Hard fought finale puts Knights on top
On Sunday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Northeast Generals met for the rubber match of a weekend, three-game series and for the seventh time this season. Fittingly, the contest proved to be their most competitive tilt yet.
Things got started in a hurry when Matt Kidney (10) scored his first goal since his return at 5:50 into the first period with assists coming from Reed Robinson (12) and Dorian Dawson (17). Dawson’s assist marked his sixth straight game with a point and Kidney’s goal tied him Paul Maust for the team lead.
Just under two and half minutes later, former Knight Kohei Sato (7) tied the game after he beat Colt Hanks on a solid set up by Michael Egan (7) and Luke Perunovich (11).
Kidney would grab sole lead of the Knights goal lead with his 11th score of the year at 14:12 when he bested Northeast netminder David Fessenden with help in the form of Khrisitan Acosta’s 19th assist of the season.
The 2-1 lead was indicative of a relatively one-sided period, one in which the Generals could only muster four shots on goal and took two penalties. Still, the Knights finished the frame 0-2 on the man advantage meaning they’d have to settle with taking just a one-goal lead to the dressing room.
The Generals would renew their attack on the other side of the intermission, finding the equalizer just over five minutes into play on a powerplay tally from Egan (6) from the assists of Christian Thomas (7) and Kohei Sato (10).
The Knights would again outshoot the Generals in the second but failed to find the twine. The power play’s first period slump extended into the second, as its first two trips to the ice proved unfruitful and worse, were both ended by Knights penalties prior to their natural expiration. The third Northeast penalty would carry over to the third period, leaving the door open for the Knights to regain control of the momentum they were lacking.
With the man advantage set to play out for the first 1:26 of the final frame, the Knights used their advantage to apply significant pressure to the offensive zone, so much so that just five seconds before the end of the penalty, Northeast took another. 1:39 into their sixth powerplay chance, the Knights finally cashed in. Paul Maust (11) pushed one past Fessenden with assists being credited to Matt Kidney (15) and Sabatini (11) to give the Knights the lead. The score tied Maust and Kidney back atop the Knights goal sheet once again.
Despite the setback, the Generals pushed back with vigor. Despite being outshout once again, Northeast spent long shifts in the offensive zone, but failed to solve Colt Hanks. With the help of solid goaltending and an empty Generals cage, Sam Antonitsch put the game away at 19:03 with the empty net goal.
With the win, the Knights improved to 17-18-1-1, just one game under .500. The Knights will have the chance to meet that mark for the first time in NAHL franchise history this Saturday, January 14th when they take on the defending Robertson Cup Champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs at 7:30 PM.