Tag Archives: Tyrone Bronte

Knights Enter Final Four Looking to Extend Torrid Run

Written By: Nicholas Marotta

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

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.

Tune into tonight’s game on www.hockeytv.com and follow along through Knights social media and at www.nahl.com.

 

Recap: Knights Complete Sweep, Punch Ticket to Minnesota

On Monday, the Knights had a chance to check off a lot of team firsts. First-ever Final Four birth in the Robertson Cup Playoffs was chief among their goals, but to do it, they’d have to sweep a team they’d never advanced beyond in the postseason.

The Philadelphia Rebels have been the team to eliminate the Knights in each of the past two seasons, completing sweeps in both years. To return the favor would not only be poetic, but a huge step forward for a Knights team that has hit their stride at the perfect time.

Monday’s action was slow-building. The tension of an elimination game hung heavy as both teams began the evening in an extended test of each other’s ability to trade space up and down the ice. Through the first period starters Ryan Keane and Christian Stoever faced a combined 20 shots.

An early test was stopped by Stoever in an eerily similar play to the  Patric Hornqvist’s no-goal controversy in Sunday’s Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins playoff game. Like the Penguins did the day before, the Rebels drove around the back of the net on a wraparound. Playing the part of both Sidney Crosby and Hornqvist, Alex Frye found himself alone on the right post trying to fire the puck to the net. Instead, Stoever’s left skate slid over and stopped the puck on the goal line. Unlike it’s NHL counterpart, there was no debate as Stoever’s stretch clearly kept the puck from crossing the goal line, robbing the Rebels of a grade-A chance.

Around a minute and a half later, the Knights made Philadelphia pay for the missed opportunity. Down low in the offensive zone, Jeff Bertrand shouldered a puck out of the right corner to Adrian Danchenko. Curling back-handed to the top of the slot, Danchenko fought through a poke check before flipping the puck to his forehand and finding Tyrone Bronte in front of the net. The Aussie center found the puck with his back turned to Keane. While the Rebels attempted to check him out of the crease, Bronte let go a  perfect backhand under the crossbar to beat the sliding Keane to put the Knights up 1-0 at 15:32.

The Rebels pushed back and earned a power play in the final minute of the first. The Knights, after being gashed nearly 40 percent of the time by the Rebels man-advantage during the regular season, entered play without having allowed a single power play goal in games one and two. The streak nearly came to an end in the final seconds of the period, where Stoever was pulled out of the net to the left post, making a save through a screen. The rebound kicked straight down in front of an open right side of the cage. As two Rebels converged to try and bury the equalizer, Thomas Farrell came crashing down, diving and driving the puck clear to the corner to end the period.

Farrell’s heroics were crucial as the Rebels channeled the frustration into a fast start in the second. After each team failed to capitalize on a power play, Philadelphia tilted the ice. From around the 5:00 mark on, the Rebels consistently won board battles, forced mistakes, and extended long shifts in the offensive zone.

Just past six and a half minutes into  the frame, on their second power play of the game, Alex Frye took an entry pass from Ryan Patrick around a defenseman, right to the netfront where he was stoned on a pad save by Stoever. The rebound kicked right to a crashing Patrick who was miraculously robbed on a lounging save by Stoever’s glove to preserve the Knights 1-0 lead.

The goalie was finally bested on a shot from Carson Moniz at 13:36. Hemming a puck in at the left point of the Knights zone, Brandon Stanley tossed a puck to a pinching Nicolas Appendino on the left half wall. Appendino ripped a pass to the top of the slot for a waiting Moniz. With a screen in front, the defenseman fired a puck under the crossbar to even the game at one.

Weathering the Rebels blitz that continued through nearly the rest of the period, the Knights finally broke loose in its final minute. Coming over the red line, Joey Verkerke dropped a puck in deep to the left wing corner of the Rebels zone. Jack Olmstead beat his man to the puck before turning back up ice and cutting to the slot. There a backhand shot attempt was deflected right back to Olmstead. His spinning, second try found Matt Kidney parked to the left of Keane, where he shoveled the puck to the twine to retake the lead.

The surge of a late-period, go-ahead goal refueled the Knights attack. After being hemmed in their own zone for most of the second period, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton grew stronger as the third period wore on. Ryan Keane kept them at bay, making several grade-A saves, robbing the likes of Curtis Carlson and Tyrone Bronte on chances in close. The Rebels counter attack was limited by a steady Knights back check that refused a repeat of the second period.

With just under two minutes remaining, the Rebels pulled their netminder following their timeout. A Rebels icing forced Keane back in the net while the Knights ate more time off the clock. In the period’s final minute, Keane (27 saves on the evening) was able to trade his services for an extra attacker. Following Joey Verkerke hitting the empty net’s post on a long shot down the ice, the Knights ended up icing the puck on an ensuing try down the sheet. A late push in the Knights zone by Philadelphia never created the grade-A look they needed, and the Knights held on to earn the sweep and a ticket to the final four.

Christian Stoever’s stellar efforts on a 39-save night, plus an opportunistic Knights offense are emblematic of how hot the team has become after facing elimination in round one. They will await the winners of the remaining three playoffs series, plus a re-seeding of the last four teams before knowing their opponents. You can follow the remaining games this weekend on hockeytv.com, or by following NAHL.com. Stay tuned to Knights social media and www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!

 

Game 2: Knights Ride Offense to Wild Win

The second meeting of the Knights and Rebels in the East Division Finals saw the Knights attempting to hand Philadelphia only their second home losing streak of the year. A win would send the Knights back home for game three and four needing one win to advance to the Final Four of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Things got off to rocky start for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cause. The Rebels entered the game on a mission, and imposed with physicality their presence in the offensive zone. It was never more apparent than at four minutes into the competition, when Eric Olson and Adam Peck maintained a bruising shift below the Knights goal line. The pair kept the puck low through heavy board battles, while the Rebels began to make line changes behind the play. Konur Peterson joined in after Peck fed him the puck and left the ice with Olson to complete the change. Peterson kept the puck for an extended period and fought along the wall through multiple Knights before finally curling out in front of the net and ripping a shot at Christian Stoever. Stoever knocked away the offering but the rebound kicked back to Jimmy Glynn who buried the puck for the 1-0 lead.

The Knights responded. Just past the halfway point of the period, after minutes of quick rushes up the ice, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton capitalized on their building momentum. After Blake Kryska tangled for Luke Robinson rebound, Michael Morrissey corralled the loose puck at the top of the offensive zone and found Jack Olmstead on the left half wall. Olmstead skimmed the puck to Matt Kidney on the bottom of the left circle before Kidney sent the return pass back to Olmstead in the slot. Seeing traffic in front, Olmstead wheeled beneath the right side of the cage and swung back to the bottom of the left circle. There, he turned and fired a sharp-angle shot that found the mere inches of space between Rebels goalie Eli Billing and the post, burying the tying score at 11:23.

Channeling the momentum, the Knights came storming back with just under three minutes later. Joey Verkerke flipped a puck through center ice to Lincoln Hatten just above the Rebels blue line. Hatten chipped it perfectly to the oncoming Curtis Carlson to his left, where Carlson picked it up and drove to the net wide, around a back-checking Bryant Gunn. As Carlson one-handed the puck to the front of the net, Billing threw a poke check on the puck, freeing it from the blade, but kicking it right off the skate of Gunn and back through the five-hole for the Knights first lead.

It would take Philadelphia several minutes of near-escapes from a suddenly humming Knights attack to re-gain their footing. With about three minutes to play in the period, they dug in. The Knights, pressured heavily in their own zone, took to icing the puck consecutively to limit more opportunities from developing. As time ticked away in the first, they found themselves being backed up into their own zone repeatedly, extending long shifts. The Rebels made them pay with just under 26 seconds left in the period.

From behind the net, Rebels postseason points leader Brandon Stanley flipped a puck to the left side of Stoever’s cage. From there, Luke Radetic pushed the puck to the netfront for Alex Frye who jarred it between Carlson, Luke Robinson and Blake Kryska until it popped awkwardly over the shoulders of Stoever, landing in front of the the right post. At this point Stanley had looped back from behind the net and to the bottom of the slot, where he located and popped the loose change home to even the score at two.

Backed by the late-period tally, Philadelphia began the next frame on a hot streak. They pushed possession and drew two penalties in the opening minutes of the second. The Knights responded with two successful penalty kills and several more solid saves by Stoever.

With the Rebels momentum spurned, the Knights suddenly re-gained their own, just prior to the halfway point of the stanza. In a play for the season highlight reel, Adrian Danchenko cleared a puck through traffic on his own right half wall by hammering a puck high off of the glass. Soaring through the air, it came down to the stick of Tyrone Bronte, hitting him in stride, allowing him to settle it just before gaining Rebels blue line. As he fired into Philadelphia territory, Bronte fed Jeff Bertrand on his left wing to finish a 2-on-1 rush. Bertrand let go a shot that scorched through the pads of Billing to give the Knights a 3-2 lead at 9:56.

Two and a half minutes later Bronte would return, this time off the efforts of Blake Kryska to rattle a puck around the board of his own end, followed by Bertrand who chopped it free to Bronte exiting the zone. Bronte would weave his way over the left side of the Rebels line before firing a shot off the body of Kolby Vegara on a rebound that came right back to the Australian forward. With the puck re-gathered, Bronte moved in and ripped a puck inside the right post to build a 4-2 lead, chasing Billing in favor of game one starter Ryan Keane.

The Rebels pushed back down two, forcing their way to their third power play of the period just shy of the 15:00 mark. The penalty came off a failed Knights breakout. Off a turnover, Eric Olson walked in on Stoever. Michael Morrissey raced back and hooked Olson to hinder his shot, but the chance still made it’s way to Stoever who made a crucial save falling forward.

The penalty kill continued its solid work on the penalty that followed, but Stoever would rise again as it’s best member. With under 30 seconds left in the Rebels man-advantage, Alex Frye fired a shot at Stoever that kicked over to an open Carson Moniz on the left circle. Stoever sprawled forward to meet him, sending Moniz tumbling to the ice, but not before he impressively centered a pass to Olson in the slot. Olson flipped a wrister on, only to be robbed by Stoever jumping back the opposite way.

Boosted by their third kill, the Knights pushed back into the final minute of the frame. Just prior to the 19:00 mark, the Rebels attempted to catch Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a change with a home run pass out of their zone that missed an open Konur Peterson. Out of the net, Stoever turned the puck back up ice to Michael Morrissey who lofted a long pass from his blue line to Matt Kidney hovering above the Rebels zone. Kidney’s centering effort to a crashing Luke Robinson was denied by the Rebels back check, but Kidney hopped back into the right wing corner to pressure the puck back up the wall to Morrissey. Morrissey returned the puck to Kidney down low who laced a perfect pass to Jack Olmstead on his off-wing in the low, right side of the slot. Olmstead fired his second goal of both the game and the postseason  across Keane to build a three-score advantage.

Placed in a significant hole to start the third, the Rebels fought tooth and nail to claw their way back-and they very nearly did. As Wilkes-Barre/Scranton moved to protect their lead, the Rebels got their offense rolling again.

The first goal of the period was recorded by the largely the same personnel that scored the Rebels second goal of the game. Through a center ice exchange with Jimmy Glynn, set up by Luke Radetic, Brandon Stanley raced in over the right side of the Knights blue line. Turning in front of the back-checking Joey Verkerke, Stanley launced an absolute rocket, even losing his balance after he let it go with such force, that beat Stoever inside the left post trimming the Knights lead to two just 4:05 in.

The fourth Rebels goal game eight minutes later, when Aaron Maguyon used his speed to give his team’s rally even more fuel. Following a nice save by Keane, Ryan Patrick cleared the puck up the left wing to a racing Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon turned it back to the trailing Patrick on the left side of Knights ice. Playing keep away through a check and an extended tie up on the left circle, Patrick handed it back to Maguyon who just beat Curtis Carlson back to the net, opened the pads of Stoever with a move, and squeezed just under the pads to bring the Rebels back within one.

The Knights, shaken but not beaten, responded with defense. Their backcheck combined with Stoever forced the Rebels back, even drawing a penalty in their own zone which they used to eat two more minutes off the clock. Following timeout with just under two minutes remaining, the Rebels pulled Keane for the extra attacker. The Knights dug in. With the clock ticking all the way down to 13 seconds left, they iced the puck just wide of the open net.

After another timeout, the Knights prepared for one last Rebels push. Morrissey wong the ensuing faceoff and played it to his right wing, but the clearing effort to the top of the zone was intercepted by Carson Moniz. The owner of a deadly shot and plenty of space, Moniz lined and fired a slap shot that Joey Verkerke dove down and blocked out of the slot. The puck came up to the left half-wall, where the Rebels took a second shot that was blocked to the corner by Morrissey. Thomas Farrell found and cleared the puck down the ice to secure the team their wild game-two victory.

The Knights will return home to face the Rebels tomorrow, April 30th at 5:00 PM EDT up 2-0 in the series. A single win will send the Knights to Minnesota for the Final Four of the Roberts Cup Playoffs. Tune in on hockeytv.com and stay up to date with the Robertson Cup Playoffs by following Knights social media, and visiting both www.wbsknights.com and www.nahl.com!

 

 

 

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!

Game 2: Knights Storm Back to Even Series with Titans

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!

Slow Start, Chippy Finish too Much for Knights to Overcome in Game 1

Series openers can set a tone, and if yesterday’s competition is any indication, the Knights and Titans first round will have no shortage of fireworks. Though Saturday’s score reflected a one-sided affair, the contest was hardly lopsided, as shots and penalty minutes flew abundantly from both sides.

The biggest separator between the Knights and Titans was New Jersey’s fast start in the first period, Saturday. With the benefit of home ice and a lively crowd behind them, the Titans controlled play through much of the first frame. David Tomeo earned the start in game one, and was tested early and often. In an otherwise sterling period, the West Caldwell backstop was bested twice on 23 shots.

Just past the 7:30 marker, a Titans combination of Nick Boyagian and Ryan Naumovski, swept in over the Knights blue line. Boyagian passed over to Naumovski on the right wing, where he centered the puck back to the top of the slot for the crashing Jimmy Dowd. The defenseman’s heavy shot rang off the pads of Tomeo who had charged to the top of the crease. The rebound kicked right back to Dowd, whose second try was denied by Tomeo sprawling forward and directing the puck to the side of the net, losing his stick in the process. Boyagian sat in waiting on the near goal post, but his effort to put the loose change home behind the fallen Tomeo missed through the crease. It kicked fortuitously back to Naumovksi, who circled his way to the top of the zone. Narrowly avoiding a shot block effort by Justin Engelkes, Naumovski flicked a quick wrister on goal, beating Tomeo to the back post for the 1-0 lead.

On the Knights third penalty kill of the period, the Titans struck again. The first shot coming from Ryan Wheeler off the cycle was turned aside by Tomeo. The rebound could not be cleared, as Boyagian climbed down the right boards to sift the puck back to the original point man, Wheeler. This time, he connected with Hunter Alden on a crisp pass to the middle of the slot, just past the stick of Reed Robinson. With space in the middle of the ice, Alden pulled Blake Kryska to the bottom of the slot in an attempt to block a shot that never came. Instead, Alden found the now-open Kyler Head at the bottom of the right circle, where the forward ripped a puck through, short side for the 2-0 lead at 18:36.

Resilient, the Knights ended an otherwise quiet period with a bang. After seeing limited action through much of the first, Titans starter Matt Ladd was beaten by the speed of the Knights transition offense. With about 20 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Matt Kidney sent an exit pass up the left wing boards to Jack Olmstead. Olmstead turned and curled a puck through neutral ice to Tyrone Bronte. Bronte gave the puck back to Olmstead as the pair gained the Titans line. From out wide on the left circle, Olmstead sent a perfect centering pass to the crashing Shay Donovan on the back door, where he deflected the rubber home, cutting the lead to one goal with 14 seconds left in the first.

The catalyst of a late-period goal bolstering them into the second, the Knights started the middle stanza with an explosive attack. Just past a minute in, on a seemingly innocent face-off win and charge up the left wall, the Titans were foiled once more by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s transition offense. Luke Robinson shut off Nick Boyagian just after he left his own zone. The loose puck was corralled and swung back to the Knights blue line by Reed Robinson. His pass found Blake Kryska who took a pair of strides before firing a stretch pass off the blade of Lincoln Hatten for what looked to be a routine tip-in. Hardly anything is routine when Curtis Carlson is skating into the attacking zone. Using his speed, the Knights captain plucked the puck off its fortuitous bounce off the side boards. He then blew past both Spencer Stanley and Ryan Wheeler, and with a quick flick of the wrists, ripped a shot across the face of Ladd for the game-tying goal.

From there, the Knights continued their siege of Ladd’s crease. Over the first half of the period, Ladd stood down a flurry of Knights shots, keeping the game even at two. As the Knights chances on goal mounted, so too did the tension and physicality of play.

Tomeo answered Ladd’s steady netminding with strong saves of his own. As the Titans weathered the early Knights surge, they began to create chances back the other way in the form of rushes down the ice. Twice Tomeo robbed the Titans on breakaways. The momentum slowly began to swing back to New Jersey’s effort as they began to breakout more cleanly and more often.

The turning point came just after the 13:00 mark of the second. After fending off shots from Tate Singleton and Zachary Farmeouth, Tomeo was beaten when Faremouth’s rebound was sent back to him from the corner by Hunter Alden. The centering feed allowed Faremouth to tee up a one-timer that was altered by a stick as he connected. The bad-luck puck came up high and off a Knights body in front of Tomeo, completely changing course in mid-air. The arching shot floated over the outstretched stick of the Knights goaltender and into the twine. Just after the puck crossed the goal line, Tomeo was knocked flat by Singleton, prompting a major scrum in the crease. Penalties were handed to each side to create a 4-on-4.

The Titans added a second man to the box after they were caught with too many men on the ice during a line change. The abbreviated Knights 4-on-3 and then 5-on-4 power play was cut just short on a high-intensity sequence of events with just seconds remaining on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton advantage. As the Knights circled the net of Ladd, Tyrone Bronte was laid out by Tate Singleton in the low slot as the Titans regained possession of the puck. On the ensuing clearing effort, Blake Kryska leveled Hunter Alden as he fielded the puck at the center ice logo. Kryska was penalized with a 5:00 major for kneeing.

After an initially neutralizing the first 3:51 of the extended Titans power play, the Knights penalty kill finally buckled. With 7.5 seconds left in the period, Hunter Alden and Ryan Wheeler played catch at the top of the Knights zone before Alden let a shot go that was re-directed through a screen in front by Kyler Head. The puck tucked its way through, giving the Titans a 4-2 lead.

In the third, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton killed off the remainder of the major penalty, but neither side could resist the urge to extend chippy exchanges beyond the whistle. All totaled, the teams combined for 54 penalty minutes-seven minor penalties, three misconducts-sapping five on five hockey, and ultimately working to preserve the two-goal lead for New Jersey.

The Titans added one more goal to their ledger at the halfway point of the third. Kyle Jeffers raced in over the line, and handed a puck to the just-onside Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler alertly found the wide-open Wade Novak crashing through the back side of the zone, where he buried the puck for the 5-2 lead.

Time ran out on the Knights comeback effort as the Titans took game one on the back of physical, emotional effort. A pivotal game two takes place today again in New Jersey at 5:00 PM EDT. Tune in on hockeytv.com and follow along on Knights social media!

Bronte Reflects on First NAHL Season, Confidence Heading into Playoffs

One couldn’t ask for a much better 2017-18 season from Knights rookie forward Tyrone Bronte. Bronte’s regular season started off with a bang, helping him to reach 35 points, including two game-winning goals.  The Australian-born forward said that even he was not expecting himself to put up as many points as he did.

“It set a foundation and and expectation for me throughout the whole season,” he explained. “I wanted to keep up that pace. Unfortunately, there was a 15 or so game stretch where, as a team and personally, it just wasn’t going to plan.”

The Knights struggled through a stretch of games spanning from February into March. Bronte noted that this two-month period was tough on him especially.

“I didn’t score as much as I would’ve liked to, and it’s tough to get back into a mindset where you want to score goals when you haven’t been doing well.”

The team, as well as Bronte, were able to snap this cold streak midway into March.  The rookie attributed a lot of his personal growth during this period to his parents as well as his coaches.

“I talked to some of my old coaches as well as my parents and they helped me to get out of my own head.”

Bronte also mentioned that his conversations with Knights head coach Tom Kowal were crucial in helping him get back to his early-season form. 

“He was good at being understanding, but also being straight with me. He told me, ‘Look, you aren’t playing as well as you were at the start of the season, but you know you can play better.’”

Bronte said he and his teammates tried to have more fun with the game, and that after these changes, they started to play much better as a team.

“It was a season with a lot of ups and downs, but overall I can’t complain.”

Looking forward to the Knights playoff series against the New Jersey Titans, Bronte said that he and the team were familiar with the Titans style.

“We play every team in our division a lot, so all of the eastern division teams are going to know how to play one another,” he said. “It will come down to who wants it more.”

The Knights regular season record against the Titans was positive, standing at 7-3-2.  The last time the two teams met, the Knights were able to take two games in a three-game series, including an 8-1 home victory.  Bronte had two goals and two assists across the three games.

This time around, as often is the case in any hockey postseason, Bronte expects the focus to shift to goal tending. He has faith in the Knights goalies and defense.

“If we can keep the game to a low score against a transition team like the Titans, we feel confident in our ability to put goals on the board.” 

Bronte was also confident in the other members of the team going into the series opener against the Titans on Saturday.

“As long as we’re all trying 100% in practice and carrying that over into the first round of the playoffs, I think that we can achieve our goal.”

Knights Drop Regular Season Finale in Philly

On Wednesday, the Knights had the unusual task of resuming a suspended game. The contest picked up where it left off: the Knights down 2-0 at the hands of the Philadelphia Rebels, midway through the first period. The two tallies came courtesy of Konur Peterson and Alex Frye nearly three months ago in a game that was suspended due to fog.

On Wednesday, Peterson and Frye looked like they never left the January ice. The pair kicked off Wednesday’s continuation by each adding their second goal of the game within minutes of puck drop. The first of today’s action came from Peterson at 10:54, when he bested Christian Stoever off assists from Noah Finstrom and the aforementioned Frye.

Just over a minute later, Tyrone Bronte would interrupt the 3-0 scoring run by the Rebels with his 15th marker of the season, trimming the deficit to 3-1. Adrian Danchenko initiated the scoring play by digging and flipping a puck out of the left corner back to the point for Joey Verkerke. Verkerke’s point shot was re-directed past Ryan Keane by Bronte for the Knights first goal.

That moment proved to be the high point of the Knights afternoon. Just two minutes later, Alex Frye notched his second of the contest off of helpers from Auggie Moore and Finstrom.

Philadelphia didn’t relent. After drawing a penalty from the Knights a little over a minute after Frye’s second goal, the Rebels power play went to work. Jensen Zerban parked himself on the left circle just in time for a rebound to kick over to the dangerous scorer, following a save by Stoever off a Brandon Stanley shot. Zerban buried his 19th tally of the season to build a 5-1 Philadelphia lead. Kolby Vegara notched the secondary helper, and the Rebels cruised into intermission with a four-goal lead.

That lead grew quickly in the second. Konur Peterson initiated a sequence that saw him swiftly slide a pass to Nicolas Appendino in the Knights zone. Appendino found Noah Finstrom, who buried his first goal of the season.

At 6:18, Jensen Zerban fed the puck to Ryan Patrick who put a heavy shot off Stoever’s pads. Carson Moniz swept in to bury the rebound and build a 7-1 Philadelphia lead.

Christian Stoever, despite the goals against, fought hard throughout the contest, improving as the game wore on. Philadelphia’s pace of play slowed, and the Knights improved in their quantity of shots on goal. They were continually thwarted by Keane (25 saves) in goal. Going 0-for-2 on the power play in the period sapped the Knights chances at any rally.

At the end of 40 minutes, the game was well in hand for the Rebels, who sat back on six-goal lead. As a result, the third period was a fast-moving, yet low-chance frame as the Rebels throttled down and protected their advantage.

The Knights held Philadelphia to just nine shots in the third, but only mustered seven in response. Two penalties slowed the Knights attack, though they were able to nullify both Rebels power play opportunities.

As the clock hit zero, the Knights were bested 7-1. The loss was the team’s final game in the 2017-18 regular season, but they’ll take solace in the fact that they are playoff bound. They’ll be scoreboard watching this weekend as they rest, heal, and prepare for the first divisional round of the Robertson Cup playoffs.

Currently the owners of the East Division’s second seed by single point-ahead of the New Jersey Titans-they can finish no better than second, but no worse than third.

If the currently fourth-placed Northeast Generals sweep the second-place Titans in their two-game series this weekend, with the condition that at least one win must be in regulation, the Knights will clinch home-ice advantage through the opening round of the East Division playoffs.

In the event of two regulation wins for the Generals, the Knights would then play the Generals in the first round, with home-ice advantage going to the Knights.

If the Titans win either game, or lose both in overtime/shootout, they will clinch the second seed, home-ice advantage, and will host the Knights in round one.

If the Titans lose both, but one in overtime/shootout, they will clinch the third seed, making them the Knights first opponent, but with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton controlling home-ice advantage.

The Generals and Titans will meet Friday, April 6th and Saturday, April 7th, both games at 7:00 pm EDT, in New Jersey. They will be broadcast on www.hockeytv.com.

 

 

 

Knights Falter in Game Two of Weekend

Revenge had to be on the mind of the New Jersey Titans after seeing their slim division lead over the Knights evaporate Friday. It became very clear, very early on Saturday that the Titans had put yesterday’s 8-1 loss behind them.

Following a Knights penalty just over a minute into Saturday’s contest, the Titans jumped out to a 1-0 lead. After going 0/7 on the power play the evening before, New Jersey pulled the monkey off their back when Kyle Jeffers poked a Kyler Head rebound past David Tomeo. Hunter Alden picked up the secondary apple on the tally.

On the opposite end of the ice, graced with the benefit of a full warm up this night, Matt Ladd started fast in net for the Titans. In response to the Titans attack, the Knights countered with a number of chances through the opening period. Ladd stopped them all on the way to 18 saves in the first.

The Titans tacked on another goal when Hunter Alden, set up by Zachary Faremouth, created a 2-on-1 with Chris Garbe. the latter put home a swift pass from Alden at 8:03 which held to give the Titans a 2-0 lead after one.

In the second, New Jersey kept their foot on the gas, as they came out in much the same way the Knights had in Friday’s second period. Matt Cameron notched his 21st goal of the season at the 5:23 marker, set up on another slick pass from Alden, with the second assist credited to defenseman Eric Manoukian.

Just over a minute later, Gavin Gulash poked a puck through on the back door of Tomeo’s net on assists from Garbe and Faremouth. The score saw Tomeo’s night end, as the Knights swapped him out for Christian Stoever.

Quickly on finding themselves on the wrong end of a large deficit, the Knights responded with urgency, and at times, dominance in the attacking zone. Time and again they were turned away by Ladd, a 6’3″ wall in net. After his appearance in relief yesterday, the goalie came roaring back to rob the Knights on looks they were finishing on the night before.

Adding to their struggles, the Knights saw two mid-period power plays extinguished by a smothering and aggressive New Jersey penalty kill. On the second man-advantage, Kyle Jeffers even drew a penalty to force a penalty shot, shorthanded. Stoever (18 saves), denied the chance, looking stellar despite coming off the bench cold.

The lack of power play scoring sapped the Knights of valuable time in their efforts to build a comeback. Ladd’s dam finally broke when Tyrone Bronte deflected a Luke Robinson shot to the back of the net at 16:55. Justin Engelkes picked up the secondary assist on the score.

Into the third, the Knights offense  slowed after wracking up 38 shots in the first 40 minutes. Ladd stopped all 7 offerings sent his way over the final 20, while the Titans maintained their dangerous transition game. It payed off yet again just under 15 minutes into the third. Kyle Jeffers notched his second goal of the game after Nick Boyagian bounced a puck off a back-checking Knight following a set up from Ryan Wheeler. Jeffers took the loose biscuit and deposited just past the toe of Stoever for the 5-1 lead.

The score held through the final horn, continuing the game of leap frog in the East division as New Jersey hopped back ahead of the Knights for second place. All totaled, the Titans scored five goals on 37 shots and killed off all 7 penalties they faced, a night after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton did the same. With home-ice advantage still very much in play, the two teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday at 7:00 PM EDT in New Jersey. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com 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!