Jake Fuss scored a hat trick to go with a five point night, helping the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights keep their playoff hopes alive with a decisive 8-1 win over the Maryland Black Bears Friday night.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 7-0 against the Black Bears this season. The two clubs wrap up the regular season Saturday afternoon. The Knights will need at least one point to mathematically stave off playoff elimination while they wait for the Northeast Generals to finish their weekend.
After a lopsided loss to Johnstown a week earlier, the grey and blue were ready to come out guns blazing. Defenseman Joey Verkerke banged home the game’s first goal 1:27 in. Three minutes later, Jake Fuss scored the first of his three to make it 2-0. Luke Posner would make it a 2-1 game after tucking home a rebound through Zach Stejskal midway through the first period.
That goal proved to be the only one for Maryland. The Knights opened the floodgates in the second period, putting together a three goal frame. Gabe Temple re-established a two goal lead, followed by Markus Cook scoring his first NAHL goal in his debut with the Knights. Already down by three, the Black Bears were hoping to get to intermission at that, but Adrian Danchenko fired a buzzer beater home at the last second of the period to undoubtedly put the game out of reach.
Maryland turned to David Tomeo in net to start the third after Anthony Del Tufo surrendered the first five goals on 24 shots. Tomeo helped get the Knights into the Robertson Cup Playoffs a season ago and was plucked from the team in the expansion draft for the Black Bears. On this night, however, the Knights would get the best of their former net minder. Three goals were scored within 3:57 of one another to start the third period. Gabe Temple’s second of the game was sandwiched between two more goals from Jake Fuss, who earned his first career hat trick. Fuss sprinkled in two assists as well for his first five point game, and has 26 points in his last 28 games.
Temple and Fuss each have 18 goals, standing as most on the team. The goal scoring outburst was only the third time in Knights’ franchise history that the team had compiled eight goals in a game, which is a franchise-best as well. It’s also the second time the Knights have won a game by an 8-1 score. They dispatched of the New Jersey Titans on March 30th of last year by the same score.
– Adrian Danchenko had a three point game and is now up to 79 career points with the Knights. He surpassed Curtis Karlson (77) for second in all-time scoring for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
– Evan Orr was assessed a five-minute penalty and a 10 minute misconduct in the third for attacking Bradley Jenion after a dangerous hit on Cook. The Knights killed all five minutes.
– 10 different Knights registered at least a point. Beck Moore had a three assist game (career high), and Shay Donovan registered two assists and was a +4.
– Zach Stejskal finished with 31 saves for his 24th win of the year. The Knights are 25-29-5 heading into the regular season finale.