The Knights touched down in Minnesota Wednesday to enter the final stages of their pursuit of a Robertson Cup. Today they will face the Shreveport Mudbugs in a best-of-three series to determine which of the pair will play for the Robertson Cup on Monday.
After a gritty 3-2 series win over the New Jersey Titans, the Knights swept their way through the Philadelphia Rebels to win the right to represent the East Division in the Final Four. Less than two weeks have passed since the team punched their tickets to Blaine, but how did they earn the trip?
Not only was the journey carried by a complete team effort, but this postseason run has come off of the back of many strong individual performances.
One key player that immediately stands out is goalie Christian Stoever. Number 31 has been a wall in the playoffs. In his seven playoff starts, he has allowed less than three goals in five games, including a shutout in a 1-0 victory against the Titans in game four of the first round.
In the team’s more recent series against Philadelphia, Stoever had a save percentage of 94%. Even more impressive is that Stoever has had a knack for stepping up in big spots during both series. In round one, facing consecutive elimination games, he produced a shutout in game four, followed by a 49-save effort to win the series.
Rookie forward Jack Olmstead has also been a major contributor during the Knights’ playoff run. Olmstead has had a point in every Knights playoff game this season, and scored two goals in the team’s second game of their series against Philadelphia. The line of Olmstead, Michael Morrissey, and Matt Kidney are three of the top four scorers in the 2018 playoffs for the Knights. Olmstead, however, leads the team in points with ten.
Other new faces on the Knights NAHL roster for this season include Gabe Temple, who has three goals in the playoffs, and Tyrone Bronte, who’s notched three goals and three assists so far.
Even in a season highlighted by great rookie performances, veterans like Reed Robinson and Curtis Carlson have been a strong base for the newer members of the team to rise to the forefront.
Robinson scored the fourth and final goal in the first game of the team’s series against Philadelphia, while Carlson was able to put the team up 2-1 in their eventual 5-4 victory against the Rebels in game two. Carlson has scored three other goals in the playoffs, and Robinson another goal and assist.
The Knights defensive end has been equally impressive throughout the postseason. Led by veteran Joey Verkerke and All-East blue-liner Thomas Farrell, the group of rookies has helped the team keep their average goals against at 2.25 throughout the playoffs. Verkerke, who’s had a keen eye for passing and a knack for blocking shots, has an active four game point streak via four assists.
Tonight’s puck drop against Shreveport will be the team’s first appearance in the Final Four and their second meeting on the season with Shreveport. With a staunch defense and a potent offense, the team is poised for to make a run toward Robertson Cup.
Game three in the Knights-Titans East Division Semi-Finals brought the competition to the Revolution Ice Centre with the series even at one. Friday’s contest saw the Titans surge out to an early lead.
After hemming the Knights in on a long shift early, the Titans fired a flurry of shots at Knights starter Christian Stoever. After he made saves on the initial Titans offerings, a rebound kicked out to Gavin Gulash on the short side. Gulash buried the puck for the game’s first goal at 2:56. Ryan Naumovski and Nick Boyagian tallied assists in the score. Andrew Husted added to the Titans lead after he deflected Chris Garbe’s shot past Stoever just three minutes later.
The Knights had no shortage of opportunities to respond. The team was stymied on all 12 of their first period shots, in addition to a few quality chances that missed the net of Ladd. In one instance, Ladd denied Jack Olmstead alone in close and then made a diving save to rob Matt Kidney of the would-be rebound goal.
The Titans would rally behind the efforts of the goaltender and their power play late in the period. With just six seconds remaining in their first man-advantage, Tate Singleton notched his first goal of the postseason after re-directing a Ryan Naumovski shot. Tyler Antonucci recorded the secondary assist on the tally, giving the Titans a commanding 3-0 lead with under five minutes remaining in the first.
The second period saw the game’s pace slow significantly as neither side found much success moving the puck. Turnovers, icings, and pucks put out of play dominated the early going, leaving little in terms of quality chances.
As had been the case for Wilkes/Barre-Scranton in game two, Gabe Temple was able to provide a spark. The Knights first-round draft pick scored his team’s first goal for the second-consecutive game, teed up by Jake Fuss and Tomas Koblizek on a rush down the ice at 12:01.
With the deficit trimmed to two, the Knights carried momentum into the third period. After beginning the frame on a carryover power play, the Knights quickly saw the advantage evaporate when they were penalized for hooking on a failed breakaway. Undeterred, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would a penalty 48 seconds later, pushing the game to 4-on-4 and an eventual Knights power play.
Shortly after the second power play’s expiration, Gabe Temple threw a puck to the slot where Jack Olmstead fired it to the netfront. Ladd and a host of bodies piled on the puck in the low slot, with the effort kicking it over to right post. There, lying prone on his back, Curtis Carlson shoveled the puck through Ladd to bring the Knights within a single score.
Wade Novak winded the comeback effort just over a minute and a half later. The explosive skater tore up the ice on a 3-on-2 rush. As Stoever moved to mirror his effort, Novak buried a shot top-shelf over Stoever’s glove to re-establish a two-goal lead (Kyle Jeffers).
In what can be described as an all-world counter punch, Michael Morrissey swung momentum back in the opposite direction less than a minute later. As the Titans attempted a breakout, Morrissey, pressuring alone in the offensive zone, pick-pocketed a Titans defenseman on the right circle before streaking in on goal. He ripped a shot past Ladd to narrow the score to 4-3.
Momentum on their side, the Knights re-doubled their efforts and managed to create another handful of quality chances as time ticked away in the third. Still, they struggled to break through against Ladd.
Their best chance came on a 2-on-1 with time dwindling, when Adrian Danchenko found Justin Engelkes with a cross-slot pass just after the pair gained the Titans zone. Engelkes lifted a heavy shot on goal, only to be denied by a sprawling Ladd.
Off the back of his efforts, the Titans fended off the last of the Knights comeback attempt, including 1:30 of facing an extra attacker, securing themselves a 2-1 series lead heading into game four.
Game four will be played tonight at the Revolution Ice Centre at 6:00 PM EDT. Admission is $5 at the door, and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow along on Knights social media and at NAHL.com!
Any postseason series in hockey is determined by momentum swings or lack thereof. Following a 5-2 loss to New Jersey in their East Division Semi-Finals opener, the Knights looked to reverse course on Sunday or face the risk of falling into a 2-0 deficit.
Neither the Titans nor the Knights found much momentum through the opening 20 minutes of game two. Though Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held a definitive advantage in offensive chances in the opening period, they could not solve Titans netminder Brandon Perrone while peppering him with 19, first-period shots.
For their part, the Titans offense mustered nine shots on the net of Christian Stoever, manning the pipes for his Knights postseason debut. The Northville, Michigan native stopped the first eight shots New Jersey put on goal, but early penalties finally caught up with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
While attempting to kill off a 5-on-3, the Knights were beaten on a swift passing from Nick Boyagian, who fed Kyler Head, parked to the right of Stoever. Head, who authored two power play goals in game one, pulled Stoever’s attention and motion to the right post. Head then threaded a back-door pass to a waiting Hunter Alden, whose shot beat Stoever’s scramble to get back across with 8 seconds left in the period.
Down a goal heading into the middle frame for the second-consecutive game, the Knights would fire out of the first intermission with a blistering pace. Like the night before, they tallied the second period’s first goal to tie the game.
On an early power play, the Knights set up a strong cycle in the Titans zone. From the right circle, Michael Morrissey zipped a puck back to Thomas Farrell, who let a howitzer shot go from the point. Perrone made the initial save, only to see the rebound kick over to Gabe Temple in front. Temple buried the puck for the game-tying goal just shy of the 3:00 mark of the frame.
Temple’s tally set off an avalanche. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forecheck was unrelenting through much of the period. They were rewarded with their next score, just past the nine minute mark. Jake Fuss tangled and won a puck in the Titans far corner before driving from to the front of Perrone’s net. Fuss fired a shot off the goalie’s pads and the rebound glanced over back to the trailing Tomas Koblizek who ripped the puck over Perrone for the Knights first lead.
Farrell followed up with a goal of his own less than a minute later. Matt Kidney jarred a puck free with a check in the right corner of the attacking zone. Jack Olmstead found the biscuit and fired it to the top of the slot where Farrell ripped it through traffic, past Perrone for the 3-1 lead.
The Knights advantage was continually protected by an excellent outing from Christian Stoever. The 2000-born netminder neutralized New Jersey’s attempts to mount a rally with a bevvy of impressive saves.
In the period’s final minute, a forechecking Tomas Koblizek fought off two Titans before kicking the puck to Jake Fuss. From under the New Jersey goal line, Fuss, facing the glass of the end boards, flipped a perfect no-look pass to Tyrone Bronte streaking toward the net. Bronte pulled Perrone out of the crease with a fake, before dragging around the goalie for the highlight-reel goal.
In the third, the Knights didn’t sit on their lead, continuing their attack, despite facing resistance from the Titans always-dangerous transition game. Stoever stood tall throughout, making 11 saves in the game’s final frame, finishing with 29 on 30 shots on the evening.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s final insurance came on a delayed Titans penalty a little more than halfway through the third. On a play in which Blake Kryska was hit into his own end wall from behind, the big defenseman was able to steer the puck through the check and up the boards to Luke Robinson. After a brief survey, Robinson laced a long stretch pass to Justin Engelkes, waiting behind the Titans defense in neutral ice. Engelkes, moving in alone on Perrone, beat the savvy goaltender with flutter move from his backhand to the forehand to put the Knights ahead 5-1.
There the score would hold through the remainder of the contest, delivering the Knights a much-needed, series equalizer. The teams will meet again for game three at the Revolution Ice Centre in the best of five series this Friday, April 20th at 5:00 PM EDT. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!
The regular season’s final meeting between the Knights and Titans took place in New Jersey Tuesday night. The teams had traded a win and a loss over the course of two meetings this weekend. With the Titans entering the evening with a one point lead for second place in the East, a New Jersey win would clinch them home ice advantage through the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Standing in their way was Knights goaltender David Tomeo. The West Caldwell, New Jersey native stoned the Titans on Friday making 52 saves on 53 shots. The Titans rebounded Saturday and chased him from the game in the second period, on their way to a 5-1 win.
On this night, Tomeo would quickly regain his Friday form that has helped carry the Knights to a 3-1 record over their previous four games. Despite the Titans getting the early jump, they could not solve Tomeo in the opening period, seeing a staggering 23 shots-many of high quality-fail to find the twine.
For their part, the Knights offense picked up steam slowly. They were besieged by the Titans transition game for good portions of the opening frame. Further limiting their attack was Matthew Ladd, fresh off a sterling performance against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday. He was steady again early, stopping all 10 shots he faced in the first.
The second period began in similar fashion, with the early tilt of the ice belonging to the Titans. Tomeo hunkered down yet again, keeping New Jersey at bay, on his way to a 13-save middle stanza.
The turning point for the Knights offense came at the 7:43 mark. Shay Dononvan intercepted a Titans clearing effort at the top of the zone. He turned and lifted a shot high through traffic, beating Ladd under the crossbar for the Knights 1-0 lead. Off the ensuing faceoff, Joey Verkerke ladled a puck to Gabe Temple down the left wing, into Titans territory. Temple filtered a pass ahead to the left side of the zone, through Tomas Koblizek, and to Jake Fuss in the low slot. Fuss slammed the puck by Ladd, giving the Knights two goals within nine seconds of play.
Bruised but not yet beaten, the Titans regained some of their stride around the three-quarter mark of the period. Following a Knights penalty at 14:40, the Titans were able to capitalize to trim the deficit to one. The Knights penalty kill was bested with about 40 seconds remaining in the Titans man-advantage.
Set up by Ryan Naumovski, Matthew Cameron fired a pass through to the slot where a waiting Tyler Antonucci deflected the puck by Tomeo to put New Jersey on the board.
With no further scoring in the second, the next goal in a 2-1 game would decide who controlled momentum in the third.
Early in the third, Jake Fuss came crashing down the right wing of the New Jersey zone. He fought through a heavy check to flip the puck back to Luke Robinson at the point. Robinson fed a pass to the middle of the to Tomas Koblizek. The Czech winner spun impressively off a body and turned the puck to Morrissey firing into the low slot. The Knights assistant captain buried the biscuit past Ladd for the 3-1 lead, 2:13 into the third.
The Titans would answer five minutes later when, off a set up by Zachary Faremouth, Hunter Alden gained the middle of the Knights line. At the top of the slot, he dangled his way through one pair of skates before deftly dropping the puck back for the trailing Eric Manoukian. The defenseman didn’t miss on a quick release from the middle of the ice, as the Titans again cut the lead to one.
The see-saw third saw New Jersey continue to push offensive play while the Knights attempted to protect their lead. Tomeo and the back check withstood New Jersey’s efforts long enough to force the Titans to empty their net with a minute to go. The first draw with the open net came deep in Knights territory. Curtis Carlson won possession for the Knights, only to see the Titans force a quick turnover. Lincoln Hatten took it right back for the Knights fired the puck into the open net New Jersey twine at 19:03.
The 4-2 lead would be tested, as the Titans would empty the net again and even take a penalty shot near the game’s end, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense and Tomeo (43 saves) would hold strong through it all. At the final horn, the Knights had the victory and possession of second place in the East once again.
They’ll look to add to their one-point lead in the standings with a 3:05 pm EDT resumption of play today against the Philadelphia Rebels. The final game of the Knights regular season will pick up midway through the first as it is a continuation of a postponed game form earlier in the season. The score is 2-0 Rebels. Tune in for the Knights comeback effort on hockeytv.com, and follow along with Knights social media and at nahl.com!
As the Knights began their two week trip to Alaska, the team went searching for the success that had eluded them for the majority of January and early February. Their third head-to-head with the Brown Bears marked their first trip to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex this season. It began well: Knights captain Curtis Carlson buried his 14th goal of the season off assists from Matt Kidney and Anthony Firriolo seven and a half minutes into the contest.
The first period carried on without further scoring despite two power plays for the Brown Bears. Knights starter David Tomeo brought his a-game to the crease as he stopped all shots sent his way in an evenly played first.
It would be Kenai River to come out swinging in the second. Filip Karlsson tied the game at 6:59 with assists from Gil Garcia and Lukas Millen. Gavin Enright hunkered down in net for the Brown Bears, as the ’99 birth year kept the Knights off the board for the better part of the period.
Sutton McDonald would score next for Kenai River, supplying their first lead at 16:43, with Michael Spethmann and Luke Posner credited with the helpers on the score. The Knights would get the goal back less than two minutes later when Tomas Koblizek found Gabe Temple for his fourth marker of the year.
In the third, Mike Gelatt would find the back of the net to retake the lead for the Knights just 2:27 in. Kenai River would redouble their efforts to try to find the equalizer, mounting 16 shots on goal in the period, but David Tomeo didn’t blink.
Through two penalty kills and a chippy finish to game one, the Knights held on to kick off their road trip with a win. Elemental to the victory were the Knights strong penalty kill and Tomeo’s steadiness in net, recording 32 saves on 34 shots.
In Saturday’s rematch, the Knights would again jump out to a quick start. Luke Robinson and Curtis Carlson would find Matt Kidney, who bested former Knights goalie Kevin Lake at 1:01. The Brown Bears wouldn’t rest easy with the deficit, scoring just one minute later when David Kaplan fired a heavy wrist shot by Knights starter David Tomeo to even the score (Markuss Komuls, Cameron McDonald). The Carlson line struck back at 4:02, when Carlson drove in and fired a puck past Lake for the 2-1 lead (Engelkes, Kidney).
An eventful first half of the opening period would be capped off by Joe Rosa’s power play goal at 8:02. After killing off all six power plays in game one, the Knights penalty kill struggled to get back on track Saturday. Former Knight defenseman Markuss Komuls made a nice play to keep the zone before firing the puck to the net. Michael Spethmann pushed a puck off Tomeo’s pads before Joe Rosa put the bouncing puck home to tie the game at two. The goal brought Christian Stoever on in relief of Tomeo.
Early in the second, the Knights forecheck would begin dictating tempo and forcing odd-man rushes. Two and a half minutes into the period, Jack Olmstead handed the puck to Tyrone Bronte who fed a perfect stretch pass to Mike Gelatt to create an odd-man break. Gelatt finished the rush by burying the puck by Lake for the 3-2 lead.
Again the Brown Bears would answer quickly, and again on the power play. Cameron McDonald and Filip Karlsson created a rebound in front of Stoever that Gil Garcia eventually shoveled home to once again even the score.
For the remainder of regulation, the Knights would continually force the issue in the offensive zone and off the rush. Again and again they would be turned away by Lake, who made 24 saves on 25 shots over the final two periods of play, staring down multiple odd-man rushes in the process.
Stoever, for his part, turned away 29 of 30 through the remainder of the contest. As regulation proved inconclusive, 3-on-3 overtime brought with it an abundance of chances on the Soldotna’s Olympic-sized sheet. Both Stoever and Lake traded grade-a saves to force the shootout.
Lake stopped Justin Engelkes and Curtis Carlson in rounds one and two, while Stoever denied his first challenger in Emils Ezitis. Sacha Guillemain squeezed a puck through in round two, forcing the onus on Matt Kidney to try and force a bottom of the third. Lake stopped him to secure the shootout win and the second point.
With the weekend split, the Knights did come away with three out of four points. They’ll look to continue their recent success with a road trip to Fairbanks next weekend. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media (Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey, Twitter and Instagram @WBSKnights) for all news and updates!
Coming off a 5-3 win Friday night, the Knights looked to travel to New Jersey for a weekend sweep of the Titans. They were welcomed rudely by Tyler Antonucci who pushed a goal past Knights starter Christian Stoever just 27 seconds into the first period (Tate Singleton, Wade Novak).
Knights first-round pick and Michigan Tech commitment, Gabe Temple responded under three minutes later when EHL affiliate player Tyler Nielsen fed him the puck to even the score and give Nielsen his first point in his NAHL career. Tomas Koblizek recorded the secondary assist.
A trade of saves between Stoever and Titans starter Matt Ladd lasted until 14:05, when Andrew Husted scored off the set up from Gavin Gulash and Jimmy Dowd Jr. to give the Titans back the lead. The teams headed to the dressing room with 20 combined shots on goal.
In the second, the shot count would climb to 22 as each side cracked double digits, but sound penalty-killing, and solid goaltending led to a scoreless 17 minutes. Ryan Wheeler would end the drought at 17:09 with Todd Goehring serving him up his third goal of the season, building the Titans a 3-1 advantage. Wade Novak wouldn’t let the period conclude quietly, scoring unassisted with 20 seconds remaining in the middle-stanza.
Entering the third, the Knights lost a key piece of their lineup after Reed Robinson was served a five minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind penalty just 4:21 in. The Knights would rally on the ensuing shift to score a shorthanded goal when Luke Robinson found Michael Morrisey for the score, trimming the deficit to two.
A Titans penalty halfway through the major would result in most of the remaining penalty time being spent playing 4-on-4. The Titans were able to push their fifth goal home at 7:27 when Jimmy Dowd Jr. scored via assists from Andrew Husted and Chris Garbe.
Jack Olmstead would keep the Knights afloat with his 17th goal of the season at 12:51, as Matt Kidney found his fellow winger for the duo’s fifth and sixth combined points of the weekend series.
The Titans would put any hopes of a comeback to rest less than a minute later when Kyle Jeffers scored to rebuild New Jersey’s three-goal lead (Hunter Alden, Holden Biebel).
The rest of regulation wound down without another score, handing the Knights their 11th regulation loss of the season. The team did go without allowing a power play goal on the evening, blanking a New Jersey power play unit that recorded a pair of scores the night prior. Jack Olmstead and Matt Kidney each extended their point streaks to three games, while Mike Morrissey has an active, two-game streak of his own.
The Knights will look to bounce back next weekend when they host the Johnstown Tomahawks at the Revolution Ice Centre starting Friday, January 26th at 7:30 pm for Scouts Night. Check out details for the evening devoted to the Boy Scouts of Northeast Pennsylvania here. The second game of the series will be Saturday, January 27th at 7:30 pm. Tune into both games on myhockeytv.com! Follow Knights social media and visit www.wbsknights.com to stay up to date on all news!
A meeting of the leaders of the NAHL’s East and the Midwest divisions lived up the billing on Friday afternoon when the Knights played host the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The game got off to a blazing start as Tyrone Bronte netted the game’s first goal on a dart from the top of the zone to put the Knights up 1-0 just 33 seconds in. Tomas Koblizek picked up a helper for the second-straight game, while Adrian Danchenko pushed his point-streak to four with the secondary assist.
The Ice Dogs awoke five minutes later, when Jake Borgida tipped in his second goal of the season to knot the game at one off the set up from Tanner Schachle and Connor Chilton. Caleb Hite followed up with Fairbanks second goal at 12:55 when he found a loose puck behind Knights starter David Tomeo and backhanded it home (Noah Wilson, Daniel Haider). Schachle then added a goal of his own, served up on a late-period power play by Robert Blueger and Erkka Vanska to cap a strong first for Fairbanks.
The opening shift of the middle frame saw little relief for the Knights. Just 45 seconds in, the Ice Dogs extended their lead to three when Vanska powered a puck by Tomeo off assists from Nolan Schaeffer and Caleb Hite.
Down three, the Knights dug in. Grinding out their forecheck’s early sluggishness, the Olmstead-Carlson-Kidney line ignited for the Knights at 6:43. Matt Kidney fed Luke Robinson at the blue line who hammered a heavy shot off the pads of Ice Dog’s goalie Josh Benson. Pouncing on the rebound was Knights captain Curtis Carlson, who buried it for his 11th goal of the season.
Carlson followed that up just under two minutes later with another tally, this time supplied by Olmstead and Kidney to pull the Knights within one. On a power play that started at 9:10, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first of the contest, they appeared to have bested Benson for the game-tying goal through a scrum in front. Instead, the ’97 netminder made a show-stopping kick save to keep his team ahead by one.
Following the expiration of the power play, the Knights would again nearly tie the game on a Justin Engelkes feed to Gabe Temple off the rush, but again they would be robbed by a post-to-post save by Benson. The second would expire without further scoring and the Knights still trailing.
In the third, the period was mostly even, with both team’s trading zones but not initially an abundance of grade-a looks. A turnover in front of the Knights net in the later half of the frame presented the best opportunity of the afternoon. Hunter Wendt didn’t miss, burying a goal from the middle of the slot to build a 5-3 lead.
Josh Benson, on his way to a 29-save performance, closed out the contest with a third robbery of a Knights grade-a chance and then received help from the iron which stoned a laser from Reed Robinson. With a late power play and the extra attacker on, the Knights came up just short in their comeback efforts to fall in a 5-3 final. They’ll look to rebound tomorrow with a rematch against the Ice Dogs at 6:30 pm EST. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow Knights social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for in-game updates!
Saturday brought with it the Knights final game of the 2017 calendar year. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton entered the tilt with the opportunity to gain sole possession of first place in the NAHL’s East Division with a win. Their opponent for the second straight day was the Kenai River Brown Bears.
After a strong offensive showing in a 5-2 win, the Knights looked to their forecheck to lead the way again on Saturday. After a quiet first seven minutes in which each side traded an unsuccessful power play, the Knights awoke.
At 7:25 Adrian Danchenko kicked off an impressive outing when he fired a shot through a screen to best Kenai River goalie Gavin Enright. Anthony Firriolo picked up his 12th assist, while Gabe Temple added his sixth to set up the game’s first score.
31 seconds later Temple would fill in the goal column as well as the Knights first-round pick willed a puck through Enright on a wraparound set up by Danchenko and Tomas Koblizek. The 2-0 lead held through the end of the period as Christian Stoever, fresh off a stint in the USHL, coupled with the Knights defense to hold the Brown Bears off the board.
A quiet opening to the second frame gave way to a penalty parade featuring 11 combined infractions. Both power plays were stymied by steady penalty kill play on each side of the ice, holding the score in place at 2-0. A fight between Michael Morrissey and Michael Spethmann kicked up the intensity in what had already proven to be a chippy weekend just past the halfway point of play.
As the second wound down, 4-on-4 play ensued at 16:49 following a Kenai River penalty. With added space on the ice, Tom Farrell and Luke Robinson set up an Adrian Danchenko deke and drive to the net where he bested Enright for his eighth goal of the year, his second of the day.
Leading 3-0 to start the the third, the Knights penalties finally came back to bite them, as former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blue-liner Markuss Komuls cashed in a perfectly placed power play goal at 5:46 (Zach Krajnik, Filip Karlsson).
The Knights would bounce back, capitalizing on a power play of their own when Curtis Carlson fired a puck home at 11:29 from Jack Olmstead to re-gain a three-goal lead. Olmstead would combine with Matt Kidney to put the game to rest a few minutes later. Just past 17:40, Kidney executed a brilliant poke check in neutral ice before carrying the puck back the other way to create an odd-man rush. In front of the net, Kidney faked to Curtis Carlson before passing back to Jack Olmstead in the slot where the latter buried the puck for a 5-1 lead.
Christian Stoever would close out the contest with a stellar 32 saves on 33 shots in his first game back, on his way to his 11th win of the season. Gavin Enright was solid, despite the five goals allowed, making 36 stops on 41 shots. The Knights and Brown Bears both went 1/7 on the power play and 6/7 on the penalty kill on the afternoon. The win and subsequent two points puts the Knights ahead of the Philadelphia Rebels in the East by one point.
The Knights will look to continue building on a three-game winning streak with a two-game series against the midwest-leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs next weekend. The first will take place on Friday, January 5th and 1:00 pm. The second will be played on Saturday the 6th at 6:30 pm. Both games will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all news and updates!
On behalf of the entire organization, the Knights would like to wish all their fans, players, families, and staff a very healthy and happy New Year and look forward to bringing you more wins in 2018!
A balanced group of forwards look to bolster Knights attack in 2017-18
With each year, a new crop of Knights arrives at the Revolution Ice Centre to make their case for an NAHL roster spot. This year is no exception as large shoes have been left to fill by the team’s most recent departures. Gone are forwards Joe Schuler and Sam Antonitsch, who are headed to Colby College and Europe, respectively, while veteran Paul Maust will be vying for a spot in the USHL.
On the ice, that leaves a significant loss of production to replace. Maust was second on the team in points last year, while Antonitsch was tied for second in goals. Schuler brought top-shelf toughness and steady defensive play with each shift, particularly on the penalty kill. All three were vocal members of the locker room, with years of experience playing junior hockey.
Beyond replacing players moving on, there are other roster spots open to competition. The good news for the Knights-they have many skilled and hard-working applicants.
The International Pool
In the NAHL, teams are allowed four players from outside the US on their roster. Last season, imports Dorian Dawson, Markuss Komuls and Sam Antonitsch were major pieces in the Knights lineup.
Tender Dominik Bogdziul was unable to make it to main camp, but his skill and resume are more than worthy of bringing him to training camp.
The Lithuanian has spent the last two years stateside, playing in the NA3HL. In 85 games, he registered 63 goals and 105 assists.
“Dominik creates a ton of space and offense for his teammates,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “His speed along with his skillset make him a threat all over the ice.”
Alongside his impressive play in the US, the ’98 birth year has represented his home country in four consecutive seasons at the World Junior Classic in both the U18 and U20 age groups.
Tender Tyrone Bronte is a forward from Australia. The ’99 birth year has played in the NAPHL 18U for the past two seasons, scoring 21-35-56 in 48 games. Like Bogdziul, he has represented his country at World Juniors. For Australia’s U18 team, he scored six goals and six assists in five games last season on his way to a D2B gold-medal finish.
“Tyrone brings great offensive instincts and skills to our organization right away,” said Knights head scout Justin Schreiber. “He thinks the game really well, which pushed him to lead the NAPHL in scoring this past year.”
Tomas Koblizek is a big-bodied, 17-year old turning heads wherever he goes. The Czechoslovakian forward is eligible for the 2018 NHL draft and has even achieved top-100 ranking by some NHL draft pundits.
“Tomas is a player that’s already proven himself at an international level,” said Schreiber. “He was a point-per-game player last year at the U17 World Hockey Challenge against the best 2000’s in the world. We are excited to see what he can do with his impressive offensive skillset in North America.”
Koblizek couples a 6-2, 180-pound frame with a knack for generating plays. He picked up five assists in five games in the World Hockey Challenge last season. He’s spent most of his career playing in the Czech U16 and U18 leagues with 139 points in the past four years.
Kiryll Ulanov, son of NHL and KHL veteran Igor Ulanov, is looking to form his own legacy as he moves forward in his hockey career.
The forward’s towering 6-4 frame was hard to miss at camp, and so too was his day-two performance in which he picked up three assists on three consecutive goals. The lefty has prior experience playing junior hockey in Canada.
Expectations were high for Josh Fricks as he entered main camp. In 2016-17, he tallied 23 goals and 35 assists in 40 games played with the Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18.
“Josh is an extremely gifted and skilled forward who put up a ton of points this year with his midget U18 team,” said Whiteside. “We feel that Josh will complement our returning core group of forwards right away.”
Watching his electric speed at main camp left no doubt that the Knights excitement for the ‘98 forward is well-warranted. Veteran Matt Kidney tabbed Fricks as one of the most impressive players he saw at camp, as the pair played three games together, often on the same line.
“He’s opened my eyes pretty wide,” said Kidney. “He’s very fast, a little bit like Curtis Carlson.”
Jack Olmstead isn’t a stranger to the Knights. He played in two NAHL games as an affiliate player last year, scoring his first NAHL goal and flashing impressive hands and speed in his audition. The staff liked what they saw from the 19-year old off the ice as well.
“The biggest thing that jumps out at you when you see Jack play is his character,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He just plays the game the right way; he’s a high character guy on and off the ice and has a ton of offensive skill.”
The lefty forward continued the trend of impressive showings from tenders at camp by showing off quick hands and a hearty helping of skill. He emerged as a leading scorer, with 2-2-4 in four games, plus two game-winning goals in shootouts.
The Draft Class
Gabe Temple, the Knights most recent first-round pick, displayed the power element to his game, working alongside veteran Mike Gelatt for portions of camp. It was while playing alongside the latter when Temple took a slick pass and flipped it backhand for a slick goal.
“It’s a little bit faster here,” said Temple on his main camp impressions. “There’s a lot of good guys here with a lot of skill. It’s pretty fun though, I like the competitiveness. I’m a big forward, I can put the puck in the net, I make plays, I have a lot of speed.”
“Gabe projects as an impact player,” said Whiteside. “That blend of talent and want-to is something we value highly on our team.”
As with any member of their draft class, the Knights were eager to see what fifth-round pick Lincoln Hatten would bring to the ice at main camp. At each stage of the scouting process, the Dallas Stars U16 product made an impression on those the Knights sent to scout him.
“He’s a player who got better every time we evaluated him,” said Whiteside. “He’s a skilled, big forward and stood out on one of the better midget rosters in the country.”
Hatten was a consistent force across the ice at camp, showing a finishing ability to accompany his bruising tenacity, registering three goals and two assists in four games played.
Tucker Chapman, the team’s sixth round pick, is a long-time veteran of the USHS playing in his home state of Minnesota. Chapman was a standout there, finishing in the top five in goals, assists, points, and games played in Lourdes Eagles history (per eliteprospects.com).
“Tucker is a skilled forward that uses his elite skating ability to create space for himself on the rush,” said Schreiber.
A local product from Shavertown, Pennsylvania, Chris McGrath came to camp with a strong pedigree. His brother Patrick plays for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. McGrath, a former member of the Knights 16UA teams from 2012-2014, held his own at Knights main camp, scoring goals on both day one and two before playing in both all-star games on day three.
Another former Knight returning to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area is Alex Rowella. After playing youth hockey within the organization until 2015, he has spent the last two years in his home state of Connecticut playing for the EHL’s Connecticut Oilers. A 6-1, 190-pound ‘97, Rowella is coming off a strong season in which he scored 20 goals and 17 assists in 47 games.
Rounding out the forwards is yet another familiar face in Tyler Uravage. Like Rowella, Uravage played at various levels of Knights youth hockey until 2015. He spent last season with the Binghamton Jr. Senators of the NA3HL, lighting up the score sheet with 33-69-102 in 52 games. At main camp, he skated well alongside NAHL veterans Paul Maust and Reed Robinson, picking up three goals and two assists in five games played.
Back in 2016, Knights 2017 second-round pick Justin Engelkes was selected in the 2016 USHL Futures Draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers. As such, he’ll attempt to make their roster in the coming weeks. If he does not, the Knights can add him back to their own. The talented two-way skater offers versatility and physicality, and is already committed to play division one hockey for Miami University (Ohio).
“Justin is another quality two-way forward that plays the NAHL-style game,” said Schreiber. “He plays a very aggressive, physical style of hockey and can put the puck in the net as well.”
With main camp in the rear-view mirror, this young group will soon be competing to make the Knights roster to start the season. The best teams often must make hard decisions come roster cut deadlines, and in that regard, the coaching staff will have a lot to think about. With that said, those are the types of decisions that put together good hockey teams that produce great hockey players.
The Knights report to training camp at the beginning of September and will open their season against the New Jersey Titans at the Revolution Ice Centre at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 15th. Tickets can be pre-ordered by calling (570)-883-1100.