It took a late goal from Jacob Badal to force overtime, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights managed to come from behind and take a 5-4 shootout win over the Northeast Generals Friday night at New England Sports Village.
Lincoln Hatten scored the only shootout tally after a scoreless overtime being Wilkes-Barre’s third and final shooter. The forward roofed a top shelf backhander past Northeast goalie David Fessenden. The Generals elected to shoot last, sending captain Matthew Rutigliano down the ice for their final chance. Knights keeper Zach Stejskal sprawled out, stopping Rutigliano on the line with a right pad save to end the game.
The Knights have won four straight, improving to 10-15-1, putting them in sole possession of fourth place in the NAHL East Division. The Generals drop to 7-13-4.
Just because the Knights won doesn’t mean it was easy. Wilkes-Barre found themselves down headed into the third after a barrage of goals from the Generals. The home team scored three goals in under four minutes during the second period. Rutigliano was one of those, along with his goal in the first period which gave him the only multi-goal night for either team.
Wilkes-Barre did find a multi-point player however, with defenseman Blake Kryska stepping up with a solid performance that earned him the game’s first star.
After Rutigliano scored the game’s opening goal in the first, Kryska evened things up three minutes later. The lefty shot rocketed one from the top of the zone during a Knights power play. Later that period, Adrian Danchenko continued his mastery of the Generals this season, scoring in the slot with just 30 seconds to play. Danchenko now has eight points in four games against Northeast this season.
Northeast’s Ryan Rowland would tie the game at two in the second period, but Gabe Temple would answer for the Knights 29 seconds later, scoring his team leading 11th goal of the season.
The celebration went short lived when the Generals knotted things up once more over a minute after, then took the lead on their third goal in the middle period headed to intermission.
An odd play in the third found the Knights believing they tied the game prior to them actually doing so. After throwing the puck in the zone, Wilkes-Barre actually pushed the puck past Fessenden, which was ruled a goal by the officials to make it a 4-4 game.
The score would be reversed back to 4-3 in favor of the Generals though, due to the puck hitting the safety netting and then falling back to the ice just before it was shot in the goal. The officials came together after initially calling it a goal to discuss the matter, leading to the reverse decision.
With the Generals still leading, Knights leading scorer and reigning NAHL East Division Star of the Week, Jacob Badal was fed in front from Tyrone Bronte to make it a tie game with less than five minutes to play in regulation. Badal extends his goal streak to five games, and has 14 points in his last 13 games.
In overtime, both clubs had chances but Stejskal and Fessenden continued to make saves. Despite the goals against, Stejskal still managed over 40 saves. He was the game’s third star, as the net minder also stopped all three shooters from Northeast in the shootout to secure the team’s 10th win.
Two games between Northeast and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still remain on the weekend. Up next is a Saturday night encounter scheduled for 7pm.