A pair of third period goals helped the Knights skate away from New Jersey with a 2-1 win over the Titans Wednesday afternoon.
Entering the third down 1-0, it was Gabe Temple striking early for the tie, followed by defenseman Jordan Strand scoring his first game-winning-goal as a junior hockey player to help Wilkes-Barre prevail, earning their first win against the Titans away from Revolution Ice Centre this season.
It was a relatively quiet game on the score sheet when comparing to the previous games played between these teams at Middletown Ice World Arena this season. In the four prior meetings, a combined 33 goals were scored. This game featured just three, but the lack of noise on the scoresheet was replaced with that in the stands, as numerous schools were brought in on field trips to see this 11am slated puck drop.
The first period saw the Knights outshoot New Jersey, 15-10, but the Titans had two key takeaways that nearly led to goals, had it not been for the phenomenal play of goalie Zach Stejskal. The Knights stopper made a point black save on Gavin Gulash, followed by an odd-man rush stop minutes later.
It wasn’t until the second period that a team found the back of the net, with New Jersey’s Kyler Head scoring on a one-timer from the right circle. The goal was a power play tally, with Max Klanow being seated for holding.
Down after two, the Knights responded quickly entering the third period. Gabe Temple slid home goal 13 of the season 1:19 in. With pressure in the zone, Jeffrey Bertrand shot a puck on net that trickled through Titans goalie Brandon Perrone, but hit the post. The puck didn’t bounce away from the iron, leaving it in the paint for Temple to tuck home and tie things up. Jacob Badal got an assist, along with Bertrand.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would take their one and only needed lead of the day over five minutes later on the power play. With Matteo Menotti in the box, Strand fired a point shot through traffic to beat Perrone high on the glove side for his second goal of the season. In 56 junior hockey games at both the NAHL and NAPHL level, the blue liner has never scored a game winning goal until this contest.
Temple was credited an assist on the goal, giving the top prospect the only multi-point game of any player.
Goaltender Zach Stejskal finished with 29 saves, with his counterpart, Perrone, making 39 stops.
The Knights earned their 15th win of the season and now sit four points back of a playoff spot. The win also meant New Jersey suffered their 20th loss of the season.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is off for the upcoming weekend and won’t see action again until February 15th, when they begin a pair of road games against the Maryland Black Bears.