Tag Archives: Tier-III Hockey

Michael Morrissey Commits to Colby College

One of the longest-tenured Knights is heading off to college. Michael Morrissey, a 20-year old forward and veteran of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hockey program since its second season, announced his decision to attend Colby College this weekend. He’ll join former Knights forward Joe Schuler as on the roster for the 2018-19 season.

An assistant captain and veteran presence, Morrissey is in the midst of his finest season of junior hockey, recording 11 goals and 17 assists through 54 games played. Coincidentally, the Colby Mules are in the midst of one of their best seasons in their proud history, playing out of the NESCAC Conference in NCAA DIII hockey.

The Mules made waves around the hockey world last Saturday night, when they bested the Geneseo Ice Knights in the final second of regulation to move onto the Frozen Four. That same night, Morrissey scored the game-tying goal, before providing the screen on the game-winner for his Knights against the New Jersey Titans.

“I really liked the coaching staff,” said Morrissey. “Coach Hall, their assistant coach did a great job recruiting me. Blaise MacDonald, the head coach, spent a long time coaching in Hockey East, and has a few national championships to his name. Colby has top-of-the line academics and highly-competitive hockey, so it’s the best of both worlds for me.”

The Mules will travel to Lake Placid this weekend to vie for their first-ever national title, taking on St. Norbert at 6:30 pm EST this Friday. The winner of that contest will play Saturday in the National Championship against the winner of Salve Regina’s and Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s competition earlier in the afternoon. The aforementioned MacDonald has led the Mules to their first NCAA Frozen Four berth since 1996, when then coach Jim Tortorella-brother of John-came up just short of achieving the program’s ultimate goal.

“I’ve been following their run over the past few weeks,” said Morrissey. “It’s pretty exciting-their guys are talking about spending spring break in Lake Placid. It’s really cool to see them make the final four.”

The Knights in the meantime are preparing for a postseason run of their own, having clinched a playoff spot this past weekend. They can enter the playoffs as high as the second seed in the East Division should they finish the year on a strong note.

“I think some of our guys were in a bit of a slump to start the second half, but we’ve returned to playing simple hockey lately,” he said. “We went back to the basics, getting pucks on net and we’ve been able to find some success. We’re looking to carry that into our series with Northeast this weekend.”

Hockey has been a whirlwind ride for Morrissey, a native of nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who’s played with and against NHL talent to develop his own strong skill-set.

“I would say I bring it every night,” he said. “I play an intense, two-way game, and I think I’m a play-making center. I’ve played a lot of years here and each one has been special. I won a national championship with our team in 2012, so that ranks high on the list for me in terms of best memories, but this last year has been great.”

With a high number of players committed to college from this year’s roster, Knights head coach Tom Kowal is thrilled to see the fruits of the program’s efforts result in so many player advancements, but Morrissey’s is one that has been a long time coming.

“Mike’s been here longer than I have,” laughed Kowal. “He’s been a member of some special teams here at the youth and junior level. He’s also played a big part in why the teams he played on were successful. Mike’s a hard-worker and one of the toughest players to play against I have ever coached. He brings a great two-way game to the ice, and it doesn’t matter who we put on his wing, that player gets better next to him. We’ve leaned on him heavily this year and just like you saw against the Titans Saturday, he’s capable of delivering in the biggest moments for us.”

With the final games of his junior career ahead, and college on the way, Morrissey wants to leave the Knights on a high note, but he’s not overlooking those who helped him along the way.

“I have a bunch of people that deserve a shout out, and a lot of special memories having played here,” said Morrissey. “Of course, I want to thank my family and parents for supporting me all this time. My billet family, the Latimers, for taking me in and making me part of their family. I want to thank our coaching staff with the Knights-TK and Whitey have done a lot to help me, and our owner, Dr. DeNaples, for supporting me all the way back to youth hockey and always looking out for my best interests.”

“I’m proud of Mike and the progress he’s made in his career,” said Kowal. “It will be a different place without him, but it’ll be for the best reasons. I’ll be cheering him on as he takes his next step with Colby in hockey and in life.”

The entire Knights organization thanks Mike for his hard work and the many years he’s put in with the program. They will be rooting him on with full confidence that big things lie ahead both in hockey and the world beyond.

EHL: Knights Wrap up Week with 7-6 OT Win

Photo Credit: Jessica Kovalcin

Sunday afternoon saw 2017-2018’s first meeting of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Philadelphia Junior Flyers at the Revolution Ice Centre. Following a shootout win in Philadelphia’s building last night, the Knights looked to duplicate their success and finish a long week off on a three-game winning streak.

The home team got off the the right start as Jake Fuss lifted the Knights to a 1-0 lead just 1:30 into the opening frame, set up by Anthony Starzi and Denys Arkhypenko. The Junior Flyers responded at 7:34 when Connor Leneghan tacked on an even-strength goal from Drew Platt.

With the score even at one, Fuss rallied the Knights power play unit just after time expired on their advantage, crashing through the slot and putting his own rebound home to regain the lead at 12:23.  Two minutes and 20 seconds later, Anthony Starzi continued his stellar weekend with  a snipe from the slot on an excellent feed from Peck down low in the corner. Peck’s helper extends his point streak to five games. Jake Fuss picked up the secondary assist, for his third point of the period.

The Junior Flyers would not fold, as with under three minutes remaining in the first, Nate Chuckran continued his strong weekend, tipping one past Knights goalie Jared Stahel on a perfect feed from Dennis Ruppe entering the zone.

After the high-scoring opening period, Philadelphia turned to goalie Albin Mulic to take the net in the second, replacing Tyler Sayger. Mulic was welcomed to the ice by Jake Fuss completing a hat trick just 10 seconds into the frame. Anthony Starzi and Denys Arkhypenko picked up another another pair of assists as the trio moved the puck well through the slot to find the twine.

Philadelphia didn’t wait long to answer. On a power play at 4:17, Skyler Thomas tipped a puck past Stahel off a point shot by Brian Seybold, set up by Drew Platt. Just 24 seconds later, the see-saw swung the other way as Tyler Nielsen re-installed the Knights two-goal lead off a shot from the slot, generated by crisp cycling from Rhett Padgett and Chris Petrone.

In a period dominated by penalties, the Knights recent shorthanded struggles reared their head again at 7:33 when Drew Platt beat the Knights kill to pull the Junior Flyers within one. The tally marked Platt’s fifth point in the series. The Junior Flyers man advantage wasn’t done as at 11:43, defenseman Tyler Pohlig tied the game at 5 by ripping a rocket past a screened Stahel set up with Dennis Ruppe’s second assist of the game. For Pohlig, it was his first EHL goal in his first EHL game.

Not satisfied with a hat trick or a  tie, Jake Fuss struck twine for the fourth time at 17:24, set up once more by line mates Arkhypenko and Starzi. With 11 goals between the teams through 40 minutes, the stage was set for more of the high-scoring in the third.

It appeared that the volley of goals would continue after Adrian Martinez tied the game unassisted at 3:45 into the final period of regulation. Instead of following it’s predecessor’s suit, the third period then saw both teams buckle down defensively.  Neither goalie blinked despite each side generating a few quality chances, and Philadelphia slightly carrying play.

The Knights, whose power play had been held scoreless, despite generating solid chances all afternoon, were given a late period boost when the Junior Flyers took a penalty with 2:30 to go.  Consistent with their earlier efforts, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton did line up a few solid chances on net, but couldn’t best Mulic. As the penalty expired, Philadelphia pushed the puck out of their zone to force OT for the second-straight game.

In overtime, the Knights sent out the trio of Jake Fuss, Anthony Starzi and Rhett Padgett looking for two points. After countering a rush into their zone, Fuss swept a puck to Padgett over the left side of the Junior Flyers blue line. Padgett whipped a pass to an open Starzi in the slot, who in turn, picked his spot and buried the puck for the game-winning goal.

With the tally, Starzi has scored twice in each of the last two games and extends a four-game goal and point streak. In the last five days he has picked up seven goals and five assists. Jake Fuss in that same stretch has scored 5-5-10.

Led on this afternoon by Fuss’ 4-2-6 and Starzi’s 2-3-5, the Knights concluded their grueling week with a 3-1 record over their last four games. The team overcame a hard-working Junior Flyers opponent that tested them in almost every way imaginable. Now 7-10-0, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to keep rolling when they take on the Valley Junior Warriors and the New Hampshire Avalanche in a home-and-home split next Saturday and Sunday. Game times will be 2:30 pm EDT and 2:45 pm EDT, respectively. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all team news and updates!

 

Alongside NAHL Program, Knights Excited to Add EHL Affiliate Franchise

The NAHL Knights will be joined by an affiliate EHL franchise with the beginning of the 2017-18 season. Three years ago the Knights boasted one of the EHL’s best rosters. In the 2014-15 season, the team finished with a 28-14-2 record, good for the sixth-best point total in the league. Though the team fell just short of its goal of an EHL Championship, the team sent many players to its NAHL team which made its league debut the following season.

“This is a great opportunity for us to field a team in a competitive tier-III league,” said Knights Director of Hockey Operations Tom Kowal “It will allow us the opportunity to develop players and measure them against quality competition. It will give them the chance to play for our tier-II Knights in the NAHL.”

Last season the Knights had a team in the NA3AHL that acted as an affiliate to the NAHL program, with many of its players skating with the Knights throughout the season.

“We had a lot of guys this past season come up and skate with the NAHL players and make a positive impact,” said Kowal. “Some of them were able to carry that over into games. I think that not only helped us from a team performance standpoint but also helped the players and their development by giving them a real understanding of what it takes to play in a fast, physical league like the NAHL.”

The EHL Knights will be coached by Josh Fusco who’s fresh off directing a team to a championship appearance in the NA3AHL. Several of his players ranked at the very top of the tier-III points list, with a few record-setting performances along the way. Now the coach is focused on making the move to the EHL.

“At this level of hockey, we’re focused on building winning teams, but most importantly we want to help our players improve their game,” said Fusco. “We feel that competing here will give our players not only a chance to make our NAHL team, but also to prepare them for playing in college.”

The Eastern Hockey League has been an excellent junior league that produces dozens of college commitments each year.

“It’s a well-established league,” said Kowal. “Their level of competition is one that is great for preparing players for higher levels of junior and hockey after their junior careers are over.”

The Knights priorities lie with moving their players on to higher levels of hockey. They also are committed to  building  successful rosters.

“We plan on fielding competitive teams,” said Kowal. “The players we roster will be given the opportunity to make the jump to the NAHL. Some of our key contributors in the NAHL this season came through the EHL at one point in their careers.”

Former EHL players on the Knights NAHL roster from this past season included their captain Tim Gelatt, their leading scorer Matt Kidney, a top pair defenseman in Markuss Komuls and scoring, power forward Mike Gelatt.

Last season former members of the EHL Knights, Tanner Bennett, Stephen Kelly and Zach Remers played significant roles in the Knights inaugural NAHL team. All three now play college hockey.

“To have both a tier-II and tier-III program at the same rink as a part of the same organization is a win-win situation,” said Fusco. “I saw it this past year. Some of our best performers from the tier-III team earned some time with the NAHL roster and performed well. That exposure and that incentive really brings out the best in guys. Everyone wants to keep moving up.”

With the EHL addition set to take place this fall, the Knights will spend the late spring and summer actively filling rosters for both their tier-II and tier-III squads and will continue their search for players looking to advance their hockey careers.

The series of offseason camps the Knights will host this summer will be used to fill both their NAHL and EHL rosters. The first camp will take place May 19-21 at the Revolution Ice Centre and is open to anyone born between 1997-2001 to sign up.

Related: Pre-Draft Camp, May 19-21, Revolution Ice Centre

Knights Pre-Draft Camp

-Click Here for Pre-Draft Camp Details

-Click Here for Pre-Draft Camp Sign Up

The second camp will take place at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minnesota from June 16-18. This camp is an open tryout with sign up being available to all 97-01 birth years.

Related: Open Tryout Camp, June 16-18, St. Thomas Ice Arena

Open Minnesota Camp

-Click Here for Tryout Camp Sign Up

The final camp of the offseason will be the Knights Main Camp, taking place at the Revolution Ice Centre July 20-23, and will be invite only.

All questions regarding the NAHL, EHL or camps can be directed to Coach Andrew Whiteside who can be reached at [email protected] or to Coach Josh Fusco at [email protected].

“We want players that want to win and that want to succeed,” said Kowal. “Our organization being a part of these leagues will give them every opportunity to do so, and will make us a better program for it.”

Fresh Off of Record-Setting Season, Fuss Leads Knights Charge into Playoffs

With a full-cage helmet impeding his efforts, it soon joined a discarded pair of gloves on the ice of what would soon become his home for the 2016-17 season. With his equipment out  of the way and his hands raised, Jake Fuss squared up his opponent before exchanging a bout of fists to put a punctuation mark on his performance at Knights main camp. It was with that tenacity that Fuss made a lasting impression with the Knights staff last summer. It’s what continues to stand out to NA3AHL Knights head coach Josh Fusco.

“He has constant go in him and the more you put on him and the harder you push him, he just turns the dial up another notch,” he said. “You can look at Jake on the ice or the bench and you know the kid is ready and chomping at the bit to get right back out there.”

It’s with that same tenacity that Fuss set the tier-III single-season goals scored record last Saturday. The mark had previously been held by Dallas McLaughlin who scored 60 goals for the Marquette Royals of the MNJHL in 2013-14. With a four-goal effort against the Jersey Wildcats Saturday evening, Fuss set the new record at 63. He added two more last Sunday to close out his regular season with 65.

“I was kind of aware of it,” said Fuss on the significance of his Saturday performance. “I didn’t know out there when I scored, but [Josh] Kim and I have been kind of neck and neck all year and following the tier-III stats, so I knew he and I were close. It was kind of cool coming off the ice, learning I had set the record.”

Standing at 6-0 and weighing in at 175, Fuss’ speed and strength on the ice are evident to anyone attending one of his performances. His consistency is too. In 33 games, Fuss tallied goals in 31 of them. 22 of those performances were multi-goal efforts, 10 of which saw him record a hat trick or better. Heading into the playoffs, he carries with him a 19-game goal streak.

“Jake’s game throughout the season has gotten much better; he’s really grasped the concepts myself and the staff have pointed out to him,” said Fusco. “He’s an outstanding player with the puck, the things he’s able to do are eye-opening. When it’s on his stick, you can’t take your eyes off him because you know something is about to happen. It’s not just that though-his battle on the boards and his d-zone are strong. The harder you hit him, the harder he pushes back.”

Beyond the record, the Fairfield, Connecticut native has recorded at least one point in every game he’s played in 2016-17, was the first player drafted for Team Red at the NA3AHL All-Star game and has earned multiple games with the Knights NAHL team. Despite all the individual achievements, Fuss was quick to credit his teammates for his success.

“Between, me, Kim, and Hendrick [Simard], I’ve been part of a line that’s been clicking all year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of chemistry and we’re always able find each other out there on the ice. Josh Kim passed the old goals record last weekend too.”

Kim finished just four goals behind Fuss in regular season play, but recorded three more assists to give him 128 points on the year to the latter’s 129. With Simard’s totals included, the trio combined to accumulate 158 goals, 172 assists and 330 points. Spending most of their ice time alongside one another allowed the line mates to often pace a tremendous Knights forecheck that averaged just over eight goals a game. Through all the numbers, the head coach was equally impressed with his points leader’s attitude.

“It’s something special, what he has,” Fusco said. “His passion for this game and his success with the game are obvious, but mostly Jake is team-first guy. I think that’s something I don’t think people realize because of all his individual success. His work ethic and behavior are just contagious and it brings out the best in his teammates. It’s one of the main reasons why so early on I put a letter on his chest.”

With the Knights set to kick off their NA3AHL postseason tonight against the Exton Bulls, expectations are high. The Knights finished in 2nd place in the NA3AHL’s regular season with a record of 32-4-0, and will take a 14-game winning streak into the playoffs. In six meetings, the Knights swept Exton in convincing manner, but still Fuss maintains a grounded approach.

“I’m nervous heading into the playoffs, but it’s a good nervous,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success against them [Exton] and everybody else this season, but we have to go out there and prove what we’ve all been able to accomplish was no fluke. I think it’s cool I was able to set a record this year, but I want to win a championship. That’s what I’m here for.”