Tag Archives: WBS Knights

EHL Recap: Knights Open Season with Point, But Shootout Loss

The Knights opened their EHL season Wednesday with a road game against the East Coast Wizards. Things got off to a good start when late in the first, Johnny Jackson broke up a point pass in his own zone. The 2000-born forward raced down the ice on a breakaway before besting Wizards netminder Kevin Dacey for the 1-0 lead.

Trent Pitser would come back with the equalizer at the 3:44 mark of the second period for East Coast, when the forward took a pass from defenseman Patrick Rossetti and put it by Knights starter Thomas Walker.

Following a dust up between players for both sides that resulted in a Knights power play, the Wizards drew up some shorthanded magic late in the second, as Harris Colvin beat Walker off assists from Isaac Leslie and Luke Pepin.

Deny Arkhypenko would respond for Wilkes-Barre to open the third, scoring almost immediately after the opening faceoff to even the game at two. That’s where the score would stay for the remainder of regulation and overtime as both Walker and Dacey refused to blink.

In the shootout, James Nash would score for the Wizards on a slick deke in round one, only to be matched by Johnny Jackson going fiver for the Knights. Round two saw Isaac Leslie rip a goal through for the Wizards to take the 2-1 lead. Kevin Dacey shut the door on the Knights final two shots to secure the victory.

In the loss, Thomas Walker was excellent, stopping 34 of 36 shots. The Knights will look to bounce back tomorrow morning at 10:45 am eastern when they face the Seahawks Hockey Club at the Tony Kent Arena in Massachusetts. Tune in on hockeytv.com!

NAHL Recap: Knights Fall 4-3 in Overtime to Open Showcase

The Knights touched down in Minnesota to meet the Topeka Pilots for game one of the NAHL’s annual Blaine Showcase. The contest kicked off with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton controlling the early tempo, outshooting Topeka 10-5 in the first 20 minutes of play. It would be the Pilots however that would strike first.

13 minutes into play, Zeke Zeier broke up a Knights pass in his own zone, speeding up the ice and onto the attack. In the left corner of the Knights zone, Zeier turned the puck back up ice to teammate Dallas Tulik. In similar fashion to a goal scored against the Knights last week, Tulik juggled a puck in his skates and onto his stick, avoiding Knights pressure all the while. Once cleanly in space, he fired a shot past Knights starter Zach Stejskal to build a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later, number four for the Knights notched goal number one of his junior career. Off a faceoff, Gabe Temple and Sacha Guillemain went to work on the side boards. Guillemain found the puck off of Temple’s poke check, and fired it across the ice to the wide open Davis Pennington. Pennington roofed the puck under the bar, popping Sam Metcalf’s bottle up into the air to knot the game at one.

In the second period, the Knights would capitalize on a carry over penalty to grab their first lead of the game. Behind the net, Jake Fuss would win the puck off the wall to a fast-moving Sacha Guillemain. The latter popped out on the left post, and flipped the puck across the slot to a crashing Gabe Temple. Temple shoveled the puck by Metcalf for his first goal of the season and the Knights 2-1 lead.

Through an evenly played middle period, Metcalf and Stejskal hunkered down to keep the score close. The third period would change the narrative.

The Pilots would surge ahead in the middle of the frame. At 9:09, Tulik would strike for his second goal of the afternoon set up by Quinn Green. A few minutes later, Zeke Teier would notch his second point of the day and first tally of the season when he was set up by Joel Brandinger and goalie Sam Metcalf.

The Knights wouldn’t trail for long. On another power play, Luke Robinson found Sacha Guillemain, who sent a pass to Temple for the game-tying goal. Both forwards would finish with three points on the day.

The score would remained locked into three-on-three overtime. After a brief exchange that ate the first few minutes, Topeka would find the game-winner. Brenden found Brendan, as Rons fed Schultz for the game-winning goal past Stejskal.

The Knights earned their first point but will look for their first victory tomorrow when they take on the Brookings Blizzard at 1:30 PM central. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and follow along on Knights social media!

Preview: As they Arrive in Blaine, Veterans Look to Lead Knights to New Heights

Photo: Jessica Kovalcin

The Knights opened their regular season this past weekend with a pair of contests against the Johnstown Tomahawks. Neither game went the way the team wanted, but the experience each game provided will serve the team well moving forward.

According to eliteprospects.com, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s roster is the youngest the NAHL when considering the average age of their players. Of the 25 that make up their team, six made their junior hockey debut last weekend. Another six have played in 20 games or less, meaning all would be “rookies,” by NHL standards. In stark contrast, the other half of the roster has combined to play a staggering 947 games in junior hockey. Many of these veterans nearly tasted Robertson Cup glory and few months ago. They’re eager to not only go back, but to bring their young teammates with them.

“You want to be a leader,” said defenseman Luke Robinson. “You want to fill the leadership role. It’s definitely an adjustment period. There’s some younger players with us this year. I can relate to what they’re going through. In practice if they have a bad pass or if they’re nervous going into a drill, I can kind of just talk to them and say ‘Hey, I was in the same situation and I was nervous doing that also. Just work through it and it’ll work out. There’s a reason you’re here-you’re talented enough to be here.’”

Robinson was third on the blue line last year, picking up a goal and 16 points in his first full season with the Knights.

”I want to be some one they can look to. I want to make sure that when I’m on the ice, I’m doing the right things so they pick up on that and realize how to be successful at this league, or how to work your way up the lineup, you have to be doing these things. Working out, stretching, warming up, taking shots after practice, things like that. I want to be that  leader, someone they can look up to, just being a good example.”

Robinson is joined by fellow right-hander Shay Donovan on the blue line, whose resume includes 105 games played in the NAHL.

“Yea I plan on it,” said Donovan on stepping into the role of a leader. “I plan on setting a tone early on, leading the young guys, showing them how you prepare for the season, how you handle yourself in the weight room, on the ice, however that may be. The older you get, the more games you have played and the more that becomes important.”

Lincoln Hatten is a 2000-born forward with more than just a powerful build. In his first season, the forward would join fellow rookies in becoming a catalyst for last year’s postseason run. The Texas-native scored a goal in the semi-finals against the eventual Robertson Cup Champion Shreveport Mudbugs.

“We just have to stay focused throughout the season,” said Hatten. “The grind never stops. You’re going, going, and going, but I think when we got to the Robertson Cup last year, we kind of took our eye off the prize a bit. We sat back that first game we were there and they brought it to us. We just gotta keep our foot on the gas pedal, keep moving forward, keep doing what we’re doing and get there. I think this year, being there last year, all the vets have thoughts in their heads about going back, things to differently so we help ensure that we can get it done.”

As far as the advice he offers to those following in his footsteps, Hatten refers them to his coach’s message for guidance.

“I tell them to listen to TK on the ice,” he said. “He just keeps repeating to stay mentally tough. It’s a mental sport. If you let a kid get in your head, like if you’re on the boards as a winger you can’t the puck out, and if you let that start affecting you, you’re not going to get the job done. Just staying mentally strong, just working hard every shift, making sure you get the fine details-making sure you get every little thing done right, that’s how you become successful.”

On a similar note, Robinson stressed that harnessing adrenaline and the mental aspect of the game is crucial to a fast start.

“Honestly, I think it’s feeling those nerves and use that to your advantage on your first shift,” said Robinson. “Just feel nervous, go out and move your legs, get a hit, get a shot on goal, just kamikaze it. Just know there’s a reason you’re here, you should be confident in that, and go play your game.”

“I think the biggest thing, looking around the division, not knowing what everyone else has coming back, but I’d say experience is going to be our biggest asset,” said Donovan. “Just having four guys who are veterans back, that makes a huge difference in bringing the young guys along. It helps everyone grow up really fast. Just heading into games, everyone is so much more experienced. I think we have a lot of skill as well, especially from our draft picks. We added some size and skill, some guys who can really skate with it. I think something that we’re really going to have to work on a bit is the physical aspect of the game. It’s something hopefully us older guys can show the younger guys. TK always stresses clearing the front of the net, being tough in our own end, getting pucks up-we have some really good forwards to go along with it.”

“I’m excited to see what we have in store,” said Hatten. “Practices have been great, high-tempo, a lot of body, and just a lot of grit down in the corners. We’ve put a lot of hard work in.”

“I’m gonna bring the same style, focus more on scoring  goals this year, and getting in a few opponents’ heads,” said Gabe Temple, the team’s newest captain. “I just want to help lead the team back to the Robertson Cup playoffs and hopefully win this year,”

KNIGHTS BLAINE ROSTER:

Forwards:
#9 Zak Currie, RHF
#10 Beck Moore, LHF
#11 Jake Fuss, LHF
#15 Lincoln Hatten, RHF
#16 Sacha Guillemain, RHF
#17 Anthony Starzi, RHF
#19 Jason Stachelbeck, RHF
#22 Gabe Temple, RHF
#23 Mathew Kahra, LHF
#24 Tyler Nielsen, RHF
#25 Brett Postula, LHF
#26 Jacob Badal, LHF
#28 Jeffrey Bertrand, RHF
#29 Will Otwell, RHF

Defensemen:
#2 Greg Japchen, LHD
#4 Davis Pennington, LHD
#8 Blake Krkyska, LHD
#12 Evan Orr, LHD
#14 Joey Verkerke, RHD
#20 Shay Donovan, RHD
#21 Jordan Strand, RHD
#27 Luke Robinson, RHD

Goalies:
#1 Samuel Vyletelka
#35 Zach Stejskal

  • Notes:
    “I think our speed,” said Donvan of what he felt is his team’s most impressive skillset. “To make this team-I think everyone skates really well. I think as a d-corps we skate really well, and that’ll help transition the play up to the forwards. If we can play fast in transition, we should be the fastest team in our division. I think that’d really help us and that’s something that TK and Whitey really look for.”

 

  • “Our ability to transition,” Robinson agreed. “Being able to join the rush, to make it instead of a 3-on-2, a 4-on-2 and just have the confidence that we can even get back if we have a turnover and cover for d. We have guys who are very good skaters on the blue line. If we can beat that first forechecker as a defenseman and move it to an open guy, head-man the puck, we can hopefully join the rush.”

 

  • The Knights most experienced tender from last year is also one of their youngest, as Alaskan standout Jeff Bertrand returns in 2018-19. The future Nittany Lion cut his teeth in the NAHL in the best possible way, playing in a handful of regular season games before joining the roster for the entirety of the 2018 playoffs. The big right-handed shot scored his first goal with the Knights against the then-named Philadelphia Rebels en route to the Knights sweep of one of their arch rivals last postseason. This year, Bertrand scored the Knights first goal of the season on their first shot in their home opener Friday.

 

  • Jacob Badal is one of the few players younger than Bertrand on the Knights roster this season. He scored his first goal of junior hockey on Saturday night against Johnstown on a sharp-angle snipe.

 

  • Three graduates of the Knights EHL roster combined for a goal on Friday. Anthony Starzi and Jake Fuss fed Tyler Nielsen for his first goal of the season.

 

  • Zach Stejskal, the Knights most recent first-round pick, comes to the team following a year in the USHL with the Central Illinois Flying Aces. From the moment he steps on the ice, Stejskal can’t be missed. The hulking netminder stands at 6-5 but moved with the quickness of a smaller goalie at Knights main camp. The team is excited about the Minnesota-native’s arrival.

 

  • “He just has a great mentality in net. It’s the type of mentality you need in net to say ‘Screw this I’m not getting scored on’ type of mentality. He’s super calm-no freak outs-he’s always supportive of his guys, and he’s got some really good experience to go along with that.”

Knights Can’t Fend off Tomahawks in Game 2

Trying to avoid a sweep on opening weekend, the Knights met the Tomahawks for the second straight afternoon inside the Revolution Ice Centre.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jumped out to an early start, applying a few quick chances on Johnstown netminder Cooper Lukenda in the game’s first six minutes. In his first NAHL start, the Canadian goalie was up to the task, stopping each of the Knights early offerings.  Like the Knights the day before, the Tomahawks went on to strike on their very first shot of the game.

Just shy of the six minute mark, Alex Wilkins zipped a pass to Christian Gorscak who found a wide open Oliver Benwell in front, where the latter ripped a puck past Knights starter Samuel Vyletelka, who was just inches from making the save.

The 1-0 lead kicked off an avalanche of Johnstown pressure. The Tomahawks added quickly to their shot total, peppering Vyletelka and drawing penalties.

On the third Knights infraction, Johnstown made them pay. With the man advantage, Carson Brière fed a puck to Cameron Hebert, who fired one across to Samuel Solensky. Solensky, a thorn in the Knights side throughout his NAHL career, ripped a shot past his fellow Slovak in Vyletelka for the 2-0 Johnstown lead.

In the second, the Knights would begin the period in earnest, again picking up pressure in the offensive zone. They were finally rewarded at 4:44. Set up by Joey Verkerke and Zak Currie, Jacob Badal ripped a sharp-angle laser from the bottom of the right circle that bested Lukenda to cut the Johnstown lead in half.

The Tomahawks would take less two minutes to answer. Following another Knights penalty, the Johnstown power play struck again when Carson Brière found some space on the left circle. The ’99 forward juggled the puck around a block attempt and ripped it home for the 3-1 lead. Samuel Solensky and Cameron Hebert  picked up helpers on the score.

Under three minutes later, Brière and Solensky would strike again, when the former found the latter on a 2-on-1 for Johnstown’s fourth goal. Dominick Posta was credited with the secondary assist that sprung the odd-man rush, giving the Tomahawks a 4-1 lead heading into the third.

In the game’s final stanza, penalties dominated the pace of play. During a four-on-four play just three and a half minutes into the period, Christian Gorscak found a turnover after a Knights player lost an edge in his own zone. Walking in with pressure right on his heels, Gorscak fired the puck over Vyletelka’s shoulder to create a 5-1 advantage.

The score would hold up through a slew of penalties committed by both sides through the remainder of play. At the final horn, Johnstown would head home with four points in their first two games. In the win, his first in the NAHL, Cooper Lukenda stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal for the Tomahawks. Samuel Vyletelka made 42 saves in the loss.

The Knights will look to bounce back when they head to Blaine, Minnesota later this week for the NAHL Showcase. Their first game will take place Wednesday, September 19th at 1:00 pm CDT against the Topeka Pilots. Catch that game on www.hockeytv.com, and stay tuned to Knights social media for all Knights news on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

Knights to Scrimmage Youngstown Phantoms Tomorrow, Saturday, September 8th

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will travel to Ohio tomorrow to take on the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL in a scrimmage at 4:00 PM EDT. The game will take place at the Deep Freeze Arena in Boardman, Ohio.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to play against some of the top talent in junior hockey,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “It’s a chance for our players and staff to evaluate how we fare against a tier-I team and it gives us time to build chemistry on our first real road trip with this group.”

The Knights have had many alumni advance to the USHL. Among the most recent was top defenseman from last season, Thomas Farrell, who’s a current member of the Phantoms. Former Knights defenseman Marcus Joseph, a current player for NCAA DI Sacred Heart University, played for the Phantoms in 2016-17.

The Knights will wrap up the preseason in Ohio before heading back to open the regular season at home next Friday. Stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com and Knights social media for all news and updates!

NAHL Trade: Knights Acquire Sacha Guillemain from Kenai River Brown Bears

In a homecoming of sorts, the Knights added to their forward group Tuesday night, completing a trade that brought them the talents of Sacha Guillemain. A native of Mont-Saint-Aignan, France, Guillemain has a number of ties to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton organization.

For starters, he’s already played for the Knights once before. In 2015-16, Guillemain wracked up a combined 30 goals and 28 assists in 55 regular season games between the Knights 16U and 18U teams (NAPHL and AYHL). In the NAPHL 16U postseason, he posted a lucrative nine goals and three assists in just four games played.

“I’m pretty excited-excited to come back to a place that knows me, and a place that I can add to,” he said. “I want to make a big playoff run. Last year I didn’t get the chance with Kenai. Last year the Knights did pretty good, so I hope that I can help them have an even better season that they did last year.”

After his first stint with the Knights had concluded, Guillemain’s efforts gained the attention of another prominent youth program: Meijer AAA Hockey. Alongside the familiar faces of future Knights players Tyrone Bronte and Brett Postula,  Guillemain potted 14 goals and 19 assists in 26 games in 2016-17.

“It’s just fun to know that you’re coming back to see familiar faces that you’ve played with before,” he said. “I’d say that I’m a pretty offensive forward. I like to use my hands and speed. I’m sure I’m going to be a good fit with everybody.”

Following the signing of a tender agreement with the Kenai River Brown Bears, Guillemain ascended to the NAHL ranks last season with a solid rookie campaign.  In 56 games, he notched 7 goals and 22 assists, including one helper in his first game back at the Revolution Ice Centre.

“I really worked on my conditioning this summer,” he said of how he’s spent the time since. “Last year I felt like I wasn’t at 100% all the time, so I worked out a lot this summer. I think I’m in great shape to start the year this year.”

“Sacha is a player we have some familiarity with,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “We’ve seen him as a member of our organization and as a member of others, and he’s consistently been an impact player wherever he’s been. You can’t have enough playmakers on your hockey team. We feel that by bringing Sacha back into our program we’ve added a player who’s not only talented, but has improved since we last saw him.”

Guillemain will join the Knights as they prepare for their preseason contest against the New Jersey Titans, with puck drop set for this Friday, September 7th at 6:30 pm EDT. The game will be free to all those who attend. Follow Knights social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as the Knights embark on their journey to #SeizetheThrone in 2018-19!

Knights Goalie Thomas Walker Commits to Albertus Magnus College

Thomas Walker is getting ready to start his second season with the Knights organization, but before the season’s first puck drop, the goalie announced some exciting news. Starting in the fall of 2019, Walker will join the Albertus Magnus Falcons in their inaugural season playing NCAA DIII hockey.

“I like the atmosphere-it’s right around Yale and Quinnipiac, so it’s a good college town,” said Walker of his future home. “The people are great, the head coach, the assistant coach, they’re just nice people, great people. To visit a school and find out it’s a small school-that’s what I was interested in because that’s the kind of high school I went to. Everything about the college just kinda sucked me in and I fell in love with it.”

Located in southern Connecticut, Albertus Magnus recently gained approval to join NCAA Division III hockey as an independent school in 2019-20. Kyle Wallack will man the bench after serving as an assistant coach for the University of Vermont.  Wallack has coached the past 21 years primarily as an at NCAA Division I level, along with stops along the way in DIII, the ACHA and USHL.

“With it being a new program it just excited me to be part of a start, setting the groundwork for them to be successful for many years to come,” said Walker. “Hopefully we’ll be in the record books getting the first winning season and being a part of all that interesting stuff.”

Walker spent his first year of junior hockey as the backstop in 28 games for the Knights. He recorded a 2.86 goals against average and a .899 save percentage in the 2017-18 regular season.

“I think it helped me playing against older competition,” said Walker of his first season in the EHL. “It made me have to adjust, get stronger and faster because everybody shoots harder and moves quicker and passes are crisper and everything just moves at a higher speed. I’ve just had to adjust to that, and hopefully with another year under my belt, I’ll be even more prepared and be able to just keep improving.”

What can Falcons fans expect from their future goalie?

“I’m a battler,” he said. “That’s my big thing. I’m never gonna give up. I’ve kinda learned more and more as we keep going that you just have to battle and keep going. I’m not the quickest, not the biggest, but I’ll definitely battle from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, all season long. I’m not going to complain about anything. I’m ready to play whenever, wherever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m just going to battle.”

“The best way start to training camp when you have players reporting already committing to school,” said Knights EHL head coach Josh Fusco. “It goes to show the success were having here with our players and more importantly it shows they trust the process.”

For all his growth in his first season with the Knights, it says a lot about Walker that his favorite memories are not individual highlights, but ones belonging to last year’s fellow goalie, Jared Stahel, along with another team accomplishment from 2017-18.

“My favorite would probably be the December showcase last year,” he said. “We were just starting to hit our stride. We were able to play well enough to beat the Avs, then Stahel got the first team shutout against the Wolves going into Christmas break so we were on a nice little hot streak beating the eventual champions and then getting the first shutout for the team so that was a good start. Kinda went on a streak there and got a little hot, so that was probably my favorite memory so far.”

For all that lies ahead, Walker isn’t looking too far beyond the upcoming season with the Knights in the EHL. His sights are set firmly on  improving on his consistency before heading off to school.

“I want to be better for the length of the whole year. Last year, I thought I had a pretty slow start, and then a decent middle, and then slowed down again at the end. I’m looking to have a complete season and go farther in the playoffs than we did.”

“I’m really excited for Walks,” said Fusco. “It’s pretty awesome because it shows the dedication he has put in to his game, the dedication he has to our program and more importantly how he has trusted the process over the past year with his development.”

Ever the team player, Walker was quick to thank those who have made his commitment a reality.

“Definitely a big thanks to my family for all their support and my friends back home for helping me grinding through this junior year, being supportive. Obviously thanks to the Knights organization and everything they’ve done, coach Fusco for helping me improve, and my teammates for playing well enough in front of me to get a college interested in me, so just a big thanks to everyone that’s helped.”

The Knights  congratulate Thomas on his well-deserved college commitment and look forward to his upcoming season and rooting for him in his future hockey career and beyond!

 

Adrian Danchenko Commits to Alabama-Huntsville

Photo: Steve Yakimowicz

With the 2018-19 junior hockey season around the corner, Adrian Danchenko has announced his commitment to the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers for the 2019-20 season. The Chargers are an NCAA division one program playing out of the WCHA.

“Huntsville has a renowned engineering school that is really important to me,” said Danchenko of his home-to-be. “The hockey side is only getting better, and with the coaching staff there, I believe we’ll take a big step with the program.”

The Chargers have been a member of division one hockey since the 1998-99 season. Their first stint in DI came in 1988-92. In the years since, they’ve won their regular season conference title twice, their postseason conference championship twice, and qualified for the NCAA tournament twice at the division one level.

The school was a division II power house between the years of 1993-1997, appearing in four national championships in five seasons, winning two. The most famous among their many successful alumni is current Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot.

For his part, Danchenko has spent years and developing in the Knights hockey program, dating back to the NAPHL stage of his career. After making his NAHL debut with the organization in 2016, Danchenko has gone on to record 18 goals and 30 assists in 118 games played.

“It’s been extremely rewarding to watch Adrian Danchenko grow up in this program,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “From the early days in the NAPHL to coaching him the past two years in the NAHL, he’s consistently been one of the most improved players in our organization. He’s a great example of where hard work and talent can take you, and I know he’s only going to continue to get better.”

Danchenko was a key forward for the Knights last season, more than doubling his NAHL rookie season’s point total, recording 12 goals and 20 assists in 55 regular season games. His efforts earned him a place at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February.

“The NAPHL and the NAHL were the leagues that developed me into the hockey player I am now,” said Danchenko. “That’s thanks to all the great teams and events the league has to offer.”

The impressive season culminated in Danchenko’s selection by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the 2018 USHL Entry Draft.

“The Chargers are getting a big player that can use his speed and vision to make plays happen,” said Danchenko of what he’ll bring to the college game. “I can play both sides of the puck and use my skill up the ice.”

“I know I speak for our entire staff when I say that Alabama-Huntsville is getting a really good player in Adrian,” said Kowal. “He’s worked hard to get to this point, and he’s earned a spot at the top level of college hockey. We thank him for what’s he’s contributed on and off the ice for our program. I wish him the best of luck going forward in hockey and in life.”

“My biggest takeaway in my time with the Knights was that persistence is key, and going through the program you have to step it up to the next level,” said Danchenko. “Playing older players every year made me more mature and has helped me to become a role model and a leader. I feel that I’ve grown not only as a player but as a person too.”

Danchenko is the 18th player from last year’s roster to commit to a college, and the 13th heading to a division one school from that team. The Knights organization thanks Adrian for his many years with their program. They will be eagerly following and rooting for him every step of the way moving forward!