Tag Archives: USA Hockey

Knights to Face US National Team Development Program in Blaine Showcase

In September, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will make their annual trip the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota to compete in the NAHL’s annual Blaine Showcase. This year comes with a unique and exciting opponent. The Knights will be playing the US National Team Development Program’s 17-team in an exhibition on Saturday, September 22nd at 7:00 PM CDT | 8:00 PM EDT.

The USNTDP is made up of the most elite junior hockey players in the Untied States. The program competes both at home as well as international tournaments every year. Among the scores of their impressive alumni are Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Cam Fowler, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Brady and Matthew Tkachuk. Jack Hughes was the 17-team’s captain a year ago before jumping to the 18-team last season. He is an early favorite to be selected at the top of the 2019 NHL Draft.

“To have the opportunity to represent the NAHL in a game against the US National Development Program is an honor,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “It’s as strong of a measuring stick as any team could ask for. We feel that by having our team compete against some of the best under 17 players in the world, we give them an opportunity to showcase their skills against elite talent. We’re very excited for the challenge.”

Prior to their showdown with the USNTDP, the Knights will play the Topeka Pilots on Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT | 2:00 pm EDT and the Brookings Blizzard on Thursday the 20th at 1:30 pm CDT | 2:30 EDT. They will not play Friday in lieu of their game against the 17-team Saturday.

The Knights will attempt build on last year’s Showcase winning percentage after they finished 3-1. The team is just over a month and a half away from the start of the he regular season.

For the full Blaine Showcase schedule, click here

For all Knights news and happenings, follow @WBSKnights on Instagram and Twitter, Like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Hockey on Facebook, and visit www.wbsknights.com!

NAHL Sets New College Commitment Record

For the fifth straight season, the North American Hockey League has broken its own commitment record, sending 312 players and counting to college over the past year. 16 past, present, and future Knights are among those committed to college to play hockey and receive an education:

Jeff Bertrand Penn State (Big 10, D1) *
Tyrone Bronte Bemidji State University (WCHA, D1)
Curtis Carlson Nichols College (CCC, D3)
Paul Cimilluca Wilkes University (UCHC, D3)
Justin Engelkes Miami University (NCHC, D1) *
Thomas Farrell Army (Atlantic Hockey, D1)
Anthony Firriolo Army (Atlantic Hockey, D1)
Mike Gelatt Skidmore (ECAC East, D3)
Greg Japchen University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC, D1) *
Matt Kidney Salve Regina (CCC, D3)
Paul Maust Mercyhurst College (Atlantic Hockey, D1) #
Mike Morrissey Colby College (NESCAC, D3)
Jack Olmstead University of Michigan (Big 10, D1)
Reed Robinson Niagara University (Atlantic Hockey, D1)
Christian Stoever Merrimack College (Hockey East, D1)
Gabe Temple Michigan Tech University (WCHA, D1) *
* 2019-20 ## Alumni

Click here for the full story

Commitment Record-2018

 

Knights Trade for Tendered Defenseman, Jordan Strand

Shortly after their 2017-18 season came to a close, the Knights made a trade for 2018-19, acquiring tendered defenseman Jordan Strand in a trade with the Chippewa Steel (formerly the Coulee Region Chill).

The 19-year old spent most of 2017-18 as a key presence for a Sioux Falls JR. Stampede U18 team that went to the NAPHL’s playoffs this past February. After a regular season that saw him record a goal and eight assists in 15 games, Strand produced at a point-per-game rate on the biggest stage, scoring two goals and four points in four playoff games. Offense however, is his not his primary focus.

“I’m more towards a two-way defenseman, he said. “I take care of the d-zone first. That’s my main goal; to shut down the other team’s top line and then chip in on the offense too. I go into every game with the mentality that I really, really enjoy playing the good teams and shutting down their top players. Coming from Minnesota high school hockey, we had a bunch of top-notch players and that was my favorite thing. Going against these guys that get drafted in the NHL or are going division one, and I go against those guys and shut them down. When I’m on the ice, I just want to make sure those top guys don’t get points. For the offensive side, I guess I go into every game hoping to get a point or at least help my buddy or my line mate get a point, but I like to be a shutdown d, that’s my main thing.”

“Jordan is a steady shutdown defenseman that has the ability to log big minutes on the back-end,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “We are excited to add Jordan to the right side of our defensive core.”

Strand has already had a taste of NAHL hockey, after playing a pair of games with the Minot Minotauros in 2017-18.

“Last year I was kind of going in blind,” he said. “I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. From my high school, I’m one of the first players to go on to play junior in quite some time. Now I know what I’m getting into. Playing in Sioux Falls this past year has gotten me way more prepared to go into it. Seeing the NAHL practices with Minot, playing in games, you realize how fast it is. That’s prepared me for this offseason training and going into next season.”

So what does the Cottage Grove, Minnesota native know about a junior hockey team from Pennsylvania? The Knights most recent trip to the State of Hockey grabbed his attention.

“I heard a little bit,” he said of the Knights. “The teams that made it to the Robertson Cup final four, I was looking up. Being with Minot, I knew about Wilkes-Barre. I knew that they were a good team, a talented team. I didn’t know about the coaching staff, or where they were located, before I was traded, but I knew they were good.”

“Nowadays you can’t have enough skill on the blue-line,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We wanted to add a player with Jordan’s ability to play good defense in his own zone, while also having the ability to transition into a playmaker up the ice. Bringing him into the fold helps not only our defensive depth, but continues to add versatility to our team as a whole. It was an easy trade to make.”

In trading for Strand, the Knights believe the benefits extend beyond just the ice. A former captain for Park High School, Strand leads by example.

“I’m not really a big talker, I like to show it on the ice,” he said. “That’s my big thing, my work ethic. I like to go in and try to motivate guys on my team to work harder because of my work ethic. I do less talking and more working. Some guys are good at the talking part, but I’m more of the work-hard, guys notice it, and then they work hard as well.”

With the opportunity to secure a place on an NAHL roster, Strand is motivated to achieve not only his personal ambitions, but to help continue the Knights ascent, heading into their fourth season in the NAHL.

“Team goals-obviously you want to go to the Robertson Cup and win the Robertson Cup. That’s my big thing, I love winning. Coming from a team this past year that made it to nationals for U18 and made it a good, successful year. I really loved it. I want more, so I’m hoping to win that Robertson Cup. Personally, I want to start talking to colleges. Get a college offer, and if that doesn’t come this next year, than the year after. I’d also like to get 30 points or so this year, play on the power play, be a good team player. That’s my goal.”

The Knights will get their first chance to see Strand at their rink, when the organization holds their main camp on July 20th at the Revolution Ice Centre. Strand will have the opportunity to make a team that shares his aspirations of winning a Robertson Cup.

“I’m just really looking forward to it,” said Strand. “I’ve heard really good things about the coaching staff, really good things about Wilkes-Barre. I’m really excited to get out there and get going.”

Dawson Bradford Signs Tender with Knights

The Knights added another player to their offseason roster last week with forward Dawson Bradford agreeing to a tender for the 2018-19 season. Bradford is a prospect from the Dallas Stars U16 program out of the T1EHL. The Stars are the same program that produced Knights veterans Reed Robinson and Lincoln Hatten, along with William Otwell, a Knights draft pick last Tuesday, a teammate of Bradford’s.

“We have some really great players, and they do a great job bringing in guys early at the 14, 15, and 16-year old levels,” said Bradford of the Stars program. “I’ve had really great coaches here, and they’ve come in and have really helped me develop. Everything about Dallas is about hockey, and they continue to bring in some really talented players.”

Bradford is no exception.

“Dawson plays a very heavy game, especially for a player that is on the smaller side,” said Knights assistant GM Justin Schreiber. “He is one of those guys you hate to play against.”

“I’d say I play tough and hard,” said the forward who has recorded 24 goals and 37 assists over the course of his last 65 regular-season games. “I’m not the biggest guy-I’m pushing 5-9, 160 pounds. I try to play bigger than I am. I like to play a rough game, get in front of the net, get in the corners and battle out, throw the body around and try to be a presence out there that’s hard to play against.”

“He plays a hard-nosed North-South style and is able to fill multiple roles throughout a lineup,” added Schreiber. “We are excited to add a player of Dawson’s ability to our organization.”

A native of Flower Mound, Texas, a town just outside of Dallas, Bradford is no stranger to the Knights.

“I really started gaining interest in the Knights with Coach Kowal coming down to Top Notch in Dallas the last few years,” said Bradford. “One of my good buddies and former teammates is Lincoln Hatten, who’s already on the Knights. I’ve stayed in touch with him. He’s told me how it’s been there-we hang out when he’s back-he said it was awesome. You get to go up there and really get the junior hockey experience. I’ve really heard nothing but great things.”

“There’s a lot of good hockey players that come out of the Stars program,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We’re happy to have had a few on our roster over the years. We’ve seen enough of Dawson to know that he’s a guy that shares a lot of traits we look for in our players. He’s a younger guy, but he plays with the toughness and tenacity needed in our league.”

With Bradford comes the aforementioned William Otwell, a Knights fourth-round pick in the 2018 NAHL draft. The pair combined for 25 goals and 41 assists in 2017-18 for the Stars U16 team.

“He’s actually one of my closest buddies on the team,” said Bradford. “We’re always hanging out. We skate together during the week and workout on the other days. We talked about it. We’re both super-excited. Once Coach Kowal offered me the tender and I accepted it, I knew he was talking to Will at the same time, telling him he had some potential draft interest in him. Once he got picked it was a pretty cool thing. We’re actually going to be coming up to camp together. I think it’s pretty cool, especially if we make it on the same team, to have that familiar face to start with.”

“As an organization, we make it a priority to move our players onto college and higher levels of hockey,” said Kowal. “We  jump at the chance to bring in guys who might be younger and new to junior, but have a skill set we can help develop. It’s a win-win when we can put a talented young player in front of scouts while also knowing that player is going to help us win hockey games.”

With a little over a month before Knights main camp, Bradford is excited to get started on carving out his role on a Knights team that is fresh off it’s best finish in its NAHL history.

“I think the ultimate goal is ultimately to get to the Robertson Cup,” said Bradford. “I think coming up short this year will ultimately add some fuel to the fire for the returners. I just want to come in and give it my all and prove to everyone that I want to be there and that I want to take the next step in my career. I want to try and do everything that I can to help the team move on and reach that end result which is winning the Robertson Cup.”

The Knights report to main camp at the Revolution Ice Centre on July 20th. To stay up to date with all Knights news, notes, and transactions, follow the team on the social media:

Facebook: WBS Knights Hockey

Instagram: wbsknights

NAHL Twitter: @wbsknights

EHL Twitter: @wbsknightsEHL

Youtube: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

 

Knights Select Eight in 2018 NAHL Entry Draft

12 college commitments, six USHL Draft Picks, one East Division Championship; it’s a mantra that is repeated inside the Knights organization nowadays. The 2017-18 NAHL campaign ended a month ago. The group that left the Revolution Ice Centre in May set the bar higher than any previous group.

“Any time you have a team as talented as we did last season, you have to anticipate replacing a lot of players,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “Our staff did a great job scouting, recruiting and drafting last season. The challenge is to do it again. I’m confident in our ability to reload our roster and build a team that will allow us to not only make another run at the Robertson Cup, but also move a lot of players on to higher levels.”

With eight picks in Tuesday’s NAHL Entry Draft, the Knights believe they’ve added eight players that will help raise the bar even higher in 2018-19.

Round 1, Pick 13: Zach Stejskal, Goalie:

Draft day 2018 began with the selection of Zach Stejskal, an 18-year old goalie from Minnesota. Fittingly, the Knights trip to Skejstal’s home state for the Robertson Cup Final Four came thanks in no small part to stellar goaltending.

“We had a chance to take an established junior hockey goaltender that has already committed to a very good Division I school,” said Knights assistant GM Justin Schreiber. “With both of our goalies being drafted to USHL teams we felt like that was an area we needed to address early in the draft.”

Standing at a towering 6-4, Stejskal boasts an impressive resume complete with 32 games played in the USHL plus the aforementioned NCAA DI commitment. Last year he announced his commitment to the eventual 2017-18 NCAA National Champion Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

Round 2, Pick 37: Evan Orr, Defenseman:

Orr joins the Knights from a Little Caesars program that has produced an abundance of successful players for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The puck-moving blue-liner produced seven points in 11 games playing at the U16 level last season. For the past two years, Orr has also spent summers participating in Team USA development camps, most recently playing five games in the Selects 16 age group. Now 17, he’s already committed to a DI program in his home state, where he’ll one day join Michigan Tech.

“Evan has one of the best shots for a younger defenseman that our staff has ever seen,” said Knights assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “His poise with the puck and ability to run a power play make him one of the top ’01 born defensemen out of Michigan. We are very happy to have Evan part of the Knights organization.”

Round 3, Pick 51: Davis Pennington, Defenseman:

With their first selection in the third round, the Knights went right back to the well for another left-handed defenseman from Michigan. Davis Pennington hails from the Detroit Honeybaked youth program after spending prior seasons with Belle Tire.

“Davis is a solid two-way puck moving defensemen who likes to join the rush offensively,” said Whiteside. “He’s been a big piece of the puzzle for every youth team he has skated for in Michigan. We are excited to add Davis to our already offensive blue line.”

Like Orr, Pennington has spent time developing at USA Hockey Camps in each of the past two summers. Playing for Honeybaked in the HPHL last season, Pennington picked up an impressive five goals and nine assists in 16 games played.

Round 3, Pick 61: Mathew Kahra, Forward:

With their second third round pick, the Knights added their first forward of the 2018 draft class, Mathew Kahra.

“Mathew is a pugnacious, yet skilled forward who is always around the puck,” said Whiteside. “His high compete level and playmaking ability makes him a threat in all three zones. He will provide us with the depth needed at the center position next season.”

The ’99 from Brighton, Michigan snipes well with his left-handed shot as he recorded 13 goals as a part of a 30-point season for his high school in 2017-18. Also playing in the Michigan Developmental Hockey League, Kahra averaged over a point per game, scoring 3-7-10 in nine contests for MDHL White last season.

Round 4, Pick 76: Beck Moore, Forward:

Advancing through the age brackets of the Colorado Thunderbirds hockey program over the last several years, Moore has made a name for himself with his well-rounded play.

“Beck is a physically imposing winger who has good size and moves really well,” said Schreiber. “He’s your typical power forward that plays a little bit of a heavier game but he has shown the ability to score and set teammates up as well.”

After being a member of a Thunderbirds roster crowned T1EHL U16 champions in 2016-17, Moore was named assistant captain of his 18U team in 2017-18. He went on to record nine goals and 25 points in 34 games before being drafted by the Knights.

Round 4, Pick 78: Samuel Vyletelka, Goalie:

After seeing both goaltenders from their 2017-18 roster drafted into the USHL last month, the Knights made it a point to restock their crease with premium talent. After adding Stejskal in round one, the Knights picked up their second goalie and second Little Caesars player of the draft.

“Samuel is an extremely athletic goaltender with quick reflexes and a tremendous ability to track pucks,” said Whiteside. “His experience at the international level with Slovakia will do nothing but help him at the NAHL level.”

A native of Slovakia and a past participant on their U18 roster in the Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Vyletelka brings size and skill between the pipes. In 30 games at the AAA level for Little Caesars last season, he kept his GAA to a sterling 2.03, while also maintaining a save percentage north of 90% at the T1EHL level.

Round 4, Pick 85: Will Otwell, Forward:

Otwell joins Reed Robinson and Lincoln Hatten as another player from the Dallas Stars hockey program to be recruited by the Knights.
“William is a very similar player to Lincoln Hatten who we drafted out of the Dallas Stars U16 program a year ago,” said Schreiber. “He has the power forward frame but is very skilled and can skate. He has a ton of potential as a late 2001 birth year.”
Already north of six-feet tall as a 16-year old, Otwell used his impressive size and talent to notch 11 goals and 13 assists in 36 games for the Stars last season.

 

 

Round 5, Pick 109: Ross Bartlett, Forward

With their final pick in the draft, the Knights added forward Ross Bartlett. A true veteran of junior hockey, Barlett comes to the Knights with plenty of experience. Over the past four years, the Florida native has played in 140 games across multiple junior leagues.

“Ross is an extremely skilled forward who has a ton of junior hockey experience,” said Schreiber. “His 100+ points in the Western States Hockey League last season speak for themselves.”

In 51 games in the WSHL this past season, Bartlett recorded 41 goals and 63 assists for the Ogden Mustangs.

Adding four forwards, two defensemen, and two goalies, the Knights have taken another significant step toward building their next contender.

“We came into the draft with a list of names we believed would help make our team better,” said Kowal. “We left the draft with those names on our roster heading into main camp.  We’re excited to get to work.”

Game 4: Stoever Stuns Titans as Knights Force Game 5

Facing win-or-go-home circumstances, the Knights made a stand Saturday night. Christian Stoever summoned his finest performance of the year and Gabe Temple continued his tear through the Robertson Cup Playoffs on the way to a Knights 1-0 victory.

In game four, Stoever squared off against his game three counterpart, Matt Ladd. Ladd entered play with two victories in the series, looking to add a series-clinching third. He was strong in the pipes yet again, making 37 saves on the evening, but the lone shot that bested him proved to be costly.

The score came at the 12:59 marker of the first period. On the game’s first power play, Gabe Temple fired a puck on net. The rebound off of Ladd’s save kicked over to a crashing Jack Olmstead on the back door, who jarred the puck across to Curtis Carlson on the opposite post. Carlson’s shot was denied by Ladd as well before the rebound kicked back to Temple in the slot. Temple ripped home the game’s first and only goal, extending his goal streak to three-straight games.

For the remainder of play, the Knights and Titans exchanged hits, penalties, and grade-a saves. Things built to an especially chippy ending the final five minutes of play. Through a host of penalties, scrums, toe and glove saves by Stoever, the Knights fought off the Titans attempt to tie the game including a final 1:10 with the extra attacker on. When the dust settled, the Knights had evened the series at two games, forcing a game five this evening in New Jersey.

Puck drop for the winner-take-all affair will take place at 5:00 PM EDT. You can watch the game online at hockeytv.com, or follow along with Knights social media and www.nahl.com.

 

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!

Matt Schaumburger Signs Tender with the Knights

On Thursday, the Knights agreed to a tender with Michigan forward Matt Schaumburger. The 18-year old currently plays for the Metro Jets in the NA3HL. In just 20 regular season games, he scored 19Sc goals and 30 points.

“I would describe myself as a power forward,” said Schaumburger, “I’m somebody who tries to do the right things out there. I take the puck hard to the net and try to get back on the back check hard. I think my hockey sense is the best part of my game. I think the game well and make smart plays.”

“Matt’s a skilled forward that has a high ceiling,” added Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “His numbers back that up, but his all around play stands out as a great fit for our team.”

Schaumburger and his teammates have been rolling on the ice of late, as the Metro Jets will play tonight in the semi-finals of the Fraser Cup Playoffs. A win would place them in the Fraser Cup Championship tomorrow at 1:30 pm EDT. In four playoff games, Schaumburger has notched one goal and two assists, with the tally being a game-winner on St. Patrick’s Day.

“It’s the coaching,” said Schaumburger on what’s helped him grow in the NA3HL. “I have great coaching here. They’ve taught me the game well, what to do in different situations. I learned and became a smarter hockey player from them.”

“The NA3HL has a lot of talent,” said Kowal. “They’re a part of the NA family, and when we can help advance a player up that ladder through our organization, it only makes us all stronger. We’re excited to have Matt join the Knights family and have the opportunity to make our team better.”

Schaumburger is excited to get to work.

“I know the Knights are a good organization that moves guys on,” he said. “I’m just excited to be a part of it and give it my best.”

The Knights welcome Matt to their organization and are looking forward to his arrival and assisting him in furthering his hockey career!

Michael Morrissey Commits to Colby College

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Cimilluca Commits to Wilkes University

Knights defenseman Paul Cimilluca committed to the Wilkes University Colonels on Monday. The 97-born defenseman will start his college career next year with the Colonels in their inaugural season in NCAA division III.

“I like that it was close to home,” said Cimilluca of Wilkes’ nearby campus. “It’s a college community, there are something like 10 schools around the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area and a lot of life. It’s a good place for a school, especially in division three. They’re a small school, investing in itself and their sports programs.”

The Colonels will be coached in their first season by Brett Riley, a former forward for Hobart College.

“Coach Riley is a young up-and-comer,” said Cimilluca. “He’s got an impressive history-he turned Albany Academy around in his last job. He comes from a great hockey family with a lot of ties to Army and the collegiate level. His father coached at Army and his grandfather coached both there and Team USA to a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. Needless to say Coach Riley knows his hockey. He’s 100% all-in. That really was the biggest reason I committed to Wilkes.”

Cimilluca is in his second season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights after being a  second-round selection in the Knights 2016 NAHL draft class. The New Jersey native has compiled 15 points in 82 games with the team, playing minutes in all situations.

“Paul has been a great competitor for us from day one,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He brings a steady, physical game to our blue line and he enjoys challenging the other teams’ top players. That’s the attitude we want from our defensemen. As a veteran he’s also done a nice job introducing younger guys on our team to the style of play and toughness that is needed to play in the NAHL.”

“I owe it all to the NAHL,” said Cimilluca. “They’re arguably one of the best leagues in junior hockey. The top-end teams can compete with teams in the USHL. You have a lot of older junior players that are going to be division one or high-end division three guys. I think that really helps me heading into college, having competed against guys who will be playing at the same or higher levels of hockey. Battling against D-I guys like Jack Olmstead, Tyrone Bronte, Reed Robinson, Justin Engelkes, Anthony Firriolo, Gabe Temple every day in practice-that’s been the best thing for me. It gives me a lot of confidence, knowing I’ve prepared myself against that level of talent.”

Cimilluca will finish out his final months as a junior hockey player with the Knights, a team hungry for success in their third year in the NAHL. He is committed to helping them achieve the highest of their goals.

“I want to be a Robertson Cup Champion, plain and simple,” he said.

“I’m proud to see Paul commit to Wilkes,” said Kowal. “They’re getting a strong player and leader for their first NCAA season and beyond. With him going to school just a few minutes away, it won’t be hard to root for Paul. I look forward to following his college career!”

“I’d really like to thank all the coaches that helped me get to this point in my career, especially Hockey Essentials, The New Jersey Avalanche organization, Bloodline Hockey, and the WBS coaching staff,” said Cimilluca. “I’m looking forward to making an impact at Wilkes University.”

The Knights organization is happy to congratulate Paul on his commitment and thank him for his years of hard work and play on the ice. They are excited to root for him throughout his collegiate career!