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EHL Recap: Knights Complete Comeback Thriller against Bobcats Royals

A slow start gave way to a dominant finish as the Knights erase 4-goal deficit to stun New York in overtime

It’s not how you start, but how you finish. The famous line may be uttered often, but it makes it no less relevant in the world of ice hockey.

On Monday afternoon’s contest with the New York Bobcats Royals, the phrase had to have been present in the back of the Knights collective thoughts as they watched their opponents race ahead to a 4-0 lead.

Things began clicking for the Bobcats Royals out of the gate, as in the game’s first minute, forward Bryan Whelan hopped on a turnover under the Knights blue line and in alone, made a nifty move in front of Knights goalie Thomas Walker for the 1-0 lead. From there, the Bobcats Royals attack ultimately ran through their captain Matthew Araujo. The left-handed defenseman scored the game’s second goal at 5:44 with a power play rocket off assists from Bryan Whelan and Anthony Zyller.

Arajuo would strike again at 16:18 on another well-placed shot (Thomas Fagan, Connor Blair) to build a 3-0 lead that would hold through the end of the period.

With the Knights looking to turn things around in the middle frame, they came out with an aggressive tempo to start the second, but an offensive zone turnover forced by Araujo led to his assist on former Knight, Louie Kuka’s breakaway goal, putting New York up 4-0 in the game’s first 22 minutes. After the score, Knights coach Josh Fusco replaced Thomas Walker with Jared Stahel in net.

Stahel settled in and made few tough saves to keep the game from getting out of hand. It was around the 15 minute mark of the period that the Knights began to find their stride. As their forecheck gained steam in the attacking zone, the Bobcats Royals took a two-minute penalty for interference, sending Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to their first power play of the game at 15:22. Just 38 seconds in, Rhett Padgett poked and weaved the puck through the offensive zone, before burying it through the traffic in front of New York goaltender Niklas Butchma.

The Knights first goal was quickly answered by an Araujo hat trick assisted by Jason Santoriello and Thomas Fagan 54 seconds later. With the period winding down, the Knights attack refused to quit. At 18:12 Alex Morawski set up Anthony Starzi, who notched his first goal of his junior hockey career, beating Butchma to trim the deficit back to three.

With their forecheck humming through the end of the period, the Knights drew another penalty and power play opportunity with just 14 seconds left in the second. Though they were unsuccessful in scoring on the man-advantage that bridged 1:46 into the third period, the Knights were able to generate sustained offensive pressure and scoring chances. Niklas Butchma’s steady play kept them at bay, as it had for the majority of the first 40 minutes, but the disadvantage of New York having a short bench finally showed its effect in the third period.

The Knights presence in the offensive end of the ice built rapidly in the opening minutes of the frame as the Bobcats Royals were consistently caught chasing in their own end. At the 4:17 mark, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman David Pfoestl fired a missile from the point that banked off a New York leg and past Butchma to bring the Knights within two.

Another Bobcats Royals penalty followed at 4:45, and while the Knights again were kept out of the net by several strong saves by Butchma, their was no shortage of quality chances.

At 8:20 the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forecheck drew their fourth power play of the game, an area that Alex Morawski is quickly turning into a specialty. The Lake Worth, Florida native found the twine for the third time this season, assisted by fixtures Jake Fuss and Rhett Padgett.

Having seen their lead shrink to one, the Bobcats Royals pushed their way back on the attack, but were turned aside by Stahel’s steady relief effort and a Knights forecheck that was quick and dangerous in transition. In a game they had once trailed 4-0, the the Knights drew even when Anthony Starzi, parked in front of the net, tipped home an offering from Morawski at 15:09 for his second goal of the game.

Regulation would prove to be too short to name a winner, as both teams headed to overtime desperate to earn two points. The Knights wouldn’t take long as just 49 seconds into the extra period of 3-on-3, Starzi started a cycle to Padgett who ripped a shot to the front of the net where a waiting Jake fuss tipped it home for the Knights exhilirating win.

The team improved to 3-3 on the young season. They’ll be back at it for a home-and-home on Saturday, September 30th at 2:30 pm and Sunday, October 1st at 2:00 pm against the Connecticut Rough Riders. Both games are free to attend at the Revolution Ice Centre, and the game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @WBSKnightsEHL on twitter and the live box score at easternhockeyleague.org for live updates!

EHL Recap: Knights Lose to Revolution on the Road

Knights can’t solve Logan Kramsky on the road.

The Knights traveled to Revolution Ice Gardens on Sunday to take on a division opponent in the Philadelphia Revolution. The Revolution welcomed the Knights with a quick score in the game’s first five minutes. Justin Meers was able to find the net on a power play with assists coming from Jackson Koblick and Hayden Ford.

The Knights offerings on the forecheck were consistently met by sound play from Philadelphia goalie Logan Kramsky. The Freehold, New Jersey native would prove to be tough to solve all afternoon for the Knights.

Philadelphia bested Knights goalie Jared Stahel at 13:33 when Sam Abouelhana found the net (Jake Faulkner, Martin Kapoian) to build a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

In the second, the Revolution redoubled their approach, mounting 14 shouts on goal, but were turned away each time by Stahel’s steady play in net. The team’s spent a good portion of the period trading zones and penalties, but not goals, as the second period ended with the same score as the first.

With time decreasing and the stakes increasing, the third period became a war of attrition, fought by special teams units. After the eight minute mark, the Knights and Revolution combined for seven penalties.

As both goaltenders continued to shine in the face of grade-a chances, it was Philadelphia’s power play that finally broke trough. At 15:56 it was Déjà vu all over again as, as off a set up by Jackson Koblick and Hayden Ford, Justin Meers fired a rocket past Stahel to create a three-goal advantage.

The Knights didn’t go quietly in the third, pulling Stahel with under two minutes to play, but Kramsky continued his stellar play and in the end, preserved his shutout.

With the loss, the Knights are now 2-3 this season, and currently in third place in the EHL’s Mid-Atlantic division. They will play the NY Bobcats tomorrow at 2:30 pm inside the Revolution Ice Centre. Admission is free and the game can be viewed on hockeytv.com.

 

 

Zach Gielarowski Commits to Robert Morris University Club Hockey

The Knights NA3AHL captain has committed to play for the RMU Colonials Club Hockey program next year. The Colonials are a member of division one ACHA hockey.

Gielarowski was a cornerstone for the Knights blue line this season, registering 25 goals-a league best-and 29 assists in 29 games played at the tier-III level. The McMurray, PA-native also played in four games at the organization’s tier-II level, recording one assist.

Gielarowski will start his college career next fall. The Knights organization is happy for Zach’s advancement and wishes him the best of luck moving forward.

 

Knights Top Titans in Shootout

Carlson, Morrissey, Fuss lead way in thriller

In a season series that has been as even as any in the 2016-17 season, the Knights and Titans met Friday night with the head to head locked in a 5-5 draw. In their 10 prior meetings to Friday night, each team had registered 41 goals against the other, while both squads had five wins, for losses and a loss in OT/shootout a piece. Despite both teams already knowing their final standing and opponent in next week’s first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs, the theme of parity would not end Friday.

With the Knights sloppy out of the gate, the Titans quickly took advantage, drawing a penalty in the offensive zone just 65 seconds into the contest. Less than a minute into the man advantage, Titans captain William Riedell ripped a point shot through traffic past Grant Valentine to put the Titans on the board.

After shaking off the goal and the slow start, the Knights initiated offensive pressure of their own, and began to successfully establish a presence in front of New Jersey netminder Ryan Ferland. Exactly 12 minutes after the Titans goal, Michael Morrissey found affiliate player Tom Farrell cutting to the back post and threaded a perfect pass to the crashing defenseman for his first-career NAHL goal.

In the minutes that followed the Knights would continue to drive hard to the net, creating chances around the Ryan Ferland, forcing the goalie to make several difficult saves through traffic in front. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton offense would rally following a disallowed goal, burying a legitimate score at 16:51 when Curtis Carlson rammed a puck home on the power play.

The Titans would not go quietly into intermission. Sticking with what had worked earlier in the period, Titans defenseman Oskar Stromberg floated a perfectly-placed point shot past Grant Valentine to tie the game at two to close the first period.

In the opening shifts of the second, Stromberg would re-introduce the rubber to the twine, as again the big blue-liner ripped a shot home to give the Titans a 3-2 lead.

The Knights would not wilt. Their forecheck again made a habit of crashing the net and playing the boards throughout the second period. Their efforts were rewarded at 7:02 when Curtis Carlson placed a perfect pass to the front of the net to a waiting Mike Morrissey, who in turned, stuffed the puck home.

Like Stromberg in the first and second period, Morrissey followed up his first goal with the game’s next score in the third. Again crashing hard to the net, Morrissey’s score was set up on efforts from Vince Marino and Paul  Cimilluca to give the Knights a 4-3 lead at 3:02.

Despite dictating tempo for good portions of the period, the Knights would again be foiled  by another disallowed goal and then frustrated further when the Titans tied the game halfway through the stanza. Set up by Stromberg and deft maneuvering down low by Hunter Alden, Gordie Helmuth tucked a puck through Valentine’s legs to draw the score even at four.

Despite Stromberg missing a hat trick off the pipe and the Knights failing to score on over a minute of  5-on-3 advantage, neither team was able to find the game-winner in regulation. This drought extended into overtime even after the Knights had 1:45 of carryover time on the power play to begin the extra five minute period. With both sides deadlocked at the end of 65 minutes, the Knights and Titans headed to their second shootout in as many meetings.

After a high-scoring affair in regulation, the scoring drought extended beyond overtime and through the first nine skaters in the shootout.  Grant Valentine went a perfect five-for-five stopping, Kyler Head, Jordan Kaplan, Greg Malafronte, Gordie Helmuth and Oskar Stromberg, patiently mirroring each challenger and rejecting each of their offerings.

Ryan Ferland was similarly excellent through the first four Knights. The fifth was Jake Fuss, fresh off his first NAHL goal and assist on Tuesday. Fuss moved in from the left circle and crossed the face of Ferland before flipping the puck up and over his stick to seal the win. The win gave the Knights their 29th of the season and their 6th against the Titans.

PLEASE NOTE: Saturday night’s game scheduled for 7:30 pm has been postponed due to a technical malfunction.  The game has been moved to Monday, April 10th at 1 pm at the Revolution Ice Centre.

 

Knights Start Final Week of Regular Season with Win

An afternoon of firsts help Knights to 28th victory

Coming off a 10-day break, the final road game of the Knights regular season was an important dress rehearsal for a team bound for the playoffs in under two weeks’ time. With a mixed road trip to Alaska behind them, the Knights next opponent on tap was hardly one to overlook.

Despite their record, the Northeast Generals have proven throughout the 2016-17 season to be a tricky matchup for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In prior action, the Knights are the only team the expansion Generals have bested twice this season and saw a number of their meetings go right down to the wire. Even more recently, Northeast recorded an impressive east division victory with a 3-2 win over an impressive Johnstown Tomahawks team on March 31st.

A common denominator for the Generals in the challenges they’ve presented the Knights was netminder David Fessenden. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Denver, Colorado-native had played the Knights five times (the first coming with the Minnesota Magicians) recording a 2-2-0 record, with a sterling 0.98 GAA and a .972 save percentage. Never once had the big 6’6” goalie allowed more than one goal in a game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

With the table set for their final meeting of the year, things got off to a slower start than both the Knights and Generals forecheck’s would have cared for. Making his first NAHL start, Knights goalie Liam Murray went toe-to-toe with Fessenden in the opening stanza, holding the Generals scoreless on eight shots. Fessenden was perfect through 18 minutes before Matt Kidney scored the game’s first tally on crisp passing from Curtis Carlson and Sam Antonitsch.

The second period began with the Knights pressing to build off their momentum gained at the end of the first. Though they were ultimately unsuccessful on a power play that bridged the first and second periods, they began to build their supply of chances around Fessenden’s residence. They were rewarded at 2:58 when Paul Cimilluca scored his third goal of the year (Latimer, Robinson).

The Generals did not fold in the face of mounting chances against, and as the period progressed they began mounting a slew of their own, including a number of 2-on-1 rushes. Finally, at the 11:11 mark, Northeast broke their drought when with the help of Justin Jallen and Christian Thomas, Joe Vingi beat Murray for his first goal of the year.

With the lead trimmed back to one, the Knights pushed back with a tally of their own when Reed Robinson and Jake Fuss set up Vince Marino at 15:06. The secondary helper was Fuss’ first NAHL point, scored in his third game as an affiliate player with the Knights after leading the organization’s NA3AHL team with 65 goals, 64 assists and 129 points in 33 games played this year. The Generals would counter with Anthony Mangano’s sixth goal of the season (Weinstein, Bilek) to close out the period and again trim the lead back to one.

With what appeared to be yet another close finish building heading into the third, the Knights returned to the ice with renewed resolve. Markuss Komuls walked the puck down from the blue line and ripped a wrister past Fessenden to kick off scoring in the stanza at 3:26 (Morrissey, Danchenko). Fed by Joe Schuler and Tim Gelatt, Jimmy Elser fueled a buzzing Knights attack at 5:52 by flipping a back hand shot up over the big goalie to build a 5-2 advantage.

Just a minute and a half later, Matt Kidney followed up with his second tally of the game with setup coming from Cimilluca and Carlson. Tim Gelatt and Mike Morrissey continued the onslaught by feeding the puck to a waiting Jake Fuss who found his first NAHL goal on the power play at 11:37.

One power play goal and one first-NAHL goal would not prove to be enough for a hungry Wilkes-Barre/Scranton attack as Elijah Latimer would add another score for both categories at 13:02 (Mike Gelatt, Kidney) to cap off the Knights eight-goal day. Parker Swanson relieved Fessenden following the score, entering at 14:15 in the third.

The scoring would finally come to a close following Colin Bilek finding the twine for a Generals-best 18th time on the year at 15:21, set up on the power play by Anthony Mangano and Kohei Sato. As the dust from a six-goal third period settled, the Knights found themselves looking fondly up at the scoreboard and the scoresheet on their way to win number 28 on the season. At the end of the day, 15 of the 18 dressed skaters for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton recorded a point, eight of whom recorded at least two. In addition to Fuss and Latimer earning their first goals (and Fuss his first assist), Liam Murray made 21 of 24 saves on his way to his first NAHL victory.

The Knights will have little time to celebrate as they close out the regular season with a home-home series with the formidable New Jersey Titans this Friday, April 7th and Saturday April 8th at the Revolution Ice Centre. Friday will be Hawaiian Night at the rink, with Saturday acting as NAHL Billet Appreciation Night. Both games are set for 7:30 pm faceoff. All fans are invited to come out and support the Knights as they charge toward the playoffs.

Knights Bested in Shootout in Kenai River

Knights salvage one point in Alaska finale

In their second meeting of the weekend with the Brown Bears, the Knights were greeted by familiar face. Former Knights goalie Colt Hanks would anchor the Kenai River net in one of his most brilliant performances of the season.

The first period gave Hanks more than his fair share of work. The Knights forecheck peppered their former teammate with 19 shots on goal. He stopped all but one. Before Hanks was bested, Tyler Rock put the Brown Bears on the board with a power play goal at 12:04 (Radetic 16, Butcher 15). The Knights found an equalizer on their own power play when Mike Gelatt (21) Matt Kidney (22) fed Sam Antonitsch his second goal of the weekend at 16:01.

The second period brought shots down to a more reasonable 8-7 Knights tilt and saw each team trade two unsuccessful power plays. Both Grant Valentine and Colt Hanks stood tall with both offenses failing to find the back of the net.

The opening to the third period quickly brought each side’s’ scoring drought to an end. The Knights power play notched their second goal of the evening and fourth of the weekend when Mike Gelatt took his turn at goal scoring in the potent Antonitsch-Kidney line with his 12th goal of the season while the latter two picked up assists. The three forwards have combined for three of the Knights last four power play goals and half the Knights scoring this weekend.

Kenai River would respond seconds later when Luke Radetic collected his second goal in as many days to tie the score at two. There it would settle for the remainder of regulation as each defense buckled down with the support of their netminders. At the end of 60 minutes, Grant Valentine had stopped 23 of 25 to Hanks’ 33 of 35.

3-on-3 time was similarly limited in chances, as the Brown Bears led shots by just a 3-2 margin. The shootout that followed would see both goalies string together three-straight saves before Sam Antonitsch would break through to beat Hanks in round four. Facing the threat of the end of the game and a potential shootout loss, Jack Vincent responded with a clutch goal to force a fifth round. Hanks stoned Mike Gelatt and Anthony Tzveyn put the game to bed by besting Valentine in the bottom of the fifth.

With the shootout loss, the Knights dropped their fifth overtime/shootout game of the season, but salvaged one point. Though the loss is not what they wanted, the team will look to build off one of their strongest special teams’ weekends all season. In their two meetings with Kenai River, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went a combined 4-11 (36.4%) on the power play and 9-10 on the penalty kill (90.0%). Goaltending continues to be a reliable part of the lead up to the postseason with Grant Valentine saving 44 of 48 shots, good for a steady save percentage of .917 on the weekend, in line with his season total of .912.

They Knights will return home for a week without games before making a day trip up to the New England Sports Village to take on the Northeast Generals on April 4th. Puck drop will take place at 1 pm.

Knights Win Chippy 4-2 Affair Over Kenai River

Special Teams, Antonitsch and Gelatt Lead the Way

Coming off a tough weekend in Fairbanks, the Knights entered Friday night looking to reverse the fortunes of their road trip in a meeting with the Kenai River Brown Bears.

The intensity of game three in Alaska was established in the early stages when Knights captain Tim Gelatt dropped the gloves with Brown Bears forward Carter Wade. The bout was quickly followed up by a slew roughing penalties less than a minute later that saw both teams send players to box.

Following an unsuccessful Knights power play, both teams hunkered down and channeled their adrenaline into a spirited, back and forth first period. After going nearly 18 minutes without a goal, Knights blue liner Paul Cimilluca notched his second tally of the season on assists from Paul Maust (25) and Michael Morrissey (8). The first ended in a 1-0 Knights lead on the scoreboard and 10-7 advantage in shots.

The second period began in similar fashion to the first, with an early Kenai River high-sticking penalty setting the tone. The Knights again would fail to score on the man advantage, but would soon be find more opportunities. At 5:02 Dorian Dawson and Jack Vincent dropped their gloves for the game’s second fight, shortly followed by the Brown Bears heading back to the box for a tripping penalty. This time the Knights would succeed on the power play when Mike Gelatt beat Robbie Goor for his 11th goal of the season (Antonitsch 20, Kidney 21).

The Knights followed up their tally with sloppy play, committing three penalties in the five minutes that followed Gelatt’s goal. Despite over a minute on the 5-on-3 kill, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton withstood each infraction, backed by their steady penalty kill and workhorse netminder Grant Valentine making his eighth-straight start. Kenai’s penalty kill got its turn when it withstood 44 seconds of 5-on-3 before killing off two penalties to close the second period.

Entering the third the Brown Bears forecheck found its stride. In the frame’s first 5:22, Kenai River struck twice off goals from Luke Radetic (Kaplan 8, Marzec 24) and Marzec (unassisted). With the game even at two, both teams buckled down once more, with just one penalty coming per side in the period. For the Brown Bears, their lone infraction would prove costly.

With just over four minutes left in regulation, Mike Gelatt (20) and Dorian Dawson (25) set up Sam Antonitsch’s 17th goal of the season on the power play. Vince Marino followed up the eventual game-winner with an insurance tally of his own at 16:31 coming off helpers from Adrian Danchenko (6) and Andrew Jackson (5). The 4-2 score would hold up as Valentine and the Knights back check fended off the last handful of Brown Bear chances to secure the victory.

With the win, the Knights improve to 27-25-4 as they ready themselves for the postseason. Their playoff push is currently being bolstered by a penalty kill that again represented itself well, going a perfect 6-for-6 on Friday night keeping the team firmly entrenched in the league’s top 10 units at 7th with a kill rate of 84.1% . The power play continues to make progress, now up to 16.7% success rate on the season with their 2-for-5 performance against the Brown Bears. The team and its players will get another opportunity to build on last night’s performance with a rematch slated for 7:30 pm Alaska Standard Time/ 11:30 pm Eastern tonight in Kenai River.