Tag Archives: Thomas Walker

Preview: EHL 2019 Frozen Finals

For the first time in franchise history, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights’ Eastern Hockey League team will play in the EHL Frozen Finals. Of the 18 teams in the league, just four remain to play for the championship banner this week. For the second consecutive year, the EHL Frozen Finals will be held at Schneider Arena, home to the NCAA Division III-Providence College hockey team.

The Knights will be viewed as underdogs, given they’re the only team to make it that didn’t win their division during the regular season. So far, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has played five playoff games. They made their way through the New York Apple Core by sweeping the North Division foe in round one. Next, a decisive game three would go the way of the Knights against the division champion-New Jersey 87’s, taking the final game of the series by a 3-2 score.

With the other three finalists earning a bye through round one thanks to winning their division in seasonal play, the Knights have played at least two more games than the rest of the pack so far this postseason. Here’s the finalists and the regular season records of said teams:

Philadelphia Little Flyers: 40-3-1
New Hampshire Avalanche: 39-6
East Coast Wizards: 29-12-3
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights: 27-13-4

The Knights kicked off their regular season against the Wizards and finished the campaign facing the Avalanche. The grey and blue earned season splits in two game sets with both teams, while the Little Flyers got the better end of the Knights, taking both meetings the teams had back in December.

With the lowest record and only non-divisional winner in the finals being the Knights, it’s easy to say they are the “on paper” underdog. That said, Head Coach Josh Fusco’s group was able to find another gear toward the end of the season to catapult them this far.

After losing four in a row between late December and early January, the Knights haven’t lost consecutive games since. The club had a season-high 10 game winning streak that came to an end against New Hampshire at the end of the year. After that, they won four of five playoff games to make it to Providence.

In the last 20 games (including playoffs), the EHL Knights have gone
17-2-1. The team has dominated in scoring over that stretch, with a cushioned 83-47 differential. The returning Anthony Starzi was the heaviest contributor for that, scoring 13 goals in that stretch of play, while goaltender Thomas Walker contributed to the smaller number, thanks to a 2.55 goals against average and a .925 save percentage over the course of the season. Hunter Bersani led his team in points with 48 in 43 regular season games. He and Chatham University commit, Matt Mood have both scored three goals and six points in the playoffs thus far to lead their squad.

The journey took 49 games, but the Knights have arrived in Providence. Their first opponent comes Thursday night when they take on the defending EHL Champions, the New Hampshire Avalanche. The team will play three games in as many days, hoping to earn a berth in the championship game Sunday afternoon. Catch all of the Frozen Finals live on HockeyTV.

PROVIDENCE BOUND

Knights punch their ticket to 2019 Frozen Finals

In a deciding game three, Johnny Jackson and Anthony Starzi scored 19 seconds apart during the middle period, while Thomas Walker held down the crease to protect a 3-2 lead over the New Jersey 87’s. The Knights would take the best-of-three series, 2-1, and now will advance  to the 2019 Eastern Hockey League Frozen Finals at Providence College March 21st. It’s the first appearance the Knights will make in the final four group of the EHL.

After winning game one by a 3-2 margin, Wilkes-Barre fell on the wrong end of a 4-1 decision, making game three on Sunday inevitable. The team got off to a strong start with Zach Ouladelhadjamed finding his way through 87’s goalie, Dalton Jerzak for the 1-0 lead less than four minutes in. New Jersey would respond  with Jack Lane beating Thomas Walker to tie it before the period came to a close. There was debate on whether the puck went in off a high-stick, but officials negated the argument from Knights Head Coach Josh Fusco and the goal stood.

In their 44 regular season games, the grey and blue scored 71 goals in the middle period. That was over 20 goals more than either of their first or third period totals. At Middletown Ice World on a Sunday evening, the team’s second period magic came once more.

11:40 in, Matthew Bielinski went behind the net where he then found Johnny Jackson in front of the goal. The pass connected and Jackson roofed the puck top shelf for his second of the playoffs. Just 19 seconds later, Anthony Starzi scored his second of the postseason. After the Knights won the draw in center, the team marched into the zone and quickly sent Starzi to the net where he knocked it through for the 3-1 lead.

Down by a pair, the 87’s put their best period together in the third, which saw a game-high 19 shots go to the net of Walker. Zach Egber was able to cut the deficit in half midway through the period with a goal on the doorstep, but that would be the final goal of the game. New Jersey had Jerzak pulled for the final two minutes, where the club threw as many pucks on goal as possible. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton struggled to clear and go the other way, but the EHL’s best goalie all season long was able to showcase his talents. The Albertus Magnus committed-Walker made 38 saves, including a Zach Tarantino breakaway late in the game to propel the Knights to Providence.

After 49 games since mid-September, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will join the New Hampshire Avalanche, Philadelphia Little Flyers, and East Coast Wizards  on the campus of Providence College for the hopes of raising the EHL Championship. The Knights were also the only team to advance without winning their division and receiving a first round bye.

The Frozen Finals run March 21-24. All games will be broadcast live on HockeyTV.

 

EHL Recap: Knights Open Season with Point, But Shootout Loss

The Knights opened their EHL season Wednesday with a road game against the East Coast Wizards. Things got off to a good start when late in the first, Johnny Jackson broke up a point pass in his own zone. The 2000-born forward raced down the ice on a breakaway before besting Wizards netminder Kevin Dacey for the 1-0 lead.

Trent Pitser would come back with the equalizer at the 3:44 mark of the second period for East Coast, when the forward took a pass from defenseman Patrick Rossetti and put it by Knights starter Thomas Walker.

Following a dust up between players for both sides that resulted in a Knights power play, the Wizards drew up some shorthanded magic late in the second, as Harris Colvin beat Walker off assists from Isaac Leslie and Luke Pepin.

Deny Arkhypenko would respond for Wilkes-Barre to open the third, scoring almost immediately after the opening faceoff to even the game at two. That’s where the score would stay for the remainder of regulation and overtime as both Walker and Dacey refused to blink.

In the shootout, James Nash would score for the Wizards on a slick deke in round one, only to be matched by Johnny Jackson going fiver for the Knights. Round two saw Isaac Leslie rip a goal through for the Wizards to take the 2-1 lead. Kevin Dacey shut the door on the Knights final two shots to secure the victory.

In the loss, Thomas Walker was excellent, stopping 34 of 36 shots. The Knights will look to bounce back tomorrow morning at 10:45 am eastern when they face the Seahawks Hockey Club at the Tony Kent Arena in Massachusetts. Tune in on hockeytv.com!

Knights Goalie Thomas Walker Commits to Albertus Magnus College

Thomas Walker is getting ready to start his second season with the Knights organization, but before the season’s first puck drop, the goalie announced some exciting news. Starting in the fall of 2019, Walker will join the Albertus Magnus Falcons in their inaugural season playing NCAA DIII hockey.

“I like the atmosphere-it’s right around Yale and Quinnipiac, so it’s a good college town,” said Walker of his future home. “The people are great, the head coach, the assistant coach, they’re just nice people, great people. To visit a school and find out it’s a small school-that’s what I was interested in because that’s the kind of high school I went to. Everything about the college just kinda sucked me in and I fell in love with it.”

Located in southern Connecticut, Albertus Magnus recently gained approval to join NCAA Division III hockey as an independent school in 2019-20. Kyle Wallack will man the bench after serving as an assistant coach for the University of Vermont.  Wallack has coached the past 21 years primarily as an at NCAA Division I level, along with stops along the way in DIII, the ACHA and USHL.

“With it being a new program it just excited me to be part of a start, setting the groundwork for them to be successful for many years to come,” said Walker. “Hopefully we’ll be in the record books getting the first winning season and being a part of all that interesting stuff.”

Walker spent his first year of junior hockey as the backstop in 28 games for the Knights. He recorded a 2.86 goals against average and a .899 save percentage in the 2017-18 regular season.

“I think it helped me playing against older competition,” said Walker of his first season in the EHL. “It made me have to adjust, get stronger and faster because everybody shoots harder and moves quicker and passes are crisper and everything just moves at a higher speed. I’ve just had to adjust to that, and hopefully with another year under my belt, I’ll be even more prepared and be able to just keep improving.”

What can Falcons fans expect from their future goalie?

“I’m a battler,” he said. “That’s my big thing. I’m never gonna give up. I’ve kinda learned more and more as we keep going that you just have to battle and keep going. I’m not the quickest, not the biggest, but I’ll definitely battle from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, all season long. I’m not going to complain about anything. I’m ready to play whenever, wherever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m just going to battle.”

“The best way start to training camp when you have players reporting already committing to school,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “It goes to show the success were having here with our players and more importantly it shows they trust the process.”

For all his growth in his first season with the Knights, it says a lot about Walker that his favorite memories are not individual highlights, but ones belonging to last year’s fellow goalie, Jared Stahel, along with another team accomplishment from 2017-18.

“My favorite would probably be the December showcase last year,” he said. “We were just starting to hit our stride. We were able to play well enough to beat the Avs, then Stahel got the first team shutout against the Wolves going into Christmas break so we were on a nice little hot streak beating the eventual champions and then getting the first shutout for the team so that was a good start. Kinda went on a streak there and got a little hot, so that was probably my favorite memory so far.”

For all that lies ahead, Walker isn’t looking too far beyond the upcoming season with the Knights in the EHL. His sights are set firmly on  improving on his consistency before heading off to school.

“I want to be better for the length of the whole year. Last year, I thought I had a pretty slow start, and then a decent middle, and then slowed down again at the end. I’m looking to have a complete season and go farther in the playoffs than we did.”

“I’m really excited for Walks,” said Fusco. “It’s pretty awesome because it shows the dedication he has put in to his game, the dedication he has to our program and more importantly how he has trusted the process over the past year with his development.”

Ever the team player, Walker was quick to thank those who have made his commitment a reality.

“Definitely a big thanks to my family for all their support and my friends back home for helping me grinding through this junior year, being supportive. Obviously thanks to the Knights organization and everything they’ve done, coach Fusco for helping me improve, and my teammates for playing well enough in front of me to get a college interested in me, so just a big thanks to everyone that’s helped.”

The Knights  congratulate Thomas on his well-deserved college commitment and look forward to his upcoming season and rooting for him in his future hockey career and beyond!

 

EHL: Knights Thwarted by Revniaga, Allard-Robitaille in Game 1

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

Friday marked game one of the Knights EHL postseason, the first of a best-of-three series with the New York Applecore. A pitched first period saw starting goalies Thomas Walker and Benjamin Allard-Robitaille trade a flurry of saves, while each offense could only muster a goal per side.

The first tally came at the 15:45 mark of the opening frame, when Tyler Watungwa and William Case combined to set up Emerson Emery on a power play goal.

The early Knights lead would prove to be short-lived, as on a 5-on-3 power play, New York drew even off the efforts of Tanner Dalton, from Mark Revniaga and Kyle Warren.

The stalemate would continue into the second where Walker and Allard-Robitaille would again stymie the opposition, with the pair making a combined 42 saves in the first 40 minutes of play.

Though the Knights would own the larger share of chances on net, leading shots 27-18 after two, it would be Applecore that would secure the only score of the second period. At 16:24, Joseph Verboys cleaned up the loose change from Mark Revniaga’s crash to the net to give New York their first lead of the game. Elliot Friedow would collect the secondary assist on the tally.

Revniaga would continue to be a catalyst for the Applecore, as he scored the game’s next goal early in the third period. His third point of the night came off the inverse of the prior goal where Friedow supplied the primary with help from Verboys’ secondary to best Walker at 6:24.

The Knights efforts to climb back were continually stunted by Allard-Robitaille in net, as the ’99 from Quebec carried his team with 35 saves on 36 shots.

Matthew Boring put home an empty-net goal (Race Bennett) in the final minute of play to give the Applecore the 4-1 win in game one. The two teams will meet again Saturday at 5:40 pm EST. Tune in on hockeytv.com and follow along at www.easternhockeyleague.org!

EHL: Knights Lose to Revolution, Clinch 5th Seed in Playoffs

Photo: EHL

On Friday, the Knights hosted the Philadelphia Revolution for the pair’s final meeting of the 2017-18 regular season. Both teams entered play looking to leap a spot upward in the South Conference playoff standings. It would be Philadelphia that would hit the ground running in their third-to-last game of the season.

Just 3:30 into the opening frame, Jake Faulkner fired a point shot through traffic to beat Thomas Walker for the game’s first goal (Martin Kapoian). A second Philly tally would appear to be scored several minutes later, only to be disallowed when the play was blown dead for a Revolution penalty as the puck was shot on net.

The Knights would take advantage of the call to push back against Philadelphia, but despite speed through all zones, they struggled to solve Peter Ciccarelli. The 6’5″ goaltender stood down the Knights early offerings to keep Wilkes-Barre/Scranton off the board in the opening 20 minutes.

Just after the expiration of a penalty late in the first, Philadelphia found their second goal of the afternoon off Hayden Ford’s feed to Justin Meers, who fired a winding puck past Walker for the 2-0 lead.

30 seconds later Ford initiated a successful breakout which Jake Faulkner and Kyle Bradley turned into a fast break to the net. Faulkner slid the puck past the last line of the Knights backcheck to an open Bradley in the low slot, who promptly slammed the puck home for the Revolution’s third goal.

After their even play gave way late in the first, the Knights entered the second with jump in their effort to mount a comeback. Penalties would slow progress as calls piled on top of one another to create multiple power play, 4-on-4, and even 4-on-3 opportunities for each side.

After he was tripped on a breakaway during one stretch of 4-on-4 play, Philadelphia’s Bryce Witman floated a knuckling puck over the shoulder of Walker on the ensuing power play (Brian Lange) to put the Revolution up 4-0.

The Knights would finally crack the scoreboard on a power play of their own just minutes later, when Emerson Emery’s point shot was re-directed to the twine by Nate Chuckran. William Case would record the secondary assist on the score.

The momentum swing would be brief. On the ensuing shift, Tommy Donnelly fired his first goal of his Revolution career through a blocked shot and a screen for the 5-1 lead.

A quick Austin Morgan tally in the opening six minutes of third, combined with Ciccarelli’s stellar play in the crease gave Philadelphia a comfortable cushion through the remainder of the contest. The Knights pushed hard in the final frame, mounting 21 shots and several strong looks on net, but were undone by the Revolution’s steady defense.

Entering play four points behind a possible home-ice advantage through round one of the playoffs, the Knights loss with just one game to play locks them into the fifth seed of the South Conference. They will host the Philadelphia Junior Flyers today at 2:30 pm EST, before preparing for the playoffs and their round one meeting with the New York Applecore.

Catch all the action on hockeytv.com and stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and @WBSKnightsEHL on Twitter for all news and updates!

EHL: Knights Bounce Back to Split Weekend with Oilers

Photo: EHL

On Sunday, the Knights took their second try at besting the Connecticut Oilers following their 4-2 loss Saturday. In round two, it was Connecticut that would provide the game’s first tally. Ryan Brand hammered a shot through Thomas Walker just shy of the halfway point of the first period (Ryan Kheir, Kieran Kennedy).

In their second showdown in as many days, Walker and Olof Djurberg continued their steady play as the pair fended off extended possessions in front of their respective creases. The Knights penalty kill also flexed its discipline as it failed to allow a goal in three first-period chances. At the first 20 minutes’ conclusion, the Oilers would hold a slim lead in a hard-fought first period.

The Knights were quick to draw even to open the second. After Djurberg denied three solid chances from the Knights, a fourth found the stick of Tyler Watungwa in front of the net for the tip-in equalizer. The goal came as a byproduct of assists from William Case and Tyler Nielsen, but was born out of a strong forecheck and puck-movement by all five Knights in the attacking zone.

Though both offenses created solid opportunities throughout the middle frame, it took most of the period for either attack to finish on said chances. At 18:13, Connecticut re-took the lead on Val Serdlov’s third goal of the weekend, set up by Kennedy and Keegan Lewis.

The lead would last all of 97 seconds, as in the final minute of the second period, Nate Chuckran fired a shot on goal that leaked through the pads of Djurberg to even the game once more.

The late-period score paved the way for more Knights momentum in the third. Just over a minute and a half in, Emerson Emery collected a Chuckran feed and pushed it home to provide Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with its first lead of the game.

Connecticut would force a golden opportunity to answer after their heavy play drew two Knights penalties just past the 5:00 point of the period. With 1:46 of 5-on-3 time, The Oilers were kept at bay by Thomas Walker’s heady play in net and the penalty kill’s sound positioning, moving the Knights to a perfect 5/5 shorthanded performance on the afternoon.

The cancellation of both penalties catapulted the Knights into the period’s final minutes with a one-goal lead. With the net empty, the Oilers applied strong pressure down the home stretch, but could not solve Walker, who made 42 saves on the day. When the clock hit zero, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton skated off with a 4-2 victory.

The team will next be in action on Saturday, February 24th when the Knights play host to the Philadelphia Junior Flyers. Puck drop is at 3:45 pm EST and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com, www.easternhockeyleague.org, and Knights social media on Facebook (WBS Knights Hockey), Twitter (@WBSKnightsEHL), and Instagram (@wbsknights) to stay up to date with the latest news and happenings!

EHL: Knights Drop Game 1 Against Oilers

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

The context of Friday’s match up between the Knights and Oilers saw two teams battling for playoff position as the EHL season winds closer to its finish. Entering play Saturday, the Knights trailed the New York Applecore for fourth in the South Conference while the Oilers had the opportunity to hop the sixth-place Junior Flyer’s after their loss earlier in the day.

The Knights struck first on the evening when Tyler Nielsen found a puck from Rhett Padgett and ripped it past Oilers goalie Olof Djurberg just three minutes into the first.

The Oilers would respond just past the halfway point of the period with numbers even on a 4-on-4. Val Sverdlov kicked off a big performance when he beat Thomas Walker to even the game at one (Zach Withington, Ian Wallgren).

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would counter in the last minute of the period when Cody Rumsey picked up a nifty pass from Tyler Watungwa and flipped it home to give the Knights a 2-1 lead.

The early stages of the second period were dictated by a penalty per side, though neither team could capitalize. Both goalies stopped shorthanded rushes as each penalty-and power play-escaped without allowing a goal.

At 13:53 Sverdlov would even the game once more when his sharp-angle shot navigated its way by Walker off a feed from Ryan Brand. The period wound down with both Walker and Djurberg stoning the opposition and sending the contest to the third with the score gridlocked at two.

In the last stanza, the Oilers finally grabbed their first lead following Peter Capone’s goal at 7:50 (Fabian Zuccarello). The Knights would supply ample pressure in their attempt to tie the game, but Djurberg would prove a wall in net, stopping 15 shots in the third period.

The only glitch in the the Swedish goalie’s performance was disallowed after Bryan Whelan appeared to tie the game not long after Capone’s go-ahead score, only to see it waved off by the officials.

After each team traded an unsuccessful power play in the final 5:35, the Knights pulled Walker for the extra attacker with under a minute to play. Connecticut did well in clogging up neutral ice and in the final seconds, Tyler Lapshanski fired a puck into the open net to seal the 4-2 Oilers win.

The Knights will look to bounce back in a rematch with Connecticut at 12:30 PM EST today. Tune in on hockeytv.com or follow along on twitter @WBSKnightsEHL!

EHL: Knights Fall to Seahawks

The third and final contest of the Knights weekend saw the team travel to Hyannis, Massachusetts to take on the Total Athletics Seahawks. In the teams’ second meeting of the season, the Knights got out to an early start.

Just 6:24 into the opening period, Tyler Watungwa recorded his seventh goal of the season after Bryan Whelan found him in front of Seahawks starter Brandon Collett for the 1-0 lead.

A testy first would set the tone for a chippy day of hockey. Just past the halfway point of the period, both William Case of the Knights and Austin Johnson of the Seahawks were handed game misconducts.

Despite losing a reliable blue-liner early, the Knights were able stay even and even carry play through most of the remainder of the frame. The Seahawks reversed the trend with an explosive final two minutes of the period.

At 18:05 the Seahawks would tie the game off Braxton Walby’s third goal of the season. Walby beat Knights starter Thomas Walker on a rebound following a solid set up from Derric Trudeau and Korey Muzzy.

Just over a minute later, Walby would come right back down the ice and bury a power play rebound to give his team their first lead of the game (Alex Friend, Matthew Stewart).

The middle stanza saw its pace grind to a temporary crawl as the pair of teams combined for 26 minutes of time spent in the box. Two of those penalties would bite the Knights as on a 5-on-3 advantage at 9:56, the Seahawks would add their third goal. John Banovetz would get the last deflection on a puck fired in by Cory Ellerton, assisted by Kolton Smith.

As time ticked away, the Knights found themselves frustrated by Brandon Collett’s savvy play in net (38 saves). Thomas Walker answered with a strong 41 save performance of his own, but the Knights offense never found its rhythm. A scoreless third period that saw the Knights spend the final three and a half minutes killing off a 5:00 major sealed the 3-1 win for the Seahawks.

The Knights will continue their attempt to climb upward in the South Conference playoff seeding with a two-game series against the Connecticut Oilers this weekend. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is two points out of fourth place in the conference with five regular season games to go. To stay up to date with Knights news stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and follow our twitter (@WBSKnightsEHL), Facebook (WBS Knights Hockey), and Instagram (@WBSKnights).

EHL: Knights Drop Road Contest in Walpole

Photo: EHL.com

On Saturday the Knights took on the Walpole Express for their second head-to-head of the season. The game started slowly, with each side registering single-digit shots through the first. The lone goal of the opening frame came off the stick of Trevor Pray, who buried a rebound past Thomas Walker off the set up Josh Grasson and Bryan Colburn.

In the second, the Express erupted for three goals in just over minutes of play between the 6:00 and 10:36 marks. The first tally came when Pray notched his second goal of the afternoon, when and Josh Grasso came into Knights territory on an odd-man rush set up by Bryan Colburn. Pray bested Walker at 6:03 to build a 2-0 Walpole lead.

Following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed to the Express following the score, Walpole went right back down the ice on a power play turnover by the Knights. Following a perfect exit pass from Cam Sullivan, Bryan Colburn buried a goal of his own on the shorthanded break, giving his team a 3-0 lead at 6:56. At 10:36 Sullivan wold rotate into the goal column when his shot found its way through traffic to beat Walker. Assists on the tally were credited to Chris Gratton and Colburn.

After regathering themselves in the second half of the second period, the Knights rallied to create some life in the third as they went on to score the next two goals. At 3:45, Jake Nimeh picked up his fifth goal of the year off an assist from Emerson Emery to cut the deficit to 4-1.

The Express buckled down behind the efforts of their goalie Max Flynn, who fended off 11 shots in the period, keeping the Knights comeback at bay for the better portion of the third.

Emery would break through again for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, picking up a power play goal at 17:03, with Austin Weber and Nate Chuckran grabbing assists on the play. With the goal and the earlier assist, Emery has now scored three goals and three assists in his last four games.

Walpole would put any thought of any further rally to bed however when Chris Peters put home the Express’ fifth goal at 18:22 (Tyler Pietrzyk. At the final horn, the Knights would take the 5-2 loss.

The team will look to bounce back against the Total Athletics Seahawks at 2:00 PM EST today. The game will be available on hockeytv.com. Follow @WBSKnightsEHL on Twitter for in-game updates!