Tag Archives: Thomas Farrell

Knights Fall to Shreveport to End Great Season

Photo: John Elftmann/NAHL

On Saturday, in their 70th game of the year, the Knights were faced with their third contest with win-or-go home stakes. Wins in the first two such games gave them confidence heading into their battle with the Shreveport Mudbugs. 

Out again for a stone-cold goalie showdown was Christian Stoever for the Knights and Jaxon Castor for the Mudbugs. Their game one meeting produced the third star for Stoever and top star for Castor following Shreveport’s 2-0 victory Friday. 

In front of both skated 18 teammates hungry to advance to the first Robertson Cup Championship in their respective teams’ short histories.

After being battered through the third period in their game one loss, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton erupted off of game two’s opening puck drop, taking speed and physicality to Shreveport in the game’s first eight minutes. Taking six of the game’s first seven shots, the Knights had the Mudbugs on their heels through much of the first 10 minutes. Castor withstood the early push to allow his team early room for error. 

Just shy of the 9:00 mark, the Mudbugs awoke. Their response was their trademark, grinding forecheck trapping the Knights for consecutive shifts in their own zone. 

Though the tables had suddenly turned, Christian Stoever did not. The netminder maintained his steady play, turning away nine-straight shots before the Knights dug out of their own zone late in the period. 

On a late push back into the attacking zone, Curtis Carlson and Reed Robinson nearly found the game’s first goal, just left of the Shreveport net. Castor reached back just enough to bat away the puck. At the end of of a see-saw first, the game was locked in a scoreless tie.

Carlson, Robinson, and Hatten, slighted by their near miss at the end of the first, hit the ice hard in the opening minute of the second frame. On the forecheck Reed Robinson forced a puck up the left wing boards, back to Joey Verkerke at the point. Verkerke fed Carlson in the middle of the slot, where the Knights captain dragged his way around a man, freeing himself in front of the net. With his final move in the effort to beat Castor, Carlson’s handle on the puck came free to Lincoln Hatten. The Texas winger scooped up the loose puck and buried it for his second goal of the postseason, just 53 seconds into the period. 

With the boost of an early strike and their first lead of the series, the Knights hit the gas pedal. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, the team took command of the pace of play, drawing three penalties and spending ample time over the offensive blue line. 

Castor stood tall, keeping the puck out of the net through eight more Knights shots. The vaunted Shreveport penalty kill did their part in keeping the Knights power play off the board. 

With just over two minutes remaining, the Mudbugs pushed back. Roberts Baranovskis put a shot on net from the right circle, pulling Stoever out of the crease in the process of making the save. The rebound kicked over to Brendan VanSweden on the left circle. Taking a shot at a seemingly open net, VanSweden was robbed by a sprawling Thomas Farrell, negating the Mudbugs best chance of the period.

At 18:43 in, the Knights took their first penalty to set up a stretch of 4-on-4 play.

In the waining minute of the period, they took advantage of the extra space and drove into the offensive zone. On the left half-wall Curtis Carlson poked a puck down low to Jack Olmstead in the corner. Olmstead centered the puck to the slot for a crashing Shay Donovan. In alone, Donovan was robbed when Castor stacked his pads in a sprawling kick save, robbing the Knights of a 2-0 lead. Through 40 minutes they would instead have to settle for a one-goal advantage. 

In the third, Shreveport finally began to break through. A centering pass from the right wing corner off the stick of Jordan Fader was poked by a crashing Ryan Burnett through the save attempt of Stoever. The tying score at 5:02 brought juice to the Shreveport attack. 

On their second power play of the game, the Mudbugs cashed in on a mad scramble in front of Stoever’s net after the goalie made a quick stick save. Gueorgui Feduolov found the bouncing puck and squeezed it inside the right post to take a 2-1 lead at 7:14. 

A five-minute major assessed to the Knights for a boarding at 7:39 touched off a series of costly penalties. For seven minutes and 44 seconds the Knights were shorthanded, as they were given four penalties over the span. They killed them all, including two stretches down 5-on-3. 

Emerging without allowing a goal, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still had life down just one with 4:37 remaining in the third. Their final push included over a minute with the extra attacker on, but they could not solve Castor and Shreveport’s defense. 

At the horn, the Knights season ended with a 2-1 defeat. A great season ended two games too soon, but in the coming days the Knights will reflect on a hard-fought year that won accolades, respect, and most importantly advancement to the next level in both college and junior hockey.

The team will return home one last time Tuesday following the conclusion of the NAHL’s Robertson Cup. To all Knights fans, players, families, and staff, thank you for a fantastic season! 

Knights Enter Final Four Looking to Extend Torrid Run

Written By: Nicholas Marotta

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

The Knights touched down in Minnesota Wednesday to enter the final stages of their pursuit of a Robertson Cup. Today they will face the Shreveport Mudbugs in a best-of-three series to determine which of the pair will play for the Robertson Cup on Monday.

After a gritty 3-2 series win over the New Jersey Titans, the Knights swept their way through the Philadelphia Rebels to win the right to represent the East Division in the Final Four. Less than two weeks have passed since the team punched their tickets to Blaine, but how did they earn the trip?  

Not only was the journey carried by a complete team effort, but this postseason run has come off of the back of many strong individual performances.

One key player that immediately stands out is goalie Christian Stoever.  Number 31 has been a wall in the playoffs. In his seven playoff starts, he has allowed less than three goals in five games, including a shutout in a 1-0 victory against the Titans in game four of the first round.  

In the team’s more recent series against Philadelphia, Stoever had a save percentage of 94%.  Even more impressive is that Stoever has had a knack for stepping up in big spots during both series. In round one, facing consecutive elimination games, he produced a shutout in game four, followed by a 49-save effort to win the series.

Rookie forward Jack Olmstead has also been a major contributor during the Knights’ playoff run.  Olmstead has had a point in every Knights playoff game this season, and scored two goals in the team’s second game of their series against Philadelphia. The line of Olmstead, Michael Morrissey, and Matt Kidney are three of the top four scorers in the 2018 playoffs for the Knights.  Olmstead, however, leads the team in points with ten.

Other new faces on the Knights NAHL roster for this season include Gabe Temple, who has three goals in the playoffs, and Tyrone Bronte, who’s notched three goals and three assists so far.  

Even in a season highlighted by great rookie performances, veterans like Reed Robinson and Curtis Carlson have been a strong base for the newer members of the team to rise to the forefront.  

Robinson scored the fourth and final goal in the first game of the team’s series against Philadelphia, while Carlson was able to put the team up 2-1 in their eventual 5-4 victory against the Rebels in game two.  Carlson has scored three other goals in the playoffs, and Robinson another goal and assist.

The Knights defensive end has been equally impressive throughout the postseason. Led by veteran Joey Verkerke and All-East blue-liner Thomas Farrell, the group of rookies has helped the team keep their average goals against at 2.25 throughout the playoffs.  Verkerke, who’s had a keen eye for passing and a knack for blocking shots, has an active four game point streak via four assists.

Tonight’s puck drop against Shreveport will be the team’s first appearance in the Final Four and their second meeting on the season with Shreveport. With a staunch defense and a potent offense, the team is poised for to make a run toward Robertson Cup.

Tune into tonight’s game on www.hockeytv.com and follow along through Knights social media and at www.nahl.com.

 

Knights Open Round Two with Commanding Win

Fresh off their first NAHL playoff series win, the Knights went to Aston, Pennsylvania Friday with their sights set on another challenge: beat an old nemesis. The Philadelphia Rebels have met the Knights in the postseason for each of the last three seasons. The Rebels were 6-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the playoffs before puck drop Thursday night. They won this year’s regular season tilt 8-4. For the Knights to achieve their goal in toppling the two-time East division finalists, game one was a pivotal chance to set the early tempo for the best-of-five series.

The game began as a one-sided affair and it was the Knights who seized total control. Following a brief stretch of zone-trading, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton offense started to dig in. Once situated, they peppered Philadelphia starting goalie Ryan Keane with 16 shots in the opening frame.

On wall scrum just prior to the four minute mark of the first, Lincoln Hatten dug a puck free and flipped it back to Joey Verkerke on the left point. On his off-wing, Verkerke let go a side-winder that caromed off the back boards to the net front for a waiting Curtis Carlson. Carlson has great speed, but one of the traits that makes him special is his agility to use his quickness in close quarters. Corralling the loose puck, Carlson dragged Keane out of the net before curling the puck around him and burying for the game’s first goal.

With a 1-0 lead, the Knights allowed no push back. After a series of a faceoffs in the attacking zone, Michael Morrissey won a puck to his winger Jack Olsmtead. Olmstead kicked the puck up to the right point for Thomas Farrell. Farrell let go an elevated shot that beat Keane through a Matt Kidney screen to put the Knights up 2-0 in the game’s first eight minutes.

The Rebels would spend much of the first period attempting to contain the Knights blistering forecheck and speed off the rush. They tested Knights starter Christian Stoever with just two first-period shots. In the final minutes of the opening frame, the Rebels were able to create a few quality scoring chances that missed the net by mere inches, but were held scoreless through the first.

In the second, play picked up for Philadelphia, as they were able to create a few more quality chances, but time and again they were stymied by Stoever and a quick Knights blue line. As Wilkes-Barre/Scranton weathered the initial push from Philadelphia, they returned to their siege of the offensive zone.

Just under 12:30 into the middle period, the Rebels tried an outlet pass up their right wing. Michael Morrissey jumped in front of short pass at the blue line and deftly poked it back over to the just onside Jack Olmstead. Olmstead deked a back checking Rebel to the top of the slot, where he somehow found a crashing Matt Kidney behind the defense.  Kidney ripped a shot under the crossbar to give the Knight a 3-0 lead. The tally chased Ryan Keane and brought on Eli Billing.

Billing came on cold but performed well, facing seven shots in the final minutes of the second period. It wasn’t until the Knights moved to the game’s first power play that Billing was beaten. With just six seconds remaining in their man-advantage, Luke Robinson fired a point pass to Blake Kryska who hammered a shot toward the slot. The puck never made it through to the net, instead bouncing off a Rebels skater in front and into the lap of Reed Robinson. Robinson immediately let go a shot from the slot that rippled the twine, putting his team up 4-0 at the end of two periods of play.

In the third, The Knights hunkered down to protect their advantage. The Rebels responded with 12 shots on Christian Stoever (25 saves).  He stopped 11, before the Rebels finally found a crack.

After a scoreless first half to the period, Eric Olson carried a puck into the attacking zone, bowling over a Knights defender in the process. Olson’s pass to the corner was initially grabbed by the Knights, but was turned over to Ryan Patrick in the opposite corner. Through a check, Patrick slid a perfect centering pass to the open Olson in front of the net. The Calgary-native didn’t miss the opportunity and spoiled Stoever’s shutout with under nine minutes to play.

The rest of the competition failed to yield a goal, as the Knights skated away with a definitive game-one win. The team will return to Aston Saturday night at 7:05 PM EDT for game two. That game will be available on hockeytv.com. Follow Knights social media, www.wbsknights.com, and nahl.com for all news and updates!

Game 5: Knights Knock off Titans to Advance to Round 2

Sunday’s winner-take-all match up between the Knights and Titans lived up to its billing with high intensity from the opening puck drop. In hostile territory, the Knights aimed to advance with their first playoff series win in the organization’s short NAHL history.

The team received exactly the kick start it needed when Reed Robinson notched his first goal of the postseason just 5:39 into the first. Having played each other nine times over the last month, the Knights and Titans have become familiar with some of each other’s tendencies. Robinson, pressuring in the low right wing while the Titans attempted to coordinate a breakout, hawked a pass from behind the net at the front door, and proceeded to rip a shot through Titans goalie Matt Ladd for the 1-0 lead.

For much of the first, the Knights battled hard and succeeded in driving pucks and possession in the offensive zone, while executing fast, and crisp breakouts out of their own end. They were backstopped again by stellar play from Christian Stoever. Fresh off a 51-save shutout in game four, Stoever was tremendous in net once more, fending off a few early odd-man rushes from New Jersey, on his way to 14 saves in the first.

In the period’s final minute, the Knights top line moved out of their own zone on a quick rush up the left wing. Jack Olmstead flipped a puck ahead to Michael Morrissey who started a 2-on-1 with Matt Kidney over the Titans blue line. Kidney led Morrissey to the left circle, where the latter backhanded a perfect set up back to Matt Kidney who had looped back through the slot. Kidney, playing once again in his hometown, darted across the face of Ladd before putting home his first goal of the playoffs, moving the Knights up 2-0 with just 10 seconds left in the first.

Spurred on by their early success, the Knights picked up where they left off in the opening period with a swift attack that drew an early penalty in the second. Late in the ensuing power play, Reed Robinson fired into the offensive zone where he threw a puck back to a trailing Tyrone Bronte. After accepting a return pass, Robinson spotted a wide-open Blake Kryska at the top of the zone.  With ice in front of him, Kryska walked Robinson’s pass through the slot before burying a wrister by Ladd for the 3-0 lead at 6:09.

The Titans finally got on the board just prior to the halfway point of the second. Jimmy Dowd Jr. flipped a puck through center ice from the left side of his own blue line. A savvy move by Matt Cameron caused the Knights to over commit to the winger, while the speedy Ryan Naumovski took the puck in over the right wing of the attacking end. Beating the backcheck to the bottom of the zone, Naumovski flipped a puck off a body in front and past Stoever to cut the Knights lead to 3-1.

The flood gates opened in the second half of the period for New Jersey as the Titans began an onslaught of chances and shifts in the Knights end of the ice. Stoever stood tall as the Knights attempted to regroup, and the score remained 3-1 at the end of 40 minutes of play.

On a carryover stretch of 4-on-4 hockey to start the third, the Titans turned to their speed to take advantage of the extra space on the ice. Nick Boyagian started a breakout with a long pass from behind his own net to Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler criss-crossed behind the lightning-fast Wade Novak as the pair crossed the blue line. The defenseman had just enough room to bank a pass of the boards behind Stoever’s net, which pinballed perfectly to a crashing Novak. With his third goal of the playoffs, Novak beat Stoever to the back post, narrowing the score to 3-2 just 50 seconds into the period.

With the momentum reversed heavily against them, the Knights needed to come up with a fast response. On a sequence that appeared to be going the wrong way for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Joey Verkerke came up with a game-turning play.

After a Knights defender fell down to allow Ryan Naumovski a seemingly clear path to the net, Verkerke made a diving block through the low slot, pushing the puck into the corner. Regaining his feet, Verkerke pushed the puck back up the left wall to Justin Engelkes who laced a perfect home-run pass to the streaking Adrian Danchenko up the right wing. Danchenko received the puck just prior to the red line, and burned the Titans last back-checker to create a breakaway. In alone on Ladd, Danchenko ripped a perfect shot top shelf, stick-side to regain the two-goal lead just under three minutes into the third.

With the multi-goal advantage once more, the Knights quickly went into a defensive-mode, easing slightly off the attack and placing trust in their defense and their red-hot goaltender to seal the victory. They held the score through the bulk of the period to force the Titans hand late.

Down two with just over three minutes remaining, Matt Ladd left the crease for the extra attacker. The Knights were placed under siege as the Titans, who had already forced several icings just minutes prior, maintained the offensive zone on long shifts. Their shots made it to the net, but not by Stoever, who made one great stop  after another on his way to 49 saves for the evening, and finishing with 129 on the weekend.

The final highlight came after Stoever leapt out of his stance to knock a high shot away with the stick, with just under two minutes to play. Lincoln Hatten’s clearing effort just missed New Jersey’s open net, keeping tired Knights legs on the ice for another faceoff.

This time, Michael Morrissey won the puck cleanly off the draw and flipped it back to the corner for Thomas Farrell. Farrell lifted the puck up the side-wall to Hatten, who barreled his way out of the zone. Playing an expert game of keep-away through three poke-check attempts, Hatten skated the puck to just above the Titans blue line where he arched a backhanded shot perfectly into the open net.

The Knights fifth goal secured the game-five win, as well as their first series win in their Robertson Cup Playoff history. They will move on to take on the Philadelphia Rebels in the East Division Finals, another best-of-five series, beginning later this week. The schedule will be released shortly.

Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all news and updates!

Game 2: Knights Storm Back to Even Series with Titans

Any postseason series in hockey is determined by momentum swings or lack thereof. Following a 5-2 loss to New Jersey in their East Division Semi-Finals opener, the Knights looked to reverse course on Sunday or face the risk of falling into a 2-0 deficit.

Neither the Titans nor the Knights found much momentum through the opening 20 minutes of game two. Though Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held a definitive advantage in offensive chances in the opening period, they could not solve Titans netminder Brandon Perrone while peppering him with 19, first-period shots.

For their part, the Titans offense mustered nine shots on the net of Christian Stoever, manning the pipes for his Knights postseason debut. The Northville, Michigan native stopped the first eight shots New Jersey put on goal, but early penalties finally caught up with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

While attempting to kill off a 5-on-3, the Knights were beaten on a swift passing from Nick Boyagian, who fed Kyler Head, parked to the right of Stoever. Head, who authored two power play goals in game one, pulled Stoever’s attention and motion to the right post. Head then threaded a back-door pass to a waiting  Hunter Alden, whose shot beat Stoever’s scramble to get back across with 8 seconds left in the period.

Down a goal heading into the middle frame for the second-consecutive game, the Knights would fire out of the first intermission with a blistering pace. Like the night before, they tallied the second period’s first goal to tie the game.

On an early power play, the Knights set up a strong cycle in the Titans zone. From the right circle, Michael Morrissey zipped a puck back to Thomas Farrell, who let a howitzer shot go from the point. Perrone made the initial save, only to see the rebound kick over to Gabe Temple in front. Temple buried the puck for the game-tying goal just shy of the 3:00 mark of the frame.

Temple’s tally set off an avalanche. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forecheck was unrelenting through much of the period. They were rewarded with their next score, just past the nine minute mark. Jake Fuss tangled and won a puck in the Titans far corner before driving from to the front of Perrone’s net. Fuss fired a shot off the goalie’s pads and the rebound glanced over back to the trailing Tomas Koblizek who ripped the puck over Perrone for the Knights first lead.

Farrell followed up with a goal of his own less than a minute later. Matt Kidney jarred a puck free with a check in the right corner of the attacking zone. Jack Olmstead found the biscuit and fired it to the top of the slot where Farrell ripped it through traffic, past Perrone for the 3-1 lead.

The Knights advantage was continually protected by an excellent outing from Christian Stoever. The 2000-born netminder neutralized New Jersey’s attempts to mount a rally with a bevvy of impressive saves.

In the period’s final minute, a forechecking Tomas Koblizek fought off two Titans before kicking the puck to Jake Fuss. From under the New Jersey goal line, Fuss, facing the glass of the end boards, flipped a perfect no-look pass to Tyrone Bronte streaking toward the net. Bronte pulled Perrone out of the crease with a fake, before dragging around the goalie for the highlight-reel goal.

In the third, the Knights didn’t sit on their lead, continuing their attack, despite facing resistance from the Titans always-dangerous transition game. Stoever stood tall throughout, making 11 saves in the game’s final frame, finishing with 29 on 30 shots on the evening.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s final insurance came on a delayed Titans penalty a little more than halfway through the third. On a play in which Blake Kryska was hit into his own end wall from behind, the big defenseman was able to steer the puck through the check and up the boards to Luke Robinson. After a brief survey, Robinson laced a long stretch pass to Justin Engelkes, waiting behind the Titans defense in neutral ice. Engelkes, moving in alone on Perrone, beat the savvy goaltender with flutter move from his backhand to the forehand to put the Knights ahead 5-1.

There the score would hold through the remainder of the contest, delivering the Knights a much-needed, series equalizer. The teams will meet again for game three at the Revolution Ice Centre in the best of five series this Friday, April 20th at 5:00 PM EDT. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!

Knights Offense Explodes in a Friday Night of Firsts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thomas Farrell Commits to Army

Photo: NAHL

Another Knight will be making the change from blue to black in the near future as Thomas Farrell made his commitment to Army official Thursday. The defenseman will head to West Point starting in the 2019-2020 season, joining the program at the NCAA DI level.

“I’m feeling a little better than good,” laughed Farrell shortly after making his commitment official. “Honestly, I went in there for a visit with an open mind. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always looked up to the military. Now being a part of that, being a small part of that history and that family is a great honor.”

 
At 19, the right handed blue-liner has logged regular minutes atop the Knights defensive corps this season, picking up three goals and 22 assists in 55 games played.
 
“Thomas has been a staple for us this season,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We send him out there in all situations; power play, penalty kill, three-on-three, four-on-four, overtime, you name it, he’s out there. I can’t think of a better example than this past weekend. We were down to just four healthy defensemen for a three-game weekend. Thomas played a big part in helping us secure four out of six points, keeping us in the race for the #2 seed in our division. He logged a lot of minutes, and our confidence in him never wavered. We knew he had a high ceiling when we tendered him last year and he’s come in and exceeded our expectations.”
 
Farrell’s future team, the Army Black Knights, have built a proud history playing division one hockey dating back to 1903. Steered by head coach Brian Riley, the team and Army’s commitment to excellence caught Farrell’s eye.
 
“One thing I noticed when I stepped on campus while talking to the coaching staff and also the players there was that it was just an extremely dedicated and committed group of people,” he said. “I just saw it as a really great environment for me where I can excel and grow both on and off the ice with them. The leadership program there is awesome. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world. I’m very excited to say the least.”
 
Farrell will join current teammate and fellow defenseman Anthony Firriolo, who committed to Army earlier this season. The pair will begin their careers in the 2019-2020 season.
 
“I went on a visit there on Monday,” said Farrell. “I ended up going out with Anthony for lunch after practice on Tuesday. I kinda sat down with him and talked with him a little bit about the dedication and commitment after not only going to the school but also after the four years of education. There’s 17 branches of the military you can go into. It’s not just serving in the front lines. We talked about all the different programs, the student-to-faculty ratio which is awesome. It’s just a great environment.”
 
Farrell’s play stood out even as a tender pressed into duty last postseason when the Knights were depleted by injuries. As a regular in 2017-18, it didn’t take long for Farrell to establish himself as one of the league’s better defenders.
 
“I would consider myself a two-way defenseman,” he said about his game. “That’s how I believe I was scouted by Coach McKelvie, the defensive coach at Army. That’s what he was looking for and that’s a role I think I can fit into. With the Knights here in Wilkes-Barre I think I’ve been able to do a really good job playing defense first then also finding a way to get involved in the offense and doing well with that. Then off the ice, I would say that you’re just getting a kid that’s really put in the hours and the dedication to the sport. That’s what I’m all about, and I think I can bring that dedication and that commitment to the classroom as well. It’s just something I’m really looking forward to do.”
 
“Beyond just his talent, Thomas has been a regular starter for us due to his character on and off the ice,” said Kowal. “He works incredibly hard. Whether it’s practice or a game, he’s on the ice and then he goes right into the weight room. He’s constantly setting an example for the rest of our team to follow.”
 
Farrell’s performance in the first half of the year earned him a spot on the East Division’s top prospects team at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament at the end of February.
 
“Hockey is a team sport,” he said. “That’s one of the most important things that you always gotta have in the back of your head. You can’t just do it all yourself. Anthony and I wouldn’t have these commitments right now if it wasn’t for our team we’re playing with every day on the ice, pushing us to the best of our ability. We’ve just been pushing each other to get as good as we can get and to get noticed. I think that the East Division has played a key role in that as well. This division is one of the fastest in the league. It’s had a key part in us getting noticed by West Point and getting me the chance to visit and figure out what the school is all about.”
 
As the the NAHL postseason draws near, Farrell’s commitment to school wont take away from his commitment to a Robertson Cup run. A three-game showdown with the Titans, beginning with two home games this weekend, could play a massive role in securing the Knights home-ice advantage heading into April’s tournament.
 
“We’re in a really tight race right now with the Titans for that home-ice advantage between the two and three seeds,” said Farrell. “The goal as of right now is to take it one step at a time. This weekend we’re trying to get a solid, at least two out of three against these guys. We want to really clinch that home-ice advantage so that we can go into the playoffs feeling good, with that home ice and take it control a little bit.”
 
Even with games still to play, perspective isn’t lost on Farrell or his coach.
 
“I want to thank Thomas for his contributions to the Knights at this point in his career,” said Kowal. “He’s been an asset as a player but more importantly as a teammate and person. Wherever he is next year, I know he’s got a bright future ahead.”
 
“I just want to shout out to my mom and dad and my sister Brooke,” said Farrell. “They’re the ones that I’ve been with my whole life. I love them, really a lot. I did it for them. They’re the ones that would get me up in the morning. They’re the ones I’d get to see every day and kind of inspired me to be the person I am today. Without them I don’t think I’d be having this conversation.”
 
The Knights congratulate Thomas on his commitment and thank him for all his hard work. The team has been made better by his drive, one that he brings with him everywhere he goes. The Black Knights are getting a good one.
 

Power Play and Goaltending Spur Knights to Victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RECAP: Knights Fall to Rebels to Open Weekend

Game one of three for the Knights on the weekend saw them host the Philadelphia Rebels for their third-straight contest. The game began where last weekends’ left off-the Rebels scoring.

A long first period was kicked off by Brandon Stanley, who scored for the second-consecutive game, besting Knights starter David Tomeo off assists from Jimmy Glynn and Diarmad Dimurro.

The Knights would answer on their first power play of the evening, when Blake Kryska crashed down from the blue line to collect a Michael Morrissey rebound which he then put past Rebels goalie Ryan Keane. Tom Farrell picked up a secondary assist on a goal that snapped Keane’s impressive 149:05 shutout streak.

The Rebels would respond quickly. 17 seconds after their score, the Knights found themselves shorthanded for slashing. 1:21 into the man advantage, Ryan Patrick found Carson Moniz for the power play goal.

Philadelphia hit the gas after re-gaining the lead. From the top of the right circle, Aaron Maguyon fired a wrist shot by Tomeo at 9:56 to build a 3-1 advantage (Ryan Patrick, Carson Moniz). Auggie Moore duplicated the feat from the opposite circle a minute and a half later off a quick set up from Eric Olson.

Down 4-1, the Knights would re-gain their footing in the final six minutes of the period. Led by the Reed Robinson-Curtis Carlson-Lincoln Hatten line, the Knights offense bullied their way around the base of the Rebels zone to close the opening frame. Before the horn, Carlson set up Hatten in close, where the latter ripped a shot off the pads of Keane. The rebound found it’s way to a hard-charging Reed Robinson, who buried the rebound, bar down to cut the Rebels lead in half.

The Knights took the momentum into the middle period, a stretch of play in which they dominated chances on goal, but could not solve Ryan Keane. All totaled, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton out-shot Philadelphia 19-8 in the second, but could not add to their end of the scoreboard. Instead, Aaron Maguyon chased Tomeo on a power play shot that found its way through traffic just 6:22 into the second (Jensen Zerban, Dimurro).

Christian Stoever was welcomed rudely to the contest at 14:53 when Chase Hamstad buried the Rebels sixth goal off helpers from Dimurro and Jimmy Glynn.

Trailing by four to start the third, the Knights, to their credit, did not roll over. They were able to add ten more shots on goal, while holding the Rebels in check for over 19 minutes of the period. Curtis Carlson would again trim the deficit to three after the Knights captain beat Keane (42 saves) following Paul Cimilluca’s mad dash to the net, assisted secondarily by Reed Robinson.

The Rebels wouldn’t let the game go quietly however, as in the final seconds of play, Alex Frye cycled the puck to Luke Radetic, who found Carson Moniz crashing on the back door for the Rebels third power play goal of the game.

The 7-3 final was more lopsided than the balance of play, but the loss still counts as the Knights third-straight defeat. They will look to bounce back tonight at home against the Rebels once more with puck drop at 7:30 pm EST. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and follow along on Twitter and Instagram at @wbsknights.

Series Recap: Knights Take Two of Three from Generals

On a busy weekend for the Knights, the program’s NAHL team hosted three games against the Northeast Generals, their standing neighbors in the East division.

Saturday

Game one took place Saturday after weather forced Friday’s contest to be moved to Monday. The evening affair started quickly, with the Knights on the attack courtesy of a pair of power plays generated in the opening minutes of the first. Though the Knights were kept at bay by Northeast netminder Marko Sturma, the chances created served as a springboard into a high-tempo forecheck for much of the remainder of the game.

Despite the early dosage of shots against, the Generals picked up their attack in the second half of the frame, repeatedly testing Christian Stoever in goal for the Knights. Though the 2000-born goaltender would make 11 first-period saves, Northeast would finally break through at 17:42 when Alex Cohen beat Stoever on a wraparound to the left post (Matthew Rutigliano, Sviatoslov Kuchynski).

Determined to leave their scoring slump in February, the Knights broke into the scoring column quickly in the second. Joey Verkerke initiated a two-on-one for Jack Olmstead and Mike Gelatt into Northeast territory where Olmstead found Gelatt in the right circle where he ripped a perfect shot past the glove of Sturma to even the score at one.

The Generals provided a response just over 60 seconds later, when Louis Boudon sprung free in the slot to re-direct Colin Bilek’s point shot past Stoever. Jeff Skinner picked up the secondary assist to put the Generals back ahead by one.

Stoever would do well in the second to stave off further Generals momentum,  making a few sterling saves to keep the Northeast lead to just a single goal.

Just prior to the halfway point of the period, Mike Gelatt would again find himself on an odd-man rush, this time accompanied by Reed Robinson. The pair would play catch as they gained the Northeast blue line before Robinson roofed a perfect shot from the left circle to once again bring the Knights even.

In the  third, Northeast would jump ahead again, this time via a Cam Gaudette laser from the far circle, set up by Matt Demelis and Justin Jallen. The tally was Guadette’s first in the NAHL, and gave Northeast momentum that would carry through the first half of the third stanza.

As time ticked away, Stoever would again deny several strong chances from the Generals attack, to keep the Knights within striking distance of the deficit.

At 12:46 his efforts were rewarded with yet another Knights equalizer. On a controversial play in which Sturma was contacted in the Generals crease, Mike Gelatt willed the puck on goal, creating a rebound that Matt Kidney buried to knot the game at three. Despite a long conference by officials, the goal was allowed to stand.

60 minutes would prove to be not enough time for either side to emerge victorious. In the three-on-three overtime period, Stoever and company denied an early Generals push before taking over possession for the majority of the five-minute span. Marko Sturma came up with his best save of the game late in the frame when he fell backward on Adrian Danchenko’s shot in close to somehow preserve the tie. At the next horn, the score remained even at three, sending the contest into the shootout.

Neither goalie flinched through the first two rounds, but Louis Boudon scored in the top of the third to provide the potential game-winning tally. The Knights sent out captain Curtis Carlson in a do-or-die scenario to try to force a fourth round. The veteran forward responded by firing a perfect shot past Sturma that went bar-down to move the showdown onto yet another round.

In the fourth, Brian Chambers was turned back by Stoever, while Reed Robinson had the puck roll off his blade on what looked like a game-winning move to beat Sturma. Matt Demelis was stoned in the fifth bringing on Matt Kidney for the Knights.

The veteran winger raced down the ice before burying the walk-off wrister over Sturma’s shoulder, sending the Knights home with two points, maintaining their slim lead over Northeast for third place in the East division.

Sunday

In the middle game of the series, the Knights attempted to channel the rush of Saturday’s shootout victory into another two points on Sunday. There to spoil the party was Generals goalie David Fessenden. The hulking ’98 has long tormented Knights scorers since coming to Northeast midway through last season.

At 6-5, Fessenden was in his usual form against the Knights early and never let his performance falter. After weathering a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton surge in the first half of the opening period, the Generals erupted for four goals in the final 7:32.

The first came from Matthew Rutigliano off assists from Sviastoslov Kuchynski and Ryan Rowland just shy of the 12:30 mark. Justin Jallen followed that with a power play snipe at 13:51, with Kuchynski again supplying the primary helper, while Brady Guadette picked up the secondary.

The Gaudette family continued rolling as Brady’s brother Cam found the net for the second-consecutive game less than 30 seconds later, off set ups from Mike Egan and Matt Demelis.

Demelis would cap the dominant stretch with a rifle of a wrist shot that squeaked through Christian Stoever’s pads at 17:54, after the Northeast forward was able to get behind the Knights last line of defense (MIchael Higgins, Brian Chambers).

After regrouping in the first intermission, the Knights came out in the second with better resolve. David Tomeo replaced Stoever in net and stopped 20 shots without allowing a single goal over the final two periods of play. In that same stretch, the Knights pushed back well, but not enough to rattle their nemesis in net in Fessenden.

Michael Morrissey would supply the lone tally of the second period, his tenth of the season, after Adrian Danchenko barreled through bodies down the right half-wall to find Morrissey open in the slot. Tom Farrell picked up the secondary assist on the goal at 8:27. The next marker wouldn’t come until 14:21 in the third, when Mike Gelatt collected his second score of the weekend off assists from Jack Olmstead and Tom Farrell. The late strike would provide the Knights confidence, enough to pull Tomeo with just over four minutes to play.

The bold strategy would be hindered by a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton penalty about a minute and a half later, forcing Tomeo back to the crease. Once the Knights cleared the zone they again pulled their goalie to the bench, but on this try Northeast quickly capitalized, with Justin Jallen putting home the easy power play, empty net goal at 18:50 (Brady Gaudette, Ryan Rowland). When the clock struck zero, the Knights were beaten 5-2.

Monday

With each side having recorded a victory, plus an additional Generals point due to their shootout loss in game one, Monday’s contest saw just a single point separate the third-place Knights and fourth-place Generals. With standing and future playoff implications at stake, the early play belonged to each of the starting goaltenders; David Fessenden for the Generals and Christian Stoever, back in net for the Knights.

With 18 shots between sides stopped in the first, the first tally would serve as a major boost for whichever offense could end the scoring drought in the second. For the first time in the three-game series, it would be the Knights that would find the game’s first goal.

Matt Kidney, who scored the game-tying goal plus the shootout winner on Saturday, kept his hot streak rolling with his 15th strike of the season at 10:58. Justin Engelkes kicked off one of the best offensive sequences the Knights have had on any shift all season. The Miami of Ohio commit jarred a puck free at the top of the Generals zone where he leveled a Northeast player with a clean check just under the blue line. The loose biscuit bounced its way over to Tyrone Bronte who deftly maneuvered through Northeast’s traffic before sending a beautiful pass to an open Kidney in front for the emphatic score.

Despite the strong execution, the Generals wouldn’t go quietly in the second. Jeff Skinner played a Louis Boudon rebound off the back wall perfectly to beat Stoever with a heavy shot at 14:30 in the second. Colin Bilek recorded the secondary assist on the game-tying goal.

By all appearances it looked as if the third period was building up for another hotly contested finish and perhaps another one that would need overtime. Instead, the Knights assembled what could be considered their most dominant period of the season.

After two months in which consistency has eluded the Knights and what was for much of the season, a high-powered offense, the floodgates opened in Monday’s third period.

Just under a minute in, after collecting a pass form Adrian Danchenko, Mike Morrissey slid Reed Robinson a perfect cross-slot feed where Robinson was able to poke an easy goal home. The tally was his 17th of the season, moving him into second on the list of Knights goal scorers.

Just over six minutes later, Tom Farrell forced a turnover at the top of the Generals zone and fed it to Jack Olmstead. The East Division Star of the Week’s lead pass found Curtis Carlson alone in front of Fessenden where the Knights captain made a nifty move to go bar-down for the 3-1 lead.

In a period in which the Knights relentless forecheck out-shot the Generals 22-2, David Fessenden did the best he could to keep the game within comeback distance for Northeast. His play didn’t allow the Knights to run away with the contest, but for their part Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would not allow any time or room for the Generals to mount a comeback at even-strength.

Under siege in their own zone for much of the final period, things slipped further away from the Generals late when their lone power play of the frame resulted in as many shots against as it did for. It was cut short by 26 seconds when Northeast was called for too-many-men during a line change. The result saw Fessenden pulled with under two minutes remaining to make the 5-on-4 a 5-on-5 with an empty net.

The Knights foiled the approach with just under a minute to play when Jack Olmstead hopped on a puck at the top of the Generals zone and skated it to the empty cage for the easy empty-net, power play score. The goal iced the contest, bringing the Knights their second win of the weekend and fortifying their third place lead to three points, with a now 6-2-1 record against the Generals in the season head-to-head.

Looking forward to this weekend, the Knights will take on the first-place Philadelphia Rebels this weekend with two games on the road. The first will take place at the Class of 1923 arena on Friday, March 9th at 7:10 PM EST. The Knights will then travel to the Wells Fargo Center the next night to play the Rebels in a special regular season contest on the home ice of the Philadelphia Flyers at 5:30 PM EST. Visit this link for more details on tickets for Saturday’s game! Both games will be streamed on hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for further news and updates!