Tag Archives: Sam Solensky

Knights Can’t Fend off Tomahawks in Game 2

Trying to avoid a sweep on opening weekend, the Knights met the Tomahawks for the second straight afternoon inside the Revolution Ice Centre.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jumped out to an early start, applying a few quick chances on Johnstown netminder Cooper Lukenda in the game’s first six minutes. In his first NAHL start, the Canadian goalie was up to the task, stopping each of the Knights early offerings.  Like the Knights the day before, the Tomahawks went on to strike on their very first shot of the game.

Just shy of the six minute mark, Alex Wilkins zipped a pass to Christian Gorscak who found a wide open Oliver Benwell in front, where the latter ripped a puck past Knights starter Samuel Vyletelka, who was just inches from making the save.

The 1-0 lead kicked off an avalanche of Johnstown pressure. The Tomahawks added quickly to their shot total, peppering Vyletelka and drawing penalties.

On the third Knights infraction, Johnstown made them pay. With the man advantage, Carson Brière fed a puck to Cameron Hebert, who fired one across to Samuel Solensky. Solensky, a thorn in the Knights side throughout his NAHL career, ripped a shot past his fellow Slovak in Vyletelka for the 2-0 Johnstown lead.

In the second, the Knights would begin the period in earnest, again picking up pressure in the offensive zone. They were finally rewarded at 4:44. Set up by Joey Verkerke and Zak Currie, Jacob Badal ripped a sharp-angle laser from the bottom of the right circle that bested Lukenda to cut the Johnstown lead in half.

The Tomahawks would take less two minutes to answer. Following another Knights penalty, the Johnstown power play struck again when Carson Brière found some space on the left circle. The ’99 forward juggled the puck around a block attempt and ripped it home for the 3-1 lead. Samuel Solensky and Cameron Hebert  picked up helpers on the score.

Under three minutes later, Brière and Solensky would strike again, when the former found the latter on a 2-on-1 for Johnstown’s fourth goal. Dominick Posta was credited with the secondary assist that sprung the odd-man rush, giving the Tomahawks a 4-1 lead heading into the third.

In the game’s final stanza, penalties dominated the pace of play. During a four-on-four play just three and a half minutes into the period, Christian Gorscak found a turnover after a Knights player lost an edge in his own zone. Walking in with pressure right on his heels, Gorscak fired the puck over Vyletelka’s shoulder to create a 5-1 advantage.

The score would hold up through a slew of penalties committed by both sides through the remainder of play. At the final horn, Johnstown would head home with four points in their first two games. In the win, his first in the NAHL, Cooper Lukenda stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal for the Tomahawks. Samuel Vyletelka made 42 saves in the loss.

The Knights will look to bounce back when they head to Blaine, Minnesota later this week for the NAHL Showcase. Their first game will take place Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT against the Topeka Pilots. Catch that game on www.hockeytv.com, and stay tuned to Knights social media for all Knights news on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

Penalties Spoil Opener for the Knights in Close Loss to Johnstown

The 2018-19 NAHL season kicked off for the Knights on Friday afternoon, as the team welcomed the Johnstown Tomahawks to the Revolution Ice Centre. Game one of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s East Division title defense began with the Tomahawks jumping out to a fast start, as their high-paced forecheck quickly established a physical presence.

Knights 2018 first round pick Zach Stejskal was tested early and often, but responded with a flurry of impressive saves, using his 6-5 frame to dismiss Johnstown’s initial chances.

Following the expiration of the game’s first penalty just minutes into the first, Jeffrey Bertrand hopped out of the box and into an interception as the Nittany Lion commit plucked an exit pass off the Johnstown blue line before starting in on Tomahawks goalie Kade Phipps. Alone in front, Bertrand ripped a shot through to give the Knights their first goal and lead of the season (unassisted).

Stejskal and the Knights penalty kill would withstand Johnstown’s steady barrage through the remainder of the period, leaving the ice with a 1-0 lead.

The second period followed a similar pattern; Johnstown controlling the pace, while Stejskal and the defense stood tall. A disallowed goal in the period only motivated Johnstown as their forecheck redoubled their efforts to solve Stejskal.

The Tomahawks would finally break through just shy of 37 minutes of being held off the board. After Stejskal fought through a pair of screens, he lost his balance trying to make a save on a blocked shot from Anthony Mastromonica. A falling Mitchell Hale found and poked the loose puck into the open net for the game-tying goal. Chris Trouba tallied the secondary assist on the score.

Heading into the third, penalties continued to sap any rhythm from the Knights forecheck, with Johnstown continuing to win the 200-foot battle.

Finally, the Knights found their stride four minutes into the third period. In transition, Anthony Starzi found Jake Fuss streaking through the Johnstown slot on an odd-man rush. Alone in front, Fuss waited for Phipps to commit to moving forward, before handing a quick pass off to Tyler Nielsen. Nielsen buried the open-net goal to complete the Knights EHL-alumni trifecta, re-establishing the one-goal lead.

The lead held through more Johnstown pressure, as the Knights protected their advantage well into the second half of the period. One Tomahawks near miss came when Chad Merrell rang a shot off the crossbar, missing the equalizer by mere millimeters. Not to be deterred, Merrell tried going high again at the 13:21 mark and was rewarded, as his perfectly placed snipe beat Stejskal to again even the score (Colin Price, Alex Wilkins).

Another Knights penalty would prove costly in the game’s final four minutes. After going a perfect four of four on the kill through 56 minutes of play, the Knights kill team was finally bested for the Tomahawks first lead. Off of a Hunter Toale pass, Samuel Solensky found himself parked in the middle of the slot with the puck. Waiting until Stejskal moved to answer the challenge, Solensky slid a perfect backdoor pass to a waiting Cameron Hebert, who ripped the puck home for the Tomahawks first lead with just under four to play.

The Knights attempted rally saw a few chances and an extended time in the attacking end after Stejskal was pulled for the extra attacker, but Johnstown held on to secure the 3-2 win.

In the loss, Zach Stejskal was excellent, stopping 51 of 54 shots on goal. On the opposite end, Kade Phipps was steady in the win, making 16 saves for Johnstown on his way to his first victory of the 18-19 season.

The pair of teams will rematch today at 3:30 pm EDT. The game will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com. Follow Knights Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for in-game updates!

 

 

Knights Jump to First Place with Shootout Win Over Johnstown

On Friday, the Knights entered Johnstown with the NAHL’s and East Division’s second-highest point total. They left the 1st Summit Arena at the Cambria County War Memorial in first place across the board. Getting there wasn’t easy.

A back-and-forth first period saw Wilkes-Barre/Scranton mount 11 shots on Johnstown’s veteran goalie Britt League. He answered them all. The Tomahawks responded with seven offerings on Knights starter Christian Stoever. Tomahawks forward Christian Gorscak squeezed the lone goal of the first past Stoever at 9:08 on the set up by Andrew Andary and Pavel Kharin.

In the second period the Knights would continue to plug away, increasing their shot total to 24 on League, while Stoever turned away all eight shots sent on his net in the frame. The Knights continued pressure was rewarded when at 6:31, when Michael Morrissey found Reed Robinson with space above the circles on a power play. The big-bodied forward continued his stellar season when he walked the puck down, picked his spot and fired a dart past League to tie the game at one with his 10th goal of the season.

The game went to the third period gridlocked 1-1. The Knights broke the tie when Jack Olmstead lofted a long stretch pass to Matt Kidney behind the defense. Kidney marched in on goal alone and ripped a shot by League to give the Knights the 2-1 lead.

It appeared the advantage would be the final score as time ran down to the final seconds with Tomahawks still trailing and their net emptied. Instead, in regulation’s final moments, Samuel Solensky dug a puck out of a pile on the Knights half wall, sent it behind the net, where Andy Nedeljkovic centered it in front to a crashing Toby Sengvongxay. Sengvongxay pushed the puck past Stoever with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to force OT.

In the three-on-three extra time, neither side could solve each other’s netminder as Stoever and League stood down all chances on goal. The game moved to the shootout, and with the transition continued each goalie’s stellar play. Through the first two rounds, neither team scored. In round three, Reed Robinson buried his chance to give the Knights an opportunity to win. Andy Nedeljkovic kept his clutch night going by tying the shootout with a last-chance effort in the bottom of the third.

In hockey’s version of extra innings neither team found the net in the next three rounds. Christian Stoever made two incredible saves in rounds five and six  to rob Sam Solensky and Donovan Ott. Stoever’s save on Solensky came off a great move in front, while Ott was robbed with a mid-air puck deflection off of Stoever’s stick.

In the top of the 7th round, Knights first-round pick Gabe Temple ripped a puck past League to again move his team into the lead. Faced with another last-chance, down the ice came Tomahawks captain Cade Groton to attempt to tie the contest once more. He drove hard to the front of the net, but Stoever went down and turned the puck away for the Knights victory.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s fifth-straight win, and 10th-straight game with a point or more, now moves the team to 13-3-3. Their 29 points leads the East Division and the NAHL. They’ll look to keep their hot streak going with another competition in Johnstown tonight. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm EST. The game can be viewed on http://www.hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to Knights social media and nahl.com for updates!