Tag Archives: New Jersey Titans

Fuss Wins It In Overtime

Knights Within a Point of Playoffs With Nine Games Left

Jake Fuss scored an unassisted goal 3:06 into overtime to help the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights beat the New Jersey Titans, 2-1 Tuesday night. The win ends the 12 game season series with New Jersey at an even 6-6 mark.

Wilkes-Barre earned their 21st win of the season. With nine games left in the regular season, they trail the fourth place Northeast Generals by one point. Both clubs have nine to play, including three against one another later in the month.

Despite taking three penalties in the first period, including two at the same time to give a five-on-three to New Jersey, it would be the Knights who would capitalize off special teams in the opening frame. With Anthony Mastromonica sent to the box for slashing, the Knights went on the kill. Defenseman Evan Orr cashed in with a shorthanded goal for the rookie’s fifth tally this season.

After a blocked shot in the defensive zone, Jake Fuss sprinted ahead on a breakaway. With Orr trailing, the eventual overtime hero would drop it off for Orr to wrist one through Titans goalie Brandon Perrone to get the 1-0 lead.

New Jersey was later awarded the two man advantage in the first, but failed to capitalize. They were also outshot in the opening period, 11-10. Overall, the Titans did outshoot the Knights, 38-31, but Zach Stejskal remained a force in goal by making 37 stops for his 20th win of the year. Stejskal is now tied with Grant Valentine for most wins in NAHL Knights history. Valentine won 20 for the club in the 2016-17 campaign.

The Titans would find their resolve in the second period when they too would benefit from a defenseman scoring. Danny Dimon notched his first NAHL goal from atop the blue line with a slap shot that got through Stejskal at the 7:37 mark of the middle frame. The second period featured the most potential for New Jersey, as they fired 18 shots on the Wilkes-Barre goal. The Titans would receive a late period power play to carry over to the third period, but failed to generate.

With no additional scoring in the third, this contest headed to overtime. In the three-on-three, a simple faceoff would make the difference. With less than two minutes until a shootout would be needed, Jake Fuss stepped into the dot for an offensive zone draw. Originally slotted to go against Ryan Naumovski, the officials deemed a faceoff violation would be charged to New Jersey, forcing Jake LaRusso to take the draw. Fuss won it ahead of LaRusso and quickly parked in front of the net where he stuffed home the game winner on the right side of the cage. Fuss was credited for his 10th goal of the season and first overtime winner.

The Knights return home for practice, but then head north for the conclusion of their season-long eight game road trip Friday when they begin a pair of games with the Jamestown Rebels.

Quick Hits: NAHL Game 51 Preview

Knights look to bounce back in game six of road trip

Tuesday, March 12th-Middletown Ice World @ 7pm

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (20-26-4, 44pts.)
at
New Jersey Titans (26-24-1, 53pts.)

What’s the Story?
The Titans and Knights will play their third game in the last five days, with each team looking to bounce back from being swept on the weekend. Wilkes-Barre came up short against the Johnstown Tomahawks in two meetings at 1st Summit Arena, while New Jersey got a punch in the gut being swept in Jamestown against the Rebels, scoring once in each game and being outscored 11-2 on the weekend.

Despite the Titans struggles for much of the last two months, the club still sits third in the east and continue to inch closer to clinching a playoff spot. With nine games left, their magic number is 11 to clinch a spot in the postseason.

Urban
Knights goalie Zach Stejskal was pulled in the first game of the weekend against the Tomahawks, as Head Coach and General Manager Tom Kowal decided to go with rookie Jacob Urban for the third period. The PA native stopped all 10 shots he faced and has gone 36-for-36 in his four periods of work with the grey and blue.

Stejskal would return to the crease Saturday and present a stellar body of work with 46 saves, but the Knights do have a positive to look at with Urban. The club looks to have a solid backup option for Stejskal if the Minnesota-Duluth commit needs some rest in the final stretch.

Garden State Opponent
Tuesday marks the 12th and final meeting of the year against the Titans. With a win, the Knights can earn a season split with last year’s playoff foes. The Titans lead the series 6-5, but the last meeting in New Jersey went the way of the Knights. On February 6th, A 2-1 decision off a Jordan Strand game-winning-goal made the difference. The clubs met later in the month at Revolution Ice Centre where the Knights opened up a 3-0 lead before eventually winning the tilt, 5-3.

For What It’s Worth
Since the calendar flipped to 2019, the Knights have gone 9-7-3 over 19 games. The Titans have posted an 8-9-1 record in the same stretch.

New Jersey gives up the 19th most goals in the NAHL at 169. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is right in the middle ranking 12th with 144.

Titans leading scorer Ryan Naumovski is two points shy of 100 for his NAHL career.

With the NAHL Knights, Adrian Danchenko has 72 career points after scoring in Saturday’s game against Johnstown. The winger is two shy of tying Paul Maust for 4th in all-time Knights scoring. He is also five points from Kurtis Karlson, who sits 2nd behind only Matthew Kidney (102) in career points while wearing a Knights sweater.

Quick Hits: NAHL Game 42 Preview

Morning action before nine day break.

Wednesday, February 6th- Middletown Ice World Arena at 11am

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (14-23-4, 32pts.)
at
New Jersey Titans (22-19, 44pts.)

Last Weekend
Sacha Guillemain scored in overtime to secure a 4-3 win against the Northeast Generals, but the home team avenged themselves in the second game, taking a 5-2 final over Wilkes-Barre.

New Jersey also split the weekend, winning 4-2 against Maryland before losing 4-3 Saturday night after allowing the Black Bears to tally three goals in the opening period.

Playoff Picture
It will remain a topic of conversation the rest of the way. The Knights enter Tuesday six points back of a playoff spot. The club does benefit from having games in hand on both teams close to them in points, with Maryland having played two more and Northeast one more game. That number will increase on the Black Bears, as they meet Johnstown for a three game series this weekend, while both Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Northeast remain idle.

The Knights will then visit Odenton, MD for a pair of contests Feb 15-16. At which point, The Black Bears will have played four more games than the Knights.

With 44 points, the Titans remain 11 ahead of teams outside playoff positioning in the NAHL’s East Division. One of the four available postseason  spots in the east will belong to the Johnstown Tomahawks, who clinched a berth last week.

Two Teams. Nine Top Prospects
On Friday, the NAHL announced its rosters for the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, taking place in Attleboro, MA later this month. With Sacha Guillemain, Shay Donovan, Gabe Temple, and Jeffrey Bertrand getting the call for the grey and blue, their Garden State rivals will be sending five names to the tournament.

Defensemen Spencer Stanley and Brody Medeiros will represent Team East, along with forward Gavin Gulash. Joining Bertrand and Temple on the Selects will be the top duo of point producers for New Jersey: Ryan Naumovski and Kyle Jeffers. The tag team has combined for 81 points this season with each playing in all 41 games thus far for the Titans.

For What It’s Worth
This will be the 10th meeting of the year between the two clubs. New Jersey leads the season series, 6-3, including wins in the last three games. Following Wednesday, the Knights will have played both the Titans and Jamestown Rebels 10 times on the year. They will have two games remaining with each.

Knights forward Sacha Guillemain leads the season series in points against New Jersey, having earned eight with two standing as goals. Jacob Badal and Jake Fuss are tied for the team lead in goals against the Titans with four.

Fuss enters Wednesday with the longest active point streak in the NAHL, having scored five goals and a pair of helpers in the last five tilts.

Since the start of 2019, New Jersey has surrendered the first goal in eight of nine contests. They are 10-17 when falling behind first this season and 5-13 when trailing after the first period.

As Playoffs Roll Forward, Stoever Stays Steady

Written by Intern Nick Marotta 

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

Christian Stoever put on yet another memorable performance yesterday as he led the Knights to a 4-1 victory in the opening game of their best-of-five series against the Philadelphia Rebels.  Stoever held the Rebels down for two periods before only letting in one goal in the third. This performance comes off the back of 5-2 and 1-0 victories over the New Jersey Titans in the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. In each of the games, the Knights would have been eliminated with a loss.

“I knew it was do or die, so I had to step up for the team.” Stoever said.

Stoever also managed a 25-save game in last night’s opener. The Rebels, who lead the NAHL’s eastern division in multiple offensive statistics, as well as home winning percentage, just couldn’t get the puck in the net against number 31.  Stoever has had a knack for stepping up in clutch moments in both the regular season and this postseason. The series against New Jersey was no different for the Knights’ goalie, as he racked up 129 saves in the last three games.

“During my whole junior career I’ve always been able to do really well under pressure, and I knew our season was on the line [against New Jersey] so I just did what I had to do.”

The Knights defense was also quite impressive in game one of their series against Philadelphia.  Defensemen Joseph Verkerke and Thomas Farrell contributed a point each in the victory on Thursday.  Stoever had high praise for his defensemen as well.

“On defense everyone has been great on and off the ice,” he said. “They’re great supporters out of the game and they move the puck well in it.  They’re just best friends, which only helps chemistry.”

Stoever attributed the team’s win to the physicality the team displayed against the Rebels.  

“Philadelphia is a physical team, so if we’re able to match that, I think we can slow them down,” he said. The goalie also mentioned that the team did well putting bodies in front of the goal.

“It seems to be the most reliable way we score on them.”

Despite the Stoever and the Knights being able to take game on in Philadelphia, the team as a whole has struggled on the road versus the Rebels. This was the first Knights victory against their top-seeded rivals, away from the Revolution Ice Centre in 2017-18. Stoever seemed undeterred by this, though, as he said that each game in this series would be treated as just that, another game.

“We just have to go out there and play them like it’s anybody else’s [rink.]” he remarked.

The Knights will look ahead to their second game against Philadelphia tonight, at 7:00  pm EDT. They will then head back home to the Revolution Ice Centre on Monday, April 30th and Thursday, May 3rd for games three and four. Home Ice has been much kinder to the Knights this season, as all four of their regular season wins against Philadelphia came at home.

 

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 4: Stoever Stuns Titans as Knights Force Game 5

Facing win-or-go-home circumstances, the Knights made a stand Saturday night. Christian Stoever summoned his finest performance of the year and Gabe Temple continued his tear through the Robertson Cup Playoffs on the way to a Knights 1-0 victory.

In game four, Stoever squared off against his game three counterpart, Matt Ladd. Ladd entered play with two victories in the series, looking to add a series-clinching third. He was strong in the pipes yet again, making 37 saves on the evening, but the lone shot that bested him proved to be costly.

The score came at the 12:59 marker of the first period. On the game’s first power play, Gabe Temple fired a puck on net. The rebound off of Ladd’s save kicked over to a crashing Jack Olmstead on the back door, who jarred the puck across to Curtis Carlson on the opposite post. Carlson’s shot was denied by Ladd as well before the rebound kicked back to Temple in the slot. Temple ripped home the game’s first and only goal, extending his goal streak to three-straight games.

For the remainder of play, the Knights and Titans exchanged hits, penalties, and grade-a saves. Things built to an especially chippy ending the final five minutes of play. Through a host of penalties, scrums, toe and glove saves by Stoever, the Knights fought off the Titans attempt to tie the game including a final 1:10 with the extra attacker on. When the dust settled, the Knights had evened the series at two games, forcing a game five this evening in New Jersey.

Puck drop for the winner-take-all affair will take place at 5:00 PM EDT. You can watch the game online at hockeytv.com, or follow along with Knights social media and www.nahl.com.

 

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bronte Reflects on First NAHL Season, Confidence Heading into Playoffs

One couldn’t ask for a much better 2017-18 season from Knights rookie forward Tyrone Bronte. Bronte’s regular season started off with a bang, helping him to reach 35 points, including two game-winning goals.  The Australian-born forward said that even he was not expecting himself to put up as many points as he did.

“It set a foundation and and expectation for me throughout the whole season,” he explained. “I wanted to keep up that pace. Unfortunately, there was a 15 or so game stretch where, as a team and personally, it just wasn’t going to plan.”

The Knights struggled through a stretch of games spanning from February into March. Bronte noted that this two-month period was tough on him especially.

“I didn’t score as much as I would’ve liked to, and it’s tough to get back into a mindset where you want to score goals when you haven’t been doing well.”

The team, as well as Bronte, were able to snap this cold streak midway into March.  The rookie attributed a lot of his personal growth during this period to his parents as well as his coaches.

“I talked to some of my old coaches as well as my parents and they helped me to get out of my own head.”

Bronte also mentioned that his conversations with Knights head coach Tom Kowal were crucial in helping him get back to his early-season form. 

“He was good at being understanding, but also being straight with me. He told me, ‘Look, you aren’t playing as well as you were at the start of the season, but you know you can play better.’”

Bronte said he and his teammates tried to have more fun with the game, and that after these changes, they started to play much better as a team.

“It was a season with a lot of ups and downs, but overall I can’t complain.”

Looking forward to the Knights playoff series against the New Jersey Titans, Bronte said that he and the team were familiar with the Titans style.

“We play every team in our division a lot, so all of the eastern division teams are going to know how to play one another,” he said. “It will come down to who wants it more.”

The Knights regular season record against the Titans was positive, standing at 7-3-2.  The last time the two teams met, the Knights were able to take two games in a three-game series, including an 8-1 home victory.  Bronte had two goals and two assists across the three games.

This time around, as often is the case in any hockey postseason, Bronte expects the focus to shift to goal tending. He has faith in the Knights goalies and defense.

“If we can keep the game to a low score against a transition team like the Titans, we feel confident in our ability to put goals on the board.” 

Bronte was also confident in the other members of the team going into the series opener against the Titans on Saturday.

“As long as we’re all trying 100% in practice and carrying that over into the first round of the playoffs, I think that we can achieve our goal.”