Gabe Temple scored the game winning goal 6:54 into the second, followed by three more Knights’ tallies to take a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Titans Saturday night at Revolution Ice Centre.
Goaltender Zach Stejskal made 44 saves to earn his second shutout of the season; both against the Titans.
Knights’ Head Coach Tom Kowal said following the game that this was the most “complete effort” he had seen from his club in a while. Wilkes-Barre controlled play in the offensive zone for the bulk of period one, before scoring twice in both the second and third.
Temple started the scoring when winger Jeffrey Bertrand knocked a puck towards the front of Titans’ net minder Matt Ladd. With Temple crashing to the front, the center elevated the puck to the top of the net for his team leading 10th goal of the season.
Before the period ended, Jacob Badal darted down the right wing side to score his seventh of the year, making it back-to-back goals for the 17 year old. Badal initially took a wrist shot that Ladd appeared to believe was covered up. The puck actually laid right in front of the goalies’ leg pads, so Badal played to the whistle, crashed the net and rammed home the second goal of the game with 1:17 to go in the middle period.
Even with a lead, there was a sense that at least one more goal had to come in order to feel some breathing room. That tally arrived when New Jersey’s Ben Pirko was spotted for holding mid-way through the third. On the power play, Sacha Guillemain made a beautiful cross-ice pass in the zone to blue liner Blake Kryska, shelfing the first man advantage goal for the Knights in four games.
Zak Currie would add the final goal, joining Badal with back-to-back goal games on the weekend. Currie was sent toward the net by Badal, crediting #26 with an assist on what is Currie’s second goal on the year.
Though he didn’t score, Tyrone Bronte contributed with two assists in the win.
Stejskal stood tall in net once more for the Knights, helping the team with 22 saves on the Titans in the second period alone. The Minnesota-Duluth committed goalie helped the penalty kill too, however the team also played a discipline style of hockey, giving New Jersey just two power plays. The closest a Titans’ player came to scoring was in the second when Kyler Head rang one off the right post in what was a 1-0 Knights’ lead at the time.
Saturday’s win pushed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to 7-15-1 through the first 23 games of the 60 game North American Hockey League season. The win will have to serve as motivation for the road, as the grey and blue spend the next five games away from Pittston, PA.
Next week is arguably the biggest weekend for the Knights to date. They’ll face their old friend David Tomeo and the Maryland Black Bears for two games. The NAHL’s newest franchise sits four points ahead of Wilkes-Barre for the final playoff spot in the East Division. Afterwards, the Knights head to Northeast for a trio of games against the Generals the following week. Play doesn’t return home to Revolution Ice Centre again until December 14th.