Tag Archives: Recap

NAHL: Phipps, Penalties, Slow Knights in Series Split

The Knights and Tomahawks met again Saturday night for the second round of a two-game bout. The Knights went looking for a series sweep, following their 2-1 victory in game one. On Saturday, there were faced once again with yet another slugfest in Johnstown.

With a rematch of both of Friday’s goalies setting the table, the Knights and Tomahawks went to work with yet another defensive first period. Each team was held to single digit shots as David Tomeo and Kade Phipps each answered every test sent their way en route to a scoreless, opening 20 minutes.

Each side also continued the trend of steady penalty kill, as the Tomahawks did away with their lone infraction in the first, wile the Knights erased two.

The second frame saw more of the same. Both sides bogged themselves down with multiple penalties, with neither cracking the scoreboard whilst on the advantage.

It wasn’t until the game’s 33rd minute in which the scoring drought ended. Set up on a quick Johnstown entry, Joe Kile pulled up on the right half wall and threaded a perfect pass to Ben Schmidling in the middle of the slot. The latter hammered home the Tomahawks first tally at 13:05, his seventh of the season.

Try as they might to respond, the Knights could not stay out of the box long enough to establish an offensive rhythm. Though their penalty kill withstood an impressive power play (13/13 on the weekend), Johnstown was able to grind down key attackers by forcing them to chase in their own end while shorthanded.

During a 4-on-4 in the final minute of the period, the Knights took a delayed penalty. Before they could touch up on the puck, Tomahawks forward Donovan Ott took advantage of the scenario when he grabbed the puck and hopped over the right side of the Knights blue line. From there he fired a shot off a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defender before collecting his own rebound and firing it past Tomeo for the 2-0 lead.

That score would hold for the remainder of the game, as the Knights continued their march in the final stanza. Three more penalties added up to a limited forecheck in the third period, capped off by Phipps’ steady play in net. Unable to pull their goaltender until just past the 18:00 mark, the Knights saw time run out on any comeback effort.

With the loss, the Knights head into their final game before the holiday break firmly entrenched in second place in the NAHL’s East Division. They’ll have the opportunity to hop back into first when they play host to the New Jersey Titans on Wednesday, December 13th at 2:30 pm. The game will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!

EHL Knights finish Weekend Sweep

Knights complete bounce back weekend with sweep

Photo Credit: Jessica Kovalcin

Following their wild 6-5 victory Saturday night, the Knights were looking for win number two on the weekend to bring themselves back to .500 in the second weekend of the season.

Much like their first game against Apple Core, the Knights erupted out of the gates.

Jake Fuss again kicked off the scoring, picking up his league-leading sixth tally of the young season on a power play with assists from Tyler Nielsen and Austin Weber at 4:54.

Alex Morawski followed suit three and a half minutes later, scoring another power play goal, his second in as many days to build the Knights a 2-0 lead (Cody Rumsey).

Tyler Nielsen would cap a strong first half of the period with a rocket from the slot, fed from Fuss down low and Weber on the secondary at 9:58.

The Knights defense would limit chances on goalie Jared Stahel for the majority of the period, and then fought impressively through three late-period penalties to preserve the 3-0 lead.

To begin the second, the Knights had to be wary of an Apple Core team that used the middle frame the day before to erase most of a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton four-goal lead. Learning from that game, the Knights were aggressive on the forecheck, taking 15 shots on New York goaltender Kasper Urbaniak, not allowing themselves to be content with a multi-goal advantage.

Despite this aggressiveness, Apple Core did find ways to create pressure, piling up 16 shots in the period. Both Urbaniak and Stahel stood tall, as both teams were held scoreless in the middle 20.

The Knights special teams fared well through the first 40 minutes, but received a true test in the third period as the team found themselves stuck in a perpetual parade to the penalty box.

Early relief came in the form of Cody Rumsey’s first goal with the team at 1:21 into the period, assisted by Anthony Starzi and Alex Morawski.

The Knights then would take two penalties in the next few minutes of play.  The kill unit held on for the first, but a tired Knights backcheck finally saw Matthew Boring get Apple Core on the board at even strength. The 98 birth year took a well-placed pass from Eliot Friedow, set up by Daniel Fleischman, to the front of the net and poked it past Stahel for the goal.

On the second Knights penalty, looking to pull within two, Apple Core was caught out of position in neutral ice. Josh Edwards gashed the transitioning, New York attack with a well-placed pass to Zach Ouladelhadjahmed who ripped an absolute dagger past Urbaniak for the shorthanded score at 10:32.

Despite the renewed three-goal lead, the penalties continued for the Knights, with three more served in the period.

After an afternoon of successfully nullifying New York’s man-advantage, the Knights finally saw their armor crack at 16:01, when Race Bennett fired home a rebound off Patrick Sullivan’s shot and Mark Revniaga’s pass.

Despite the late score coupled with more power play time, New York was unable to close the gap, and the Knights with the help of solid penalty kill and goaltending from Stahel, closed out the game with a 5-2 win.

The Knights special teams went 2-7 on the power play and 8-9 on the penalty kill. They now find themselves in third place in the Mid-Atlantic division.

Now on a two-game winning streak, the Knights will have some time to collect themselves before their next contest on Sunday against the Philadelphia Revolution at the Class of 1923 arena in Philadelphia. The game will start at 1:00 pm and will be broadcast on hockeytv.com


Knights Drop Game Two in Battle with Aston

Penalties, staunch defense dictate outcome of game two

For the second consecutive night, the Knights and Rebels renewed acquaintances at the Aston IceWorks, vying for control of their opening round match up of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Much as they had the previous evening, the Knights started things quickly, pushing the puck deep into Aston territory in the game’s opening shifts. Though the first few minutes went without a high volume of shots making their way to either net, it was evident the speed and physicality from Friday had carried into Saturday’s action.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was first to generate solid looks on their target, as Michael Morrissey, Reed Robinson and Dorian Dawson all tested Mareks Mitens from open space in the Aston zone. The Latvian netminder didn’t blink and turned all three away.

Spurred on by the efforts of their goalie, the Rebels pushed back around the five minute mark of the first period, keeping the Knights out of the offensive zone for nearly four full minutes, while turning the shots tide against Grant Valentine.

The Knights netminder was also up to the early challenge as he did well to stone Aaron Maguyon from in close and fought through an Andrew Hart screen to stick away another puck. One strategy that quickly became evident was Aston’s goal of crashing straight to the net. The Knights early defensive efforts were strong in clogging up the middle of their own zone, diverting many cross-slot feeds out of danger’s way.

Dorian Dawson’s backchecking stood out on a play in which he raced back to poke a puck off the stick of Aston’s speedy forward Andrew Bellant as he tried to best Dawson one-on-one.

After being bogged down in their own end and neutral ice for a few shifts, the Knights awoke again just prior to the period’s halfway mark. Joe Schuler rung a puck off a post, Mike Gelatt dispensed checks liberally, and Mike Morrissey and Paul Maust buzzed around the net of Mitens to create two good, yet unsuccessful scoring chances.

It appeared at the 12:12 mark that the Knights were being given an early advantage when the Rebels were called for hooking. They were on the power play for 37 seconds before committing an infraction of their own as they tried to establish possession behind the net of Mitens.

In the 4-on-4 period that followed, the Rebels began to find more success in their efforts to crash the net. In one such instance, a Knight attempting to slow a Rebel forechecker barreling in off the rush collided with Grant Valentine. Play was stopped but Valentine would continue. Unfortunately the hit would be a precursor of more things to come for the Knights workhorse goalie.

Like his pairing mate Dawson, Markuss Komuls brought an impressive knack for disruption in his own zone Saturday night. Late in the Aston power play that followed the end of 4-on-4, Komuls raced back and took away a 2-on-1 rush for the Rebels when he dove to the ice to sweep away a connecting pass in front of Valentine. That effort allowed the Knights to return to even-strength unscathed on the scoreboard.

Mike Gelatt picked up where he left off throwing the body as he continued to open space on the ice with several more punishing hits. The Rebels responded with Gianluca Esteves very nearly scoring on a wraparound chance, only to be thwarted by Valentine’s quick, lateral movement.

The Knights had their own near-miss when Matt Kidney worked his way to the top of the Aston slot, made a quick deke and let a shot go that shaved the paint off the crossbar. The first 20 minutes came to a close without a score, largely due to stellar goaltending on both ends of the ice.

In the second, the Knights were in search of more established offensive possession. Most of their chances were still coming primarily off the rush. For their part, the Rebels seemed intent on getting bodies to the net of Grant Valentine. With both teams struggling to inflict their respective wills on each other, things turned chippy in a hurry.

The Rebels earned the better looks in the opening minutes of the second, as Carter Woolley and Jensen Zerban came up with quality chances, with Valentine stopping the first and Zerban missing just high on the second.

Jim Elser countered by streaking behind the Rebels last line of defense only to be denied by a spectacular, legal diving poke check by Ryan Solomon from behind the would-be breakaway.

Five minutes into the period, the Rebels took advantage of an awkward deflection in front of Valentine that allowed Andrew Hart to backhand the puck out of the air and into the twine.

The 1-0 lead flipped the swing of momentum to the Rebels attack. Shortly after Hart’s score, as another odd-man rush came crashing down towards Valentine, but Komuls added to the game’s growing list of defensive highlights with a diving block that disrupted the cross-ice pass to the otherwise open Gvido Jansons.

The path to the Knights net continued to attract Aston forecheckers, and with their presence came more bodies slamming into Grant Valentine. The first of the period came at 7:31, and in the ensuing post-whistle fracas, the Knights were assessed a cross-checking penalty.

Valentine would again rebound from contact quickly, turning away Jansons on a heavy slap shot and denying another from Esteves. The Knights penalty killers were quick to occupy shooting lanes that stopped would-be Aston shots through heavy screens.

Unluckily for the Knights, another kill would not provide needed relief as just two minutes after discarding their second penalty of the contest, they were back it again following an interference penalty. A combination of Morrissey killing clock with crafty possession in his own end, and Valentine making another flurry of saves would bring the Knights up to 3/3 on the shorthanded effort for the evening. They had little time to celebrate. At 14:09 they’d head right back to the box for high-sticking.

It would be deja vu all over again for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as individuals on the kill would make valiant plays to slow a potent Aston power play. Markuss Komuls and Mike Morrissey would again get low to block shots, Joe Schuler would tangle up and drag the puck to the boards to kill a large chunk of a time and Valentine stopped whatever got past those in front of him. The Knights appeared to finally gain reprieve as their fourth PK of the game was cut eight seconds short when Aston headed to the box for cross-checking.

That relief would be short-lived when just 49 seconds into the power play the Knights would again take a penalty, this time for boarding. On this occasion a battle-weary kill unit couldn’t quite fend off the Rebels.

Just 12 seconds prior to going a perfect five-for-five on the penalty kill, the Knights saw Gianluca Esteves get behind the defense and quite literally crash the net. As Esteves let go a puck that crossed the goal line, he bowled over Grant Valentine. After seeing their goalie hit the ice yet again, the Knights had had enough. In the pile up around the goal, gloves were dropped and punches were traded between both teams.

When the dust settled, the officials ruled that the power play goal was scored before contact was made with the Knights netminder, and the penalties that were assessed for the events afterward were coincidental.

Still, the Knights couldn’t escape the frame without taking one more trip to the sin bin. With just 33 seconds left before second intermission, hooking was called and the Knights were sent to a penalty kill  that would ultimately carry over to the third.

Following the frustration of 40 minutes of playoff hockey, and absent the reward of a goal, the Knights were looking to get the final frame started on a high note. They did succeed in killing the penalty from the end of the second, bringing their total up to 5/6 on the evening. That said, neither team sustained much of any offense following an taxing middle frame.

It took nearly seven minutes of play for anyone to record an official shot on goal and it came when the Knights got in close and a threw a puck off the body of Mitens. Somehow, the Rebels goalie was able to go all the way down to the ice and keep the bouncing puck out, while a rain of bodies poured down on top of him.

Just seconds later the process would repeat itself, with Mitens again ending up at the bottom of a dogpile and again successful in his efforts to keep the Knights off the board.

The Rebels found their offensive execution shortly thereafter but were thwarted once more by the efforts of Dorian Dawson. The Brown University commit blocked back-to-back shots from Dom Garcia and Andrew Bellant with both having been taken directly from the middle of the slot. After the Knights and Rebels were assessed another pair of coincidental penalties, Dawson was a wall once more blocking another chance just over halfway through the third.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came back and forced a penalties first at 11:04 and a gain at 13:51. As they had all weekend, the Rebels penalty killers responded with a back-to-back cancellations of a Knights power play unit that had entered the playoffs red hot, converting 30 percent of their chances since the beginning of March.

Following a few close opportunities around Mitens’ net, the Knights were determined to find some kind of advantage to get back in the game. With just over two minutes to play in regulation, they began a shift in the offensive zone with their net empty. At 17:56, Joe Schuler found a Dorian Dawson offering in front, turned and fired it past Mitens to give the Knights hope in the game’s closing moments.

Down just 2-1, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would again pull Valentine in the game’s final 60 seconds. This time the Aston defense would hold, and at the horn, the Rebels found themselves in possession of a two-game lead.

A pivotal game three will be played Friday, April 21st at the Revolution Ice Centre. Faceoff is set for 7:30 pm as the Knights will fight to get back into the series with the benefit of home ice. Come out and support the team, or tune into hockeytv.com and follow on twitter @wbsknights for wall-to-wall coverage of all the action!


Knights Win Chippy 4-2 Affair Over Kenai River

Special Teams, Antonitsch and Gelatt Lead the Way

Coming off a tough weekend in Fairbanks, the Knights entered Friday night looking to reverse the fortunes of their road trip in a meeting with the Kenai River Brown Bears.

The intensity of game three in Alaska was established in the early stages when Knights captain Tim Gelatt dropped the gloves with Brown Bears forward Carter Wade. The bout was quickly followed up by a slew roughing penalties less than a minute later that saw both teams send players to box.

Following an unsuccessful Knights power play, both teams hunkered down and channeled their adrenaline into a spirited, back and forth first period. After going nearly 18 minutes without a goal, Knights blue liner Paul Cimilluca notched his second tally of the season on assists from Paul Maust (25) and Michael Morrissey (8). The first ended in a 1-0 Knights lead on the scoreboard and 10-7 advantage in shots.

The second period began in similar fashion to the first, with an early Kenai River high-sticking penalty setting the tone. The Knights again would fail to score on the man advantage, but would soon be find more opportunities. At 5:02 Dorian Dawson and Jack Vincent dropped their gloves for the game’s second fight, shortly followed by the Brown Bears heading back to the box for a tripping penalty. This time the Knights would succeed on the power play when Mike Gelatt beat Robbie Goor for his 11th goal of the season (Antonitsch 20, Kidney 21).

The Knights followed up their tally with sloppy play, committing three penalties in the five minutes that followed Gelatt’s goal. Despite over a minute on the 5-on-3 kill, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton withstood each infraction, backed by their steady penalty kill and workhorse netminder Grant Valentine making his eighth-straight start. Kenai’s penalty kill got its turn when it withstood 44 seconds of 5-on-3 before killing off two penalties to close the second period.

Entering the third the Brown Bears forecheck found its stride. In the frame’s first 5:22, Kenai River struck twice off goals from Luke Radetic (Kaplan 8, Marzec 24) and Marzec (unassisted). With the game even at two, both teams buckled down once more, with just one penalty coming per side in the period. For the Brown Bears, their lone infraction would prove costly.

With just over four minutes left in regulation, Mike Gelatt (20) and Dorian Dawson (25) set up Sam Antonitsch’s 17th goal of the season on the power play. Vince Marino followed up the eventual game-winner with an insurance tally of his own at 16:31 coming off helpers from Adrian Danchenko (6) and Andrew Jackson (5). The 4-2 score would hold up as Valentine and the Knights back check fended off the last handful of Brown Bear chances to secure the victory.

With the win, the Knights improve to 27-25-4 as they ready themselves for the postseason. Their playoff push is currently being bolstered by a penalty kill that again represented itself well, going a perfect 6-for-6 on Friday night keeping the team firmly entrenched in the league’s top 10 units at 7th with a kill rate of 84.1% . The power play continues to make progress, now up to 16.7% success rate on the season with their 2-for-5 performance against the Brown Bears. The team and its players will get another opportunity to build on last night’s performance with a rematch slated for 7:30 pm Alaska Standard Time/ 11:30 pm Eastern tonight in Kenai River.

Knights Grind out Weekend Sweep Over Johnstown

Valentine, Penalty Kill Stellar, Youthful Offense Provides Late Surge

Entering their fourth meeting with the Johnstown Tomahawks of 2016, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights were searching for their second sweep of the season. The Tomahawks, who had dropped their previous five contests began the evening in hopes of rediscovering the rhythm that catapulted their team to a 13-0 start to begin the season.

The game began in much the same way as its predecessor just 24 hours earlier. The first period was largely spent with each team spending every few shifts in the offensive zone, amounting to a few decent chances on net for both sides, but nothing on the scoreboard other than shot totals. Again, like the night before, it would be the Knights who would break the game’s seal, again aided by a Johnstown penalties. Just as the Tomahawks second penalty of the game expired, Knights forward Adrian Danchenko split through a pair of penalty killers and tucked under the crossbar for the 1-0 lead at 16:02.

That score would hold not only for the remainder of the first but the entirety of the second. Neither Johnstown nor Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would concede much space in the firsts forty minutes of play, and despite a few more penalties committed by both sides, neither team could capitalize on any power play opportunity. In the final seconds, Paul Cimilluca was assessed a double minor for high sticking, giving Johnstown 3:59 on the man advantage to begin the third.

It was here that Knights goalie Grant Valentine elevated what had already been another strong performance in net. With already 20 shots on goal through forty minutes of play, the Tomahawks peppered Valentine for the remainder of the double-penalty. The veteran tender stood tall on each offering that made its way through the crease, blanking all offerings from the Johnstown forecheck.

Following the successful kill of the extended penalty, the Knights slowly began a counter attack that rejuvenated what had been a stagnant offense in the immediate wake of return to full-strength. After testing Drew Hotte with a number of solid shots, the Knights finally kicked in the door with 5:20 left to play. Following a few instances on the night where they had just missed on big play set ups, the Middletown connection awoke for the Knights as Khristian Acosta threw pass in front of Hotte’s net from beneath the goal line to an open Mike Gelatt. Gelatt buried the puck past Hotte to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.

Just 28 seconds later, Adrian Danchenko crashed hard to the net and threw a puck off Hotte’s pads. Trailing behind Danchenko, affiliate player Jack Olmstead tapped the rebound to the twine to give the Knights insurance and the 2017-18 Knights tender his first NAHL goal.

The 3-0 lead would hold for the remainder of play, giving Grant Valentine a 30-save shutout, his first of the season and his fifth win in his past seven starts. In that stretch, Valentine is 5-2 with a save percentage of .935 (186/199) and a GAA of 2.06, highlighted by this weekend in which the goalie went 2-0 with totals of .962% and 1.00. Also stellar was a Knights penalty kill that stopped 5/6 Friday and 4/4 Saturday, giving them a 90% kill rate for the past two games.

Currently six points behind the Tomahawks in the East, the Knights will attempt to further narrow the gap when they head to Johnstown next Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th for two more contests against their western PA rivals.