December has been a tough month for the Knights, and heading into a home match up with the Aston Rebels Saturday night offered little respite for a team coming off back-to-back shutout losses. Their opponent entered the night with an NAHL-best 47 points, and had rattled off eight-straight wins over the Knights.
With a shuffling of the Knights lineup things got underway true to Knight-Rebels form. The first twenty minutes was spent largely exchanging zones, with Aston possessing the bulk of the opportunities. The Rebels 16 shots were all turned away by an active Colt Hanks who got the start in net for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Aided by Hanks’ solid work and the continued success of their penalty kill, the Knights thwarted two Rebel power plays to build momentum heading into the first intermission.
The second period began with similar play its predecessor, but the Knights steadily began to build and sustain time in the offensive zone. They were rewarded for their efforts when Joey Kubachka surged down the wall on a zone entry and from deep in his offensive zone, flipped a puck perfectly in front of the oncoming Khristian Acosta. In alone on goal, Acosta put the puck past Mareks Mitens for the game’s first goal at 5:59.
While the iron was still hot, the Knights would strike again with Reed Robinson firing a perfect outlet pass to Andrew Jackson. Jackson would streak in over the right side of Aston territory and rip a perfect snipe under the crossbar to beat Mitens and build a 2-0 lead.
The Rebels would finally get one past Hanks when on a faceoff win, Adam Peck drove straight to the net with the puck, and in the process of falling to the ice flipped the puck up and over the shoulder of Mitens. Hanks would stop the remainder of the 14 shots sent his way and the Knights would hold a 2-1 lead heading to back to the dressing room.
The Rebels would enter the third with renewed vigor, peppering Hanks with another wave of shots, and were given three more chances on the man advantage. All opportunities were turned away. With the extra attacker on the ice with just under two minutes to play, the Rebels were held high in the zone long enough for Reed Robinson to jump a point-to-point pass and bring it back for the clinching, empty-net goal.
The win for the Knights snaps a five-game losing streak and brings them to 2-3 against the Rebels at home. Colt Hanks made 45 of 46 saves earning his fifth win of the year in what was his easily his biggest performance of the season. The Knights will head into the holidays with a big win and a boost of confidence. They will return on December 30th to play host to the Kenai River Brown Bears.
The entire Knights organization would like to wish all their fans, families, players and staff a very happy holidays and we look forward to meeting again for the new year!