclude with the Generals taking game one by a score of 3-1. Their victory brings them back within two points (58 to 56) of the Knights in third place in the East. The pair will meet again tomorrow night at 5:00 PM EST. Tune in on hockeytv.com!