Paul Maust, a member of the Knights inaugural NAHL roster, and two-year veteran of the organization’s junior hockey program has committed to Mercyhurst University.
In 119 career games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the NAHL, Maust recorded 31 goals and 47 assists. He was named to the NAHL’s All-Rookie team in 2015-16 before representing the Knights and the East Division in the Top Prospects Tournament in 2016-17. The Butler, Pennsylvania native has spent the 2017-18 season in the USHL playing for the Green Bay Gamblers.
Maust will be heading to a Mercyhurst program that has a proud history playing in the Atlantic Hockey Conference at the NCAA DI level. Since their first DI season at the turn of the century, the Lakers, behind bench boss Rich Gotkin, own a .535 winning percentage and have placed in the NCAA Finals on three separate occasions. Their alumni dot professional hockey rosters across North America and Europe.
In the 17 prior seasons they’ve played at the DI level in either the MAAC (2000-2003) or Atlantic Hockey (2003-present) Mercyhurst has won a regular season conference title as well times as a postseason conference championship three times apiece.
“After coaching Paul for two years, I am very happy to see he will have an opportunity play at the next level,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He’s a tough, versatile hockey player who plays bigger than his size. He plays with the edge needed at the DI level. He was an impact player for us in his time with our program. I look forward to cheering for him throughout his career at Mercyhurst University.”
The Knights would like to congratulate Paul on his well-deserved commitment and wish him the best of luck moving on in his hockey career!
Part one of two looks at the veterans coming back to Knights training camp
In their second year in the NAHL, the Knights took significant steps forward toward establishing themselves in one of the best junior leagues in the United States. Moving ahead to year three, Knights head coach Tom Kowal is making no bones about his program’s end goal for the upcoming season.
“We’re in our third year now,” he said. “Our goal isn’t just to make the playoffs. Our goal isn’t to get through round one or round two of the playoffs. Our goal is to win a Robertson Cup. Anything short of that, we’re not envisioning it right now.”
To make a run at a title at any level of any sport, experience and leadership are necessary. Bolstering the Knights chances is a strong nucleus of returning veterans.
“They’re the ones that set the tone, they set the bench mark; it’s their job right now,” Kowal said. “I told them veterans have to be veterans. They’re not rookies any more. They’re the ones that have to lead the charge. I’m pretty happy with the way they look right now.”
Returning to training camp are forwards Matt Kidney, Mike Gelatt, Curtis Carlson, Mike Morrissey, Reed Robinson, Mike Gelatt, Andrew Jackson and Adrian Danchenko.
“I think there’s a lot of speed up front,” said assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “We have a strong, returning group of forwards there.”
Matt Kidney was the Knights first round draft pick in 2016 and lived up to high expectations. The righty forward led the team in points, with 20 goals and 24 assists in 45 games.
“I think it’s the same as last year but I have more experience now,” said Kidney of his role this year at main camp. “I just need to get in touch with younger guys and be a positive influence in our locker room.”
Fellow Middletown, NJ native Mike Gelatt spent many games on a line with Kidney, and looks to build off a solid season in which he tallied 12 goals and 25 helpers in 49 games.
Curtis Carlson was one of the Knights strongest performers down the stretch of the 2016-17 season. He wowed at Knights Main Camp, flashing his trademark speed on his way to generating a high volume of offensive chances. As a veteran with experience in the NAHL dating back to the 2015-16 season, Carlson is in line to be an even bigger contributor this season.
“I hope to play more of a leadership role in the locker room,” Carlson said. “That being said, I don’t need a letter on my chest, just more of a guy to look up to, and if someone has problems they can come to me. I’m looking for guys on my team, for guys that are particularly good in the locker room. That’s the first part, you want good character. Then of course you want skilled guys, but guys that can play a role. You never know where you’re going to end up in the lineup. One night you can be on the first line, the next night you can be on the fourth. You just need to be consistent in your role.”
Carlson is one of the veterans buying into the potential he’s seen from the group competing for to make the roster.
“I want us to go to the Robbie this year,” he said. “Of course, that’s every team’s goal, but I’m a firm believer in that it starts in the first game of the year. You have to set the tempo there and then take it one game at a time. If you’re doing that, you’re doing it right and playing consistently, you’re going to make your way up there.”
The gritty Mike Morrissey is among the Knights organization’s most-tenured players and, like Carlson, stood out at main camp as one of its leaders. Last year he regularly drew opponents’ most-skilled forwards, some that are now playing division one hockey. His role moving in his second year at the NAHL is expected to grow.
Reed Robinson played his most productive hockey down the stretch of the 2016-17 season, scoring four goals and seven assists in his final 13 games. The gifted power forward has a knack for penalty-killing, and with his speed, was a consistent source of shorthanded scoring chances.
“I think we’re really fast, there’s a lot of work ethic out there,” said Robinson after main camp. “I think the biggest thing is going to be consistency. If we’re consistent we have the ability to be a really good team. You definitely have to take on a little bit of a leadership role. There’s a lot of new guys so you have to get them to loosen up, to play their games.”
Rounding out the returners to training camp are Andrew Jackson and Adrian Danchenko. The duo combined to play 94 games last season. The pair have size and speed that can’t be coached and showed versatility in filling multiple roles throughout the lineup over their past two years in the NAHL.
Familiar faces returning on the blue line are veterans Markuss Komuls, Paul Cimilluca and Joey Verkerke.
Komuls is a solid puck-mover who made a strong transition from tier-III to tier-II with the Knights last season. The Latvian’s ability to skate the puck and dictate possession in the offensive zone placed him second in scoring among Knights defenders last year.
A second-round pick in last year’s NAHL entry draft, Paul Cimilluca will look to take the next step this season. The right-handed defenseman developed a solid two-way game, eating a lot of minutes in his first junior season. He brings both size and strength with his game and showed off a powerful shot in camp.
“I’ve just been working out, trying to get stronger in the gym,” he said of his offseason goals. “On the ice, I’ve been working on my skating, trying to get faster and quicker, and just working on handling the puck better so I can make more plays.”
Now a seasoned junior hockey player, Cimilluca is eager to share lessons he’s learned.
“My advice to the guys here has been to just to go out and play your game, do what you do best, don’t try and do something you’re not used to doing,” he said. “If you’re a goal-scorer, go out and put a few in the net, if you’re a grinder, go out and make a few plays and do what comes naturally to you and what you’re comfortable with. It’s a trial for everyone, we’re all trying to make this team.”
Joey Verkerke joined the Knights roster after the start of the season last year and represented himself well in his junior hockey action. The Michigan-native had a busy offseason, playing in a summer league with names like Detroit Red Wings star Dylan Larkin. The agile defenseman will look to complement a Knights blue line that’s been bolstered by bigger bodies this offseason.
Two Knights veterans are currently pushing for USHL spots after being selected in this year’s USHL Entry Draft. Should either be released from their USHL teams, the Knights retain their rights and thus can add them back to their NAHL roster.
Paul Maust has been a mainstay in the Knights NAHL lineup for the past two years. Even after joining the team following the first month of last season, Maust still finished second on the roster with 43 points. He was selected 75th overall by the Green Bay Gamblers in the 2017 USHL Entry Draft. At Knights main camp, he helped introduce rookies to grind of playing against junior hockey players.
“As an older guy, you just have to keep the locker room loose, make sure they’re not too nervous-just go out there and have some fun,” Maust emphasized. “I mean the biggest thing for me is don’t get outside your game, do what you’re good at. I think I saw a group that’s going to be able to go on some streaks and sweep consecutive opponents.”
Dorian Dawson has spent the past two seasons ascending to the top spot on the Knights blue line. The Canadian import was deployed in all situations last season, using his size and speed to overwhelm opponents up and down the ice. He was rewarded for his 9-25-34 line and steady defense by being taken in the 7th round of the draft by the Fargo Force.
The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.
With eyes ahead, team enjoys productive, competitive opening to camp
The Knights took the Pennsylvania heat to the ice Wednesday afternoon as they forge ahead to write their next chapter in the NAHL. The talent that took the ice on Wednesday mixed speed and grit with NAHL tenure and fresh legs.
“It’s very evident that our assistant coach Andrew Whiteside and head scout Justin Schreiber, two guys who head our scouting program and our recruiting, along with all the others that have helped us, that they’ve really done a great job this past year,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “They pounded the pavement. We have eight teams with a lot of great talent and that’s a good problem to have.”
Over the course of the past year, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staff has been scouring the hockey world for talent to bring to the 2017-18 season and beyond. Main Camp not only brings together the subjects of their search, but tests their scouting through competition.
“It is big week for us,” said Knights head scout Justin Schreiber. “Andrew Whiteside and I spent a ton of time on the road, and this week is kind of the culmination of everything. It all comes together-draft picks, tenders, and returners. This week is big. That being said, the games today were really high-paced. I’m pretty impressed with the level of play. I’m excited to see what carries over to day two.”
Formed from a massive pool of Knights veterans, tenders, draft picks, and invitees, eight teams played four games this afternoon. They’ll play eight more games tomorrow before the camp roster is trimmed into two all-star teams. Those teams will fill out the remaining available spots on the Knights roster.
“We want guys who play with grit, said Schreiber.” It’s important for us to find forwards that mix that skill and grit together and defenseman that are both gritty and mean-guys that have a little gravel in their gut. We want guys who bring the lunch pail and their boots to work every day and at the end of the day, we want our team to be really hard to play against. I think that showed itself here on day one.”
Returning veterans wasted little time in making an impression. As last season’s leading scorer, it only was only fitting that Matt Kidney would punctuate his team’s game one victory by burying a shot top shelf from just inside the blue line. Mike Gelatt rattled the boards down low, Paul Cimilluca potted a goal off a 2-on-1 rush, Mike Morrissey consistently inhabited his opponent’s crease, Curtis Carlson blazed through back-checkers to create chances, while Paul Maust and Reed Robinson took turns putting pucks in the twine. When they weren’t on the ice, the same players were engaged off of it, attentively following each game, eagerly surveying each potential new team mate.
“They’re the ones that get us going,” said Kowal. “They set the bench mark. It’s their job right now. I told them, that veterans have to be veterans. They’re not rookies anymore. Those are the guys that have to lead the charge. If we don’t have good leaders, we’re not going to have a good hockey team. I’ve really been pretty hard on my veterans this past summer to make sure they’ve been working out, to make sure they’re ready. So far I’m pretty happy with the way they are looking right now. Even walking in, they look bigger. They’re buying into the organization’s standard right now. Just making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore. We’re going into our third season-round one isn’t good enough. We need a round two-we need a round trip to have a successful season.”
While the veterans set an early tone, newer players made their impacts known. Tendered defenseman Blake Kryska notched two goals in his first game. Tom Farrell, a big blue-liner who, like Kryska, spent a few games with the Knights last season, tallied a goal in his first game as well. Goalie Dave Tomeo, once a Knights opponent, was calm and steady in between the pipes.
Draft pick Lincoln Hatten showed off an impressive combo of size and speed, creating a few odd-man advantages by streaking past the last defender. First round pick Gabe Temple displayed impressive stick handling as he appeared unrelenting in attacking the offensive zone. Christian Stoever, the lone goalie selected by the Knights in this year’s draft, impressed with several acrobatic saves.
All newcomers and veterans will get another chance tomorrow to make an impression as the Knights take further stock of their new roster. For the players that in camp only by invitation, Kowal offered encouragement.
“They should just be who they are,” said Kowal, “We can only draft and tender so many guys. There’s a lot of great hockey players out there. It seems like every year-and I’ve been doing this for 15 years-a kid that we didn’t draft, didn’t tender, a kid who hasn’t played a game for me in his life makes the team. It’s just that blue-chipper that no one knows who slips through the cracks, that comes out here and has a really good weekend, impresses our staff, and ends up being a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knight.”
Game one begins at 8:30 am as Navy takes on Purple.
With a combined 231 games played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the past two years, Dorian Dawson and Paul Maust have been key contributors to the Knights arrival to tier-II hockey. After being selected in phase II of the USHL draft Tuesday, both players will have the opportunity to take their talents to tier-I next season.
In 2016-17 both Maust and Dawson were leading members in the Knights 65-point season and the organization’s second-straight playoff appearance.
Maust, selected yesterday by the Green Bay Gamblers with the 75th overall pick, led the Knights with 28 assists this season. For the second straight year he registered 15 goals, picking up 43 points in 54 games, good for second-most on the team.
“Paul Maust is a hockey player,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He’s not the biggest skater out there, but he plays a big game. He loves mixing it up. He’s a smart player up and down the ice and his skill allows him to be a great threat in the offensive zone. His play sets a tone for his teammates.”
On the blue line, Dorian Dawson led all Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defensemen in scoring, tallying nine goals and 25 assists in 48 games. The Brown University commitment spent his time on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s top pair, power play, penalty kill and consistently took shifts late in games.
“Dorian’s a guy that is still scratching the surface,” said Kowal. “He continues to improve and that’s been a big factor for us. With the defensemen that moved on after 2015-16, we asked him to take a big step up this past season and he did. He doubled his points and showed he could play in any situation for us.”
Both Maust and Dawson found themselves highlighted for the efforts throughout 2016-17. Dawson earned the distinction of being named the NAHL’s defenseman of the month this past January, while Maust was named second star and twice given honorable mention in the East Division’s Star of the Week award.
At the Knights end of season awards dinner, Maust was named recipient of the Lancelot Award, an accolade given to the player that best represents the character and values of the Knights both on and off the ice. Both players represented the East Division at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February.
“It’s a great feeling seeing two guys like Paul and Dorian rewarded for all their hard work,” said Kowal. “They’ve been big parts of our team on and off the ice over the past two seasons. They both have the work ethic to continue their success at higher levels of hockey, and we’re happy to have been a part of their development. We’ll be rooting hard for them every step of the way.”
Paul Maust, Matt Kidney, Vince Marino and Dorian Dawson have been named to the NAHL’s annual Prospects Tournament.
Four Knights will be making the trip to Plymouth, Michigan to represent the team and their division in the NAHL’s annual Top Prospect Tournament. The event will take place February 27th and 28th at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth in front of NCAA and NHL scouts.
As the current occupants of fourth place in the east, the Knights had three players selected to the all-division team. The addition of Vince Marino as a fourth player was via the NAHL Selects Roster.
Dorian Dawson, the team’s current assist leader and co-leader in points will be one of the east’s blue liners. Dawson was just named the NAHL’s defenseman of the month for January after scoring one goal and 10 assists, with a +7 mark in nine games played. On the year, the Ontario native marks 4th amongst all NAHL defensemen with 30 points (seven goals and 23 assists).
Joining Dawson is the other co-leader in points on roster, Paul Maust. Maust, after returning to the Knights in mid-September has been a tone-setter in his second year with the NAHL team. In 39 games played, the Butler, PA native has scored 12 goals and 18 assists. In that time he’s scored three game-winning goals, two power play goals and holds a +12 mark. His most impressive performance was on December 30th when he scored four goals and an assist against Kenai River.
Matt Kidney rounds out the Knights heading to Michigan. After being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft, Kidney lit up the league, scoring 9-12-21 in 19 games played. In that stretch he was awarded the East Division Star of the Week the week of October 24th, before being named the League’s Forward of the Month for October. Since returning to the Knights at the beginning of 2017, he’s recorded four goals and five assists in 10 games played.
UPDATE:Vince Marino has been added to the NAHL Selects team. The Selects will be coached by Karlis Zirnis of the Shreveport Mudbugs and Craig Doremus of the New Jersey Titans. For his part, Marino has compiled six goals and nine assists through 29 games in the 2016-2017 NAHL season. After missing some time with injury, the ’98 birth year has been a versatile piece and big-bodied forward for the Knights in his first NAHL season.
“We’re excited for Dorian, Paul, Matt getting an opportunity to perform on a stage in front of scouts from college and the NHL,” said head coach Tom Kowal. “Of course we are also excited that Vince Marino will be joining the tournament with the NAHL Selects team. As I’ve said before, the hard work each of these players has placed into their career development is evident and now being rewarded. This is their chance to take advantage of the spotlight that’s being turned their way. That’s what we want for all of our players, and we’re thrilled when we can work with them to get these valuable opportunities.”
For the official rosters of each team in the upcoming tournament click here.