Tag Archives: Tom Farrell

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!

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!

 

Knights Rally Past Titans in St. Patrick’s Day Slugfest

In the third and final act of play on the weekend, the Knights traveled to New Jersey to take on the Titans Saturday night. Following a big home win against the division-leading Rebels, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton looked for more of the same consistency. They didn’t need to wait long for offense.

Just shy of the six minute mark, Tyrone Bronte tipped a Titans exit pass to Adrian Danchenko. The latter wove his way in on net and bested Brandon Perrone for the 1-0 lead.

The Titans would even the score ten minutes later, when Tate Singleton kicked off a big night with a power play goal (Ryan Naumovski, Matthew Cameron).

With starters Perrone and Christian Stoever each stopping 10 of 11 shots in the first, the evening had every appearance of a greasy, defensive-oriented contest. Then the second period happened.

Just 2:50 into the frame, Hunter Alden and Spencer Stanley sprung Tate Singleton for his second goal of the night. The Knights would use the power play to equalize the score. Just past 7:30, Shay Donovan fired a pass to Mike Gelatt, who found Tyrone Bronte, who buried his second goal in as many games to knot the score at two.

Kyle Jeffers fired right back down the ice and cashed in a cross-ice feed from Nick Boyagian just 30 seconds later, re-establishing New Jersey’s lead. Singleton would cap a hat trick less than a minute later to build a 4-2 lead (Zachary Faremouth, Ryan Wheeler).

A subsequent Knights penalty put the Titans in position to place themselves firmly in the driver’s seat. Matt Kidney had other plans. As Brandon Perrone left his crease to chase a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton clearing effort, Kidney swept in from the blue line and pulled the puck away from the netminder, before firing home his 17th goal of the season.

After seeing five goals scored in seven minutes, both teams took a pause to catch their breath. With just over three minutes remaining in the period, Tate Singleton repaid Hunter Alden for his earlier assist, returning the favor to set up Alden’s 10th goal of the season.

Down two to start the third, the Knights-Jack Olmstead and Matt Kidney in particular-came out swinging. At 2:21, Tom Farrell pinched down from the point, shoveling a puck to Kidney, who flipped a perfect pass to Jack Olmstead. Olmstead buried the puck for his 22nd goal of the season, bringing the Knights back within one.

The next shift down the ice, Olmstead would win a puck under the goal line, hand it to Kidney, who threaded a perfect pass to a waiting Gabe Temple in the slot for the game-tying score.

The Titans would seize back brief control in the second half of the period, when Holden Biebel fed Matthew Cameron for the 6-5 lead at 13:33.

At 14:40, Mike Morrissey would bring the Knights back yet again. The ’97 planted himself in front of the net while Kidney found Olmstead on the half-wall. The latter threaded a perfect pass to Morrissey in front to even the score at 6.

Just shy of two minutes to go, Morrissey would plant himself in front of the net yet again, this time acting as a screen. Blake Kryska hammered a puck off the end boards which wrapped its way onto the stick of Olmstead. Olmstead flipped a pass through the low slot to Matt Kidney, who hammered through his second-goal and fifth point of the evening.

In the limited time remaining, the Knights kept the Titans and their extra attacker at bay through the final horn. The win is the Knights second in a row, and with its two points in regulation, they move into a second place tie with the Titans in the NAHL’s east division. Their next test will come when the Knights travel up to Attleboro to take on the Northeast Generals for their final three meetings of the regular season. Game one is set for Friday, March 23rd at 8:30 pm. Tune in on hockeytv.com and follow along with Knights Twitter and Instagram @WBSKnights, and online at www.wbsknights.com.

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!

Ice Dogs Down Knights In Fairbanks

The Knights started the second half of their Alaska road trip with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, winners of 19-straight. Friday night’s action started quickly in favor of the home team, seeing Grant Ledford push a rebound past Christian Stoever for the 1-0 lead (Connor Chilton, Robert Blueger) at 6:04. The Ice Dogs dictated the early tempo, while Josh Benson stood down mid-period pressure from the Knights with a string of solid saves.

Following a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton turnover just past the 12:20 mark, Sam Ruffin recorded his 15th tally of the season, set up by Jack Johnston and Jax Murray. Fairbanks would cap a strong start with a third-straight goal, after Hunter Wendt swatted a puck out of mid-air on a dish from Daniel Haider, fed on by Noah Wilson.

In the second, the Knights first penalty would prove costly. Just over 30 seconds after being assessed a slash, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton couldn’t clear the netfront, where Robert Blueger deflected a piece of Erkka Vanska’s shot past Stoever for the 4-0 lead. Kyle Mayhew was credited the secondary assist on the power play goal.

Between the 9:17 and 10:42 marks, consecutive Fairbanks penalties nullified an Ice Dogs power play and turned four-on-four into an eventual 5-on-3 advantage for the Knights. They didn’t waste the opportunity. Curtis Carlson put his team on the board after refusing to quit on a Matt Kidney rebound. Multiple swats of the puck finally vested Benson to cut the Fairbanks lead to three (Kidney, Tom Farrell).

Before the second penalty’s expiration, Blake Kryska put a loose puck through Benson off a chance created by Farrell and Mike Morrissey. The goal marked Kryksa’s first in a Knights sweater.

Riding the wave of momentum, Mike Morrissey looked to add fuel to the fire when he and Connor Chilton dropped the gloves just shy of the 17:00 marker. Despite getting the better of the exchange of fists, the Knights could not solve Benson again before the close of the middle frame.

The third period reverted to the patterns of the first. Fairbanks resumed its control of play, outshooting the Knights 10-5. Each netminder traded quality saves, but the continual pressure applied to the Knights end of the ice resulted in little quality chances developing for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Down two scores late, the Knights were unable to gain the necessary space to pull Stoever (26 saves) until the game reached its final minute. Not long after he hit the bench, Sam Ruffin fired a puck into the yawning net to put the seal on a 5-2 Fairbanks win (Luke Orysiuk, Mayhew).

The Knights will look to finish their Alaska tour on a high note by snapping the Ice Dogs 20-game winning streak tonight at 11:30 PM EST/ 7:30 PM AKST. The broadcast will be available at HockeyTV.com, follow WBS Knights Hockey on Facebook, @wbsknights on Twitter and Instagram, and visit www.nahl.com for in-game updates!

NAHL: Seven Knights Named To Top Prospects Tournament

On Monday afternoon, the NAHL announced the rosters for its annual top prospects tournament. Seven of the Knights players made the cut, tied for the second-highest mark in the league, with NAHL Head Coach Tom Kowal being named as assistant to the East Division’s team. That team will carry four Knights players while the at large  White team will have three.

“Our purpose has always been preparing and helping our players onto the next level of hockey,” said Kowal. “Sending seven guys this year feels good. It says a lot about the hard work and talent each of them brings to the rink every day, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase them to college and professional scouts. At the same time it provides a nice incentive to the rest of our guys who are eligible next year as well.”

Team East Division (Orange Color):
#2, Tom Farrell, Defenseman, 3-13-16, 40 GP:

Farrell is the Knights leading point-scorer along the blue line and has secured his place as a regular starter atop the team’s defensive pairs.

“Tom has walked into this organization and has proved to be every bit the player we hoped he was when he tendered with us last year,” said Kowal. “He brings great energy both on the ice and in our dressing room. His top-level skating makes him a really good puck-mover. He has really helped spark our offense this year while also being a steady player on our end of the ice.”

#11 Curtis Carlson, Forward, 15-13-28, 41 GP:

The Knights captain has been an asset to the team this season, using his rare speed to be a threat in all situations. The ‘97 has been present in all phases, particularly on special teams. Carlson leads the Knights, scoring five goals and four assists between the power play and penalty kill.

“Curtis is a guy who’s been here dating back a few years now, and it’s impressive how he continues to make strides as a player,” said Kowal. “His speed is obvious, but he’s a savvy veteran. His work ethic translates both on and off the ice and is a big reason why he’s developed into one of our best players. He’s our captain because he leads by example. He leaves it all on the ice.”

#12 Mike Morrissey, Forward, 9-11-20, 42 GP:

One of the Knights most tenured players is Bethlehem, PA native, Mike Morrissey. He’ll be heading to his first Top Prospects Tournament after putting together an impressive 42 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year.

“Mike Morrissey is a tone-setter,” said Kowal. “He’s a guy who plays with a lot of grit-he takes the blood and sweat part of playing hockey literally-and when we need a big shift or faceoff win, we’re comfortable calling his number. He’s a really smart center who’s worked his bag off to be one our most versatile players.”

#16 Matt Kidney, Forward, 13-24-37, 42 GP:

After leading the team in scoring last year, Kidney finds himself in a familiar position, tied atop the points list with Knights rookie phenom Jack Olmstead through just over two-thirds of the season. The 2018 tournament marks his second trip as an NAHL top prospect.

“We made Matt Kidney our first-round pick in 2016 because of what he brings with to the ice with his hockey sense,” recalled Kowal. “He’s a guy who gets our offense going. He’s quick, he’s got good hands and a knack to find the puck and create chances. He’s not the biggest guy, but he brings a good compete level to the game.”

Team Selects-White:

#7 Adrian Danchenko, Forward, 9-13-22, 36 GP:

Still one of the younger players on the Knights roster, Adrian Danchenko is one of the Knights more tenured players dating back to his 16U days. The dekes and dangles he’s compiled in his time with the program dot highlight reels, but he brings a well-rounded game to any roster.

“Adrian is a ‘99 who’s still just scratching the surface,” said Kowal. “He’s improved every year we’ve had him. He’s been a constant for us this season. He can grind out tough shifts but also pull off some truly special plays. He’s been a threat no matter who his line mates are or what the in-game situation is.”

#27 Luke Robinson, Defenseman, 0-14-14, 37 GP:

After playing in one game with the Knights last season, Luke Robinson returned full time to establish himself among the Knights talented group of defensemen.

“As a 2000, Luke has shown us a lot,” said Kowal. “He’s a big guy who’s steady for us in our own zone, but he’s done a nice job continuing to develop his offensive game. He’s distributing the puck well and consistently making smart plays. He’s added another reliable member to our blue line.

#28 Justin Engelkes, Forward, 8-8-16, 37 GP:

As a 17-year old, Justin Engelkes has broken into the NAHL with a solid rookie campaign. The forward was the Knights second-round draft pick and has already committed to the Miami University of Ohio.

“Justin has established himself as a two-way player who has the necessary toughness to play in this league and beyond,” said his head coach. “I think he’s come along nicely. He’s got good size and likes to go to work down low and on the boards. He’s a guy that’s tough to move off the puck, and he’s shown us the ability to score as well. He’s got even more to offer and it’s exciting to see him unlock his game.”

From NAHL.com

The number of players each NAHL team is sending to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South and two NAHL Selects teams, will each play in two game games, was based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of February 5, 2018.
One of the things the NAHL does better than any other junior league is seeing their players earn an NCAA opportunity while playing and being showcased in the NAHL.

To date, 153 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2017-18 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event. The event continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as, some potential NHL Draft picks.

2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule (subject to change, all times eastern)

Tuesday, February 27th
1:00pm: Midwest Division vs. NAHL Selects Red
4:00pm: South Division vs. East Division
7:00pm: Central Division vs. NAHL Selects White

Wednesday, February 28th
11:00am: NAHL Selects Red vs. South Division
2:00pm: Central Division vs. Midwest Division
5:00pm: NAHL Selects White vs. East Division

Can’t make the game? Catch your Knights on www.hockeytv.com where each game will be available via live broadcast! Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media-Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey, Twitter: @WBSKnights-for all Knights Top Prospect Tournament Updates!

 

NAHL: Knights Salvage Point with OT Loss to Johnstown

Saturday marked game number 10 between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Johnstown Tomahawks in the 2017-18 season. Following Friday’s contest that saw the Tomahawks grind out a 2-1 win, both teams entered play having collected 10 points against the other.

Much like the prior contest, Saturday’s affair took on a decidedly slow pacing as both sides struggled to find much consistency on the attack. In net again for the Tomahawks was Kade Phipps, countered by Christian Stoever for the Knights.

After a quiet start, the Knights offense awoke in the last quarter of the opening frame. On a power play that saw the Knights spend most of their 2:00 in the attacking end, Curtis Carlson capped off the man-advantage with a rocket from the top of the zone that found its way through Mike Gelatt and past Kade Phipps for the game’s first goal. Mike Morrissey and Tom Farrell picked up helpers on the tally at 14:21.

Exactly two minutes later, the Tomahawks responded by digging a puck from out of the corner in the Knights end and walking it down the goal line. On two prior shifts in the offensive zone, the Tomahawks had done the same, only to be denied the first time by an opportune poke check from Luke Robinson, and a pair of sprawling saves from Stoever on the second. On the third such occasion, Joe Kile made sure to bury the puck from point blank range, ripping it through the fiver to knot the score at one (Carson Brière). The period would end, gridlocked in a 1-1 tie.

Gridlock would be an apt way to describe the second and third periods. In the middle stanza, both teams took turns clogging up the center of the ice, while turning pucks over in the neutral zone. The result was few quality chances on net, while both goalies handled the shots that got to the net with relative ease.

After the Knights strong start to the power play in the first, the unit cooled off for their remaining four chances between the second and third. All told, the Tomahawks killed four of five opportunities for the Knights power play, while also being blanked on two of their own.

With the third came little change other than seeing an uptick in penalty minutes. Both teams had struggles standing up on the puck in the attacking end, resulting in scoreless stretch that ran a grand total of 46:02 from the end of the first to the game’s conclusion.

Just shy of the halfway point in 3-on-3 overtime, Carson Brière found himself in alone on an odd-man rush set up by Joe Kile and Karim DelPonte. The ’99 flipped the puck up and over the shoulder of Christian Stoever (41 saves in the loss) for the win, earning Johnstown a weekend sweep of the Knights.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to bounce back next week, starting with a home game against the New Jersey Titans at 2:30 pm EST. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Tune into Knights social media and visit www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!