Tag Archives: Tyler Watungwa

Tyler Watungwa Commits to Finlandia University

Another day and another Knight is heading off to college. Tyler Watungwa, a crucial mid-season addition to the EHL team, and an elemental piece to the Knights second-half run has committed to Finlandia University. The Lions compete in the highly-competitive NCHA Conference in NCAA Division III hockey.

“First off, it came highly recommended by coach Fusco, him being an alumni of their program and a former player for its head coach Joe Burcar,” said Watungwa. “He had nothing but good things to say about both Finlandia and the coaching staff there. That was a huge part of it. Once I was started looking into it a little more, they had the program that I was looking for. It’s called physical therapist assistant and that’ll lead me down a path of exercise science, hopefully allowing me to be an athletic trainer once hockey is all done.”

“I was just doing my job as a coach and reaching out to other coaches at the college level to talk about my 97’s,” said Fusco. “One of the schools I talked to was my alma mater Finlandia. Coach Joe Burcar, was my coach. I know what what he likes and what he demands out of his players. I wanted to help him out and ultimately help Tyler. Burcar wants hockey players and he’s getting one in Tyler.

The Ottawa native came to the Knights in mid-December, while the team was still finding their footing in the Eastern Hockey League. After returning from a two-year absence, the roster was filled with talented, but young players, many that were still new to the junior level of hockey. Watungwa saw through that and reached out to a place he felt he could help.

“He actually reached out to me,” said Fusco. “We were playing the Boston Junior Rangers and East Coast Wizards and I got an email from Tyler expressing an interest in playing for us. He wanted to come to an organization with a good reputation and some prestige while getting some exposure to scouts. I took a look at some clips of him, talked to his coach, and even had the benefit of having Austin Weber, one of his former teammates, already on our roster. Web backed up what I saw and that was that Tyler was a good hockey player who worked hard, was strong and hard to move off the puck. At the end of the day, he was a ‘97 who wanted to be here, who wanted to be a Knight and that worked out perfectly.”

“Where I was before, I wasn’t really sure if I was getting these looks,” explained Watungwa. “I came back to the EHL, where the goal is getting looked at as much as I could. I knew coming in, this is the spot to do it. The league showcases are amazing in terms of all the scouts that are there. The team and the league as a whole put a whole a lot of effort into moving guys up, which is awesome.”

Once aboard with the Knights, Watungwa immediately made his presence known as an explosive and gritty playmaker. In his first seven games, he scored five goals and two assists while installing himself as crucial piece in all situations.

“He came in, and I thought he was going to be a middle six forward, a kind of a grinder guy, but right off the bat he proved he could be a goal-scorer,” said Fusco. “It let me put him on a line with Tyler Nielsen and Cody Rumsey for a good portion of the season, and that was a really solid combination for us. On the ice, his best skill to me, is his puck handling. He’s a skilled guy and a really strong player. He’s hard to push off the puck. He makes a lot of good plays with his vision. Ultimately his ability to move the puck, to get down low and win possessions for us, and keep it on his blade made him a really essential forward in our lineup.”

“I think I just bring compete level,” said Watungwa. “That’s what I tried to bring to the Knights program, just working hard every shift. Whether it’s making a hit, blocking a shot, making a play offensively or defensively, I’m always going to try to do it at 100%.”

Beyond the stat sheet, leadership is another trait Tyler exudes. It wasn’t lost on his coach or his teammates.

“That early production really grabbed the attention of our locker room,” said Fusco. “His work ethic, his habits, his effort in practice, that all combined to create a really positive influence for our guys. He was the prime example of leading by example. He brought the same effort and enthusiasm every day and really that’s exactly what you want from one of your veteran players.”

With his junior career now over, Watungwa is preparing for his next team, and like his entrance to the Knights, he’s thrilled for the opportunity.

“They (Finlandia) are in a rebuild year, but they are definitely really excited about where the program’s going,” he said. “I was really happy to get in when I could to help be a part of that rebuild. Honestly the big thing I’m excited about is that I get to play hockey for another four years. Obviously I’m excited to go to school, to get that part of my life started, but I get to do a thing I love for another four years, and I think that’s just awesome.”

Under Coach Burcar, the Lions program is looking to get back to its earlier success in his first stint as the team’s bench boss. In the last four seasons of that stretch, Burcar guided Finlandia to a 57-43-7 record, including an MCHA postseason conference championship in 2006-07.

“Finlandia is a tight knit community that loves and is passionate about their hockey,” said Fusco. “They have strong support from the school. Coach Burcar is back there rebuilding the program in a very strong conference and it’s very exciting to send one my players there. It means a lot that I can help move a player to his goal of division III college hockey, but also exciting and sentimental to send him to coach Burcar and Finlandia. It’s a great fit, Joe is excited and Tyler is excited-it’s a perfect fit.”

In parting, Watungwa isn’t going without fond memories. The season may have ended a few games earlier than he had hoped, but he’s happy to have been on for the ride.

“Making 20 new friends,” he said of his favorite part of wearing the Knights sweater. “Every team you go to, you’ve got 20 guys you’re going to war with every night. All those guys in our locker room, I consider brothers. I’d say the relationships that I made over the last three and a half months were pretty awesome.”

His gratitude was not limited to just those he skated with.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my mom,” he said. “She’s been a big part of getting me into sports. She drives me to all these crazy places in the middle of nowhere just to play hockey. She’s been a real inspiration for me. A huge thank you to coach Fusco and the whole Knights organization for giving me the ability to play at a level where I could be in front of all of these scouts and giving me the right coaching and the tools I needed to get to the next level. I want to thank all the teammates that I had this year and past years who helped make me a better player and a better person.”

Fusco shared the sentiment but reversed its direction.

“I want to thank Tyler for being a part of this year with us,” he said. “It takes a special type of player to accomplish what he did in our dressing room and on the ice. He’s an incredibly ward worker, and a great person. I’ll be following his career eagerly, and I wish him only the best in hockey and in his life beyond.”

The Knights join coach Fusco in thanking Tyler and wishing the best of luck at Finlandia and in all his pursuits in life!

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

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EHL: Nimeh’s Late Goal Drives Knights to Victory

(Photo: EHL)

Still chasing fourth place in the South Conference through the final weeks of the 2017-18 regular season, the Knights entered their lone game of the weekend just four points behind their future playoff opponent, the New York Applecore. With New York idle until Monday, the Knights Saturday contest against the Junior Flyers provided an opportunity to climb another step closer to home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stormed out to an early advantage Saturday, dictating the early pace of play. In a period they out-shot Philadelphia 18-9, the Knights built an early 2-0 lead via goals from Tyler Nielsen at 8:58 and Nate Chuckran at 11:26.

Nielsen’s tally was a breakaway set up by Tyler Watungwa and Rhett Padgett in which Nielsen bested Junior Flyers goalie Garrett Stenberg for the 1-0 lead. Chuckran followed suit on a power play several minutes later when Emerson Emery found him alone in front of Stenberg for the quick score.

The Knights appeared to be destined for a 2-0 lead after one, but with 42 seconds left in the first, the Junior Flyers nabbed a late-period strike to halve the deficit. Connor Lenaghan beat Knights goalie Thomas Walker on a scramble around the net created by Billy McDevitt and Drew Platt.

When play picked up again in the second, it was Philadelphia building off the momentum of their score in the first. The Junior Flyers flipped the script, out-shooting the Knights 10-6 and nullifying each of their chances. For their part, the Knights would withstand Philadelphia’s attack for 19 of the second period’s 20 minutes. It would be yet another final-minute goal that would tie the contest. Nick Kiemel rallied the Junior Flyers to their second goal of the afternoon off feeds from Adrian Martinez and Gianni Dini.

Renewed push from both sides saw an uptick in physicality in the third. Each side traded an unsuccessful power play, while Walker and Stenberg stayed steady to keep the score locked at two. With overtime nearly a forgone conclusion, the Knights prepared a final push to close the period. They were rewarded just shy of the 19:00 mark when Jake Nimeh ripped home his sixth goal of the season, with assists coming from Bryan Whelan and Austin Weber.

With a minute remaining, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shut down the Junior Flyers last-ditch efforts to secure the 3-2 victory. The win pulls the Knights within two points of fourth place in the South Conference with two games to play in the regular season. The Knights will next take the ice at home against the Philadelphia Revolution on Friday March, 2nd at 4:00 PM EST. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and easternhockeyleague.org for all news and updates as the Knights prepare for their playoff push!

EHL: Knights Bounce Back to Split Weekend with Oilers

Photo: EHL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EHL: Knights Drop Game 1 Against Oilers

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EHL: Knights Fall to Seahawks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights Blank Bobcats-Royals, Roll to Series Sweep

Friday afternoon kicked off the Knights and Bobcats third meeting of the past two weeks. Winners of the last two exchanges by a combined score of 12-0, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton looked to keep rolling into a three-game weekend.

The game began with the Knights controlling the pace of play. Just shy of the 4:00 marker, Nick Peck flipped a puck to Bryan Whelan, who found Anthony Starzi in front of the net. Starzi pushed his 23rd goal of the season past New York goalie Tyler Shugrue for the opening tally.

A wave of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton chances would continue to bolster a steady forecheck in the first. An 18-shot frame would be capped off by JP Natishan’s snipe at 14:26 off passing from Austin Weber and Jake Nimeh.

In the second, the tempo again belonged to the Knights offense, as the team more than doubled its shot count from the first. Anthony Starzi repaid Bryan Whelan the favor from the first, with the former finding the latter for the 3-0 lead at 8:29. Matt Proski picked up the secondary helper on the goal.

Tyler Shugrue did his part to limit the damage thereafter, but at 16:10 the dam broke open. At 16:10, Tyler Nielsen ripped a rebound past Shugrue for the forward’s 14th tally of the season (Peck, Starzi). Josh Edwards found his first goal of the year exactly one minute later off of a rebound from Matt Proski  set up by a David Pfoestl assist.

Pfoestl decided to join the scoring parade 45 seconds later, when he carried the puck over the blue line, dropped it back to Proski, and then put Proski’s ensuing rebound by for the 6-0 advantage. Cole Wenner was credited with the secondary helper on the score.

In the third, Nate Chuckran tacked on goal number seven, coming off of assists by Tyler Watungwa and Zach Ouladelhadjahmed, putting the contest’s scoring to rest.

At the final horn, the Knights came away with both a 7-0 victory and a series sweep of the Bobcats Royals. The win also brings the Knights back to .500 and keeps them within two points of the New York Applecore for the 4th seed in the South Conference.

Jared Stahel’s steady play between the pipes earned him his third shutout of the season, his second in his last five starts.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to keep the momentum going with a road contest today against the Walpole Express at 4:50 PM EST. Tune in on HockeyTV.com and follow @WBSKnightsEHL on Twitter for in-game updates!

Fuss Scores 100th Career Goal as Knights Win Slugfest with Applecore

Saturday’s meeting of the Knights and Applecore brought with it plenty of EHL playoffs implications. After each team lost their first contest of the week, the onus was placed on this weekend’s two-game series to influence the 4th and 5th seeding in the South conference.

After a stint in the NAHL with the Philadelphia Rebels, Anthony Starzi returned to the Knights Saturday. Also back was Nate Chuckran, returning after serving a one-game suspension for butt-ending.

The offense, rolling since mid-December, saw early benefits from Starzi’s return when the lightning-fast forward collected his own rebound and fired it past Applecore’s netminder Mark Siegel 17:26 into the first period (Jake Fuss, Emerson Emery).

Riding the momentum into the middle period, Jake Fuss kicked off a dominant stanza for the Knights with a milestone. Just prior to the 3:43 marker, Bryan Whelan and Tyler Nielsen pushed a puck to the net front, where through a scrum, Fuss willed the puck over the goal line. The score marked his 100th goal with the Knights program, a monumental achievement for one of the organization’s hardest-working players.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would go on to control a good portion of the period, taking 12 shots and generating their fair share of high-quality chances. Tyler Nielsen would add his 13th goal of the season at 8:39, set up by Cody Rumsey and Tyler Watungwa, building a 3-0 lead.

Matthew Boring snapped the Knights momentum at 15:20, when the Kings Park, NY native powered his 18th goal by Knights starter Thomas Walker (Connor Woolley, Chaz Rometty).

The pendulum swung swiftly to Applecore’s attack, as New York came out in the third with a blistering pace. Brendan Conway and Mark Revniaga would set up Brandon Napoli to cut the lead to one just prior to the 2:00 mark of the period.

Applecore would draw even with their third-straight goal at 6:26, when Brett Reed fed Tanner Dalton on a successful 2-on-1. Brandon Napoli picked up the secondary assist on the score.

The Knights responded at 12:51 when Denys Arkhypenko generated a healthy rebound in front of Siegel that was buried by Emerson Emery for his third goal of the year.

Starzi set up Bryan Whelan less than 30 seconds later to build the Knights a two-goal lead. The Applecore didn’t blink, as Boring picked up his second goal of the night, set up by Logan Scarlotta and Ben Freatman just over a minute later.

New York pushed hard on the Knights backcheck and Thomas Walker in the final minutes including over thirty seconds with the reinforcement of an extra attacker. Walker stood on his head to seal the contest for the Knights, who skated away with the 5-4 win. The victory puts them just one point behind Applecore for fourth place in the conference.

The pair will meet again tomorrow for the finale of the two-game series at 9:30 am EST! Tune in at HockeyTV.com or follow @WBSKnightsEHL and easternhockeyleague.org for in-game updates!

EHL Preview: Knights Look to Keep Rolling with Busy Week Ahead

Photo Credit: Jessica Kovalcin

With three games on the docket this week, the Knights are focused on keeping their hot streak alive and well as the season winds into February. Winners of nine of their last 10 games, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is the current occupant of third place in the Mid-Atlantic division and fifth place in the South Conference. The top six teams in each of the EHL’s two conferences advance to the playoffs scheduled for just over a month away.

“We have to keep playing with emotion,” said Knights head coach Josh Fusco. “I think the biggest thing is the compete level. We’re coming off a good weekend.”

In a two-game series with the New York Bobcats Royals, the Knights picked up a pair of shutouts and four points to keep pace in a competitive South.

“The biggest thing was the compete level-knowing what was at stake all the time with the standings being real tight, playoff implications on the line every day,” said Fusco. “We played good hockey in all three zones both days. I think the backcheck was the best it’s ever been. Our penalty kill was phenomenal-our power play was much, much better so I think we can see the progress there.”

The Knights defense held the Bobcats Royals to just 26 shots on goal, while increasing their season shutout total from one to three. The team was also a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill while registering two shorthanded goals.

“Overall we’ve been stressing to get the puck to the net, to shoot the puck,” said Fusco of his team’s efforts on the other end of the ice. “I thought our defense did a tremendous job of doing that. Our forwards did a tremendous job getting there, generating rebounds and making chances happen. The biggest thing at the end of the day was that we were able to capitalize on their breakdowns and miscues.”

Scoring Leaders Over Last 10 Games
Player G A TP
#11 Jake Fuss, F 9 10 19
#27 Nate Chuckran, F 4 6 10
#14 Tyler Watungwa, F 6 3 9
#2 William Case, D 1 7 8
#10 Nick Peck, D 4 4 8
#18 Alex Morawski, F 3 5 8
#20 Austin Weber, F 2 6 8

The Knights are just three points behind this weekend’s opponent, New York Applecore for the fourth seed in the South, but will start competition this week with a meeting against the owners of the EHL’s best record, the Philadelphia Revolution.

“We’re excited for this Revolution game,” said Fusco. “It’s another chance for two big points. That’s what we’re stressing in practice, when we’re on the bus, and the second we step foot into their building. It’s a mentality of ‘We’re here to do a job and two points is our paycheck today.'”

The Knights are 0-4 against the Revolution this season, but haven’t met since mid-October. Philadelphia enters play today with an 8-2 record over their previous 10 contests, second only in the league to the Knights 9-1 mark in that stretch. The Revolution boast the EHL’s top-ranked offense (4.94 GPG) and second-ranked defense (1.97 GAPG).

“It’ll be a good gauge of where we’re at against a team like that,” said Fusco. “They’re on a roll, they have the league’s highest winning percentage, and they have one of the league’s most experienced rosters. We feel like we owe them. We played pretty well the last time we faced them, but we had a few too many breakdowns. Now we have a very different lineup.  The way we’re competing across the board lately, there’s no reason in my mind that we can’t beat them, so we need to go out there and get it done.  I have 100% faith in my team.”

Goaltending Last 10 Games
Player Record Minutes GAA Saves Shots Save % Shutouts
#30 Thomas Walker 5-0-0 304:34 1.97 133 143 .930 1
#31 Jared Stahel 4-1-0 257:00 1.40 95 101 .941 2
Totals 9-1-0 561:34 1.71 228 244 .934 3

Indeed, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster has gone through several renovations in the time elapsed. It began with Nate Chuckran coming over from the Philadelphia Junior Flyers in the middle of November.

“With Chuck-what more can you say?,” asked his head coach. “He’s hungry, he’s a competitor, he gives 110%. He’s constantly going-the kid’s got a good motor on him.”

The EHL veteran added much-needed experience to the roster while exerting his physical style of play on the ice to the tune of 17 points in the 20 games since his acquisition. His six assists on the power play has helped the Knights man-advantage catapult itself to the league’s fourth-highest success rate at 21.7%.

Unfortunately for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, they will not have him for today’s contest against the Revolution due to a one-game suspension being served for butt-ending. Despite that, Fusco looks forward to leaning heavily on his veteran forward.

“He’s been a great addition,” he said. “He’s got a lot on the line being a ’97. His play’s been showing it and his leadership has been showing it. There’s not a negative bone in his body. He’s going to be a guy who carries a big piece of the workload with the end of the season on the way.”

William Case was added to the blue line just prior to the beginning of December. The 6-4 defender has been an asset to the Knights in his own end as well as on the attack.

“Will Case brings steady, rock-solid defense on the back end,” said Fusco. “He’s starting to find his groove on offense. He’s getting more confident with the puck. He’s making plays, getting pucks going north. He’s stepped up to the plate-the expectations are at a higher level now. ”

Special Teams
Last 10 Games
PP 12 for 37 32.43%
PK 33 for 38 86.84%
Shorties 5 for, 1 Against

Like Chuckran, Case’s impact can be seen on the power play, where he has recorded four of his nine assists since joining the team. His ten total points rank him third on the Knights blue line in production despite having only played in just over a dozen games.

“He’s the go-to-guy on the power play,” said Fusco. “He’s finding ways to get the pucks through. He’s scored, but more importantly he gets the puck somewhere around the cage where we’re driving home rebounds or keeping pucks hemmed in the zone. He’s a great locker room guy. I think he’s been a great addition in that aspect. He’s a ’99, but he plays like he’s a veteran hockey player.”

The Knights next addition was one that Fusco admits he wasn’t overly familiar with initially, with forward Tyler Watungwa. The Ottawa native had spent previous seasons in the EHL before coming over to the Knights from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League in mid-December.

“I’ll be honest and say I didn’t know a whole lot about Tyler before we picked him up,” said Fusco. “One of the reasons we added him was because he was a ’97. He was a veteran of junior hockey and we needed that in the lineup. He’s got a bigger body, he likes to muck and grind, he’s kind of a meat and potatoes guy, but he’s brought the scoring touch as well.”

The beginning of Watungwa’s Knights career couldn’t have gone much better, as he scored in six of his first seven games, recording two game-winning goals in that span. The gritty forward has been an asset to special teams as well, especially on the penalty kill.

“Tyler is probably one of the hardest working guys because he doesn’t stop, said Fusco. “He’s constantly back-checking and constantly playing the position the correct way. He moves the puck, he’s got silky hands-ever since he’s been here he’s been finding the back of the net.”

Mick Heneghan has has bounced his way back and forth between the Knights NAHL and EHL roster, but when with the latter, he’s produced well.

“Heneghan’s received some time with us from the NAHL team, said Fusco. “When he comes in for us, he steps in and fills a role. He’s a great addition. Obviously he’s had a lot of NAHL experience and he has that talent in his game. He’s another guy who’s good with the puck, plays up on the rush, and generates plays.”

In three games in January, Heneghan’s notched a game-winning goal and two assists and has played with a physical edge to accompany his puck-moving ability from the blue line.

“A guy like that who’s willing to come and help out the affiliate team, that’s big,” said Fusco. “It’s not always easy. He’s come in, worked hard and has a great attitude. He brings a lot to the table. He’s been positive the whole time. I commend him for that.”

The final acquisition and newest Knight is forward Bryan Whelan. Picked up from the Bobcats Royals in the middle of January, Fusco is happy to no longer have to scheme against a former nemesis.

“I’ve gotten to know Bryan coaching against him last year and this year,” he said. “He’s another ’97 we brought in. I compare him to a Jake Fuss and Anthony Starzi. He’s speedy, he’s got hands, he can shoot, and he’s got a knack for sticking with the puck.”

The right-handed forward came to the Knights with an already impressive 15 goals and eight assists in 29 games on the season. He’s scored in every game he’s worn a Knights sweater, picking up an additional four goals and two assists in six contests.

“He and Jake Fuss are tic-tac-toe out there,” said Fusco. “I’ve been talking to college coaches. I say ‘I know you’ve been looking at Fuss and Starzi. Well Bryan’s the same way.’ He’s a similar guy. With him, you’re bringing that speed and go-to-guy factor to the lineup. He’s another one that doesn’t stop. He’s been a welcome addition. His junior career is winding down and he wants to win a championship. That’s the mentality we want around here.”

After taking on the Revolution today in what is sure to be a measuring-stick contest, the Knights will head to back to New York to take on the team just ahead of them in the South Conference playoff seeding. Entering Wednesday, the New York Applecore are three points ahead of the Knights in the standings, good for fourth-place in the South Conference.

“Like I said, we know what’s at stake,” said Fusco. “For awhile now we’ve figured that this Applecore weekend would be a telltale sign of what’s going to shake out here at the end of the regular season. We can’t take our foot off the pedal against them. They’re a good team.”

In two prior meetings with New York, the Knights are 2-0, having won both games played between the pair at the Revolution Ice Centre in the first few weeks of the season. Still, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won’t be content to rest on the laurels of their previous results.

Like the Revolution, the Applecore are 8-2 over their past 10 games. Like the Knights, New York will have one contest to play this week before meeting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. After traveling to Connecticut to take on the Oilers Friday, Applecore will host the pivotal two-game Saturday-Sunday series that could play a large role in deciding the first round of match-ups in the South Conference with playoffs set to begin in March.

With their game as good as it’s been the Knights will be ready for the fights ahead.

Today’s 2:00 pm EST contest against the Philadelphia Revolution will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. You can also follow the Knights EHL twitter at @WBSKnightsEHL and visit www.easternhockeyleague.org for in-game updates. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com for all the latest happenings in the Knights kingdom!

Weekend Recap: Knights Roll to Weekend Sweep of Bobcats Royals

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

Heading into a Saturday-Sunday series in Long Island, the Knights looked to extend their winning ways that can trace their roots back to mid-December. Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Knights hit the ground running Saturday night.

In what could be considered their most-disciplined win of the season, the Knights were kick-started by Denys Arkhypenko, who scored the opening tally at the 16:00 mark of the first period (Emerson Emery). In a period that they out-shot New York 17-5, the Knights entered the first intermission with momentum, but the scoring was kept in check by the steady play of New York netminder, Timothy Carpenter.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s heavy presence in the attacking zone would not relent in the second. Two early New York penalties would allow the forecheck to get off to a quick start. Though both power plays would be killed off, the pressure would not relent, finally giving way to Bryan Whelan at 8:44. The forward would strike against his former team off assists from Austin Weber and Jake Fuss.

Nick Peck would keep the momentum rolling with his seventh goal of the season at 14:13 (Zach Ouladelhadjahmed, Rhett Padgett). The team’s fourth score was tallied with 24 seconds left in the period, when Cody Rumsey and Tyler Watungwa set up JP Natishan for the 4-0 lead.

In the third, the Knights power play would put the game to bed. Austin Weber struck just past the three minute mark (Arkhypenko, Emery), followed by Tyler Watungwa, set up by Emery’s third assist of the game, and William Case’s secondary.

At the final horn, the Knights would skate away with a 6-0 win, capped off by Thomas Walker’s 16-for-16 performance between the pipes, his first shutout of the season.

In game two, the rematch saw an earlier start but a parallel finish. The Knights struck first on the afternoon after Rhett Padgett buried a shot from the blue line, extending his point streak to four games (Austin Weber, Jake Nimeh). Tyler Shugrue did his part in net for the Bobcats Royals, facing 23 shots in the first period alone, saving all but two.

The second tally came off the stick of JP Natishan, scoring  for the second-consecutive game, assisted by captain Jake Fuss. The Knights defense did their part, limiting New York to just four shots on goal. Knights starter Jared Stahel stopped all four en route to another solid start for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

In the middle frame, Nick Peck struck for the Knights third goal (Padgett, Arkhypenko). The game took a decidedly chippy turn as each team traded a grand total of 95 penalty minutes. The Knights penalty kill not only survived, but thrived, killing off each penalty they faced. Top cap it off, in the process of killing off a major penalty, Bryan Whelan added a shorthanded goal (Fuss) in the final minute of the second period. Whelan has now scored points (4-2-6) in all five games he’s played in since being traded to the Knights.

In the third, the Knights thwarted another major penalty and added another shorthanded goal. After assisting the first shortie, Jake Fuss recorded one of his own, finishing off a three-point game. The Knights captain has recorded points in seven-straight games.

In the game’s final minute, fresh off games with the NAHL on Friday and Saturday, Tyler Nielsen hammer a puck through traffic, where Jake Nimeh tipped it home for the score. Brady Hanson picked up the secondary assist.

When the dust had settled, the Knights found themselves with their second-straight 6-0 shutout. For Jared Stahel, his 14 saves on 14 shots marked his second shutout for the season.  The special teams excelled as well: the kill was 7-for-7 with two shorthanded goals. The power play went 2-for-7. The 12 total goals were scored by nine different players, and the Knights mounted 107 shots over two games.

With the victory Sunday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has won nine of their last 10 games. They’ll look to keep rolling with a mid-week match up with the Philadelphia Revolution on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 pm EST. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!