November begins with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (5-9-1, 11pts.) hosting the Johnstown Tomahawks (12-4, 24pts.) Thursday afternoon at Revolution Ice Centre for the first of two meetings between the clubs this week.
Different Month, Different Result?
The month celebrating Halloween proved to have some treats, but plenty of tricks for the Knights, who have dropped their last five games after winning four of the previous five.
During this stretch, Wilkes-Barre has scored eight goals, but only once in each of their last four games. The club has allowed 17 from the opposition in their last five, and has been outshot in three straight. Two of the losses in this skid have come against Johnstown.
With a new month comes a chance to turn the page for Head Coach Tom Kowal and the Knights. A season ago, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a 7-3 record in November. They’ll play nine games in November this time around.
In A Class Of Their Own
Johnstown missed the Robertson Cup Playoffs a season ago, but look poised for a return to playoff hockey in the 2018-19 season. The team sports a 12-4 record, sitting four points ahead of New Jersey in second, and are in a playoff spot by a whopping 13 points, as both the Knights and Northeast Generals sit on the outside looking in with 11.
Across the North American Hockey League, only the Minnesota Magicians in the Midwest Division have as many points as the Tomahawks do. Johnstown has won five straight and stand 8-2 over their last 10 games. They have scored more than any team in the NAHL with 61 tallies. Their power play is third best, operating at 25.3%, and Johnstown has seven players already with 10 or more points this year.
Badal Turning A Corner
In a tough stretch of games that have disrupted the Knights’ groove over the last couple of weeks, Coach Kowal is looking for someone to step up and help the sputtering offense.
Perhaps now more than ever is the time for winger Jacob Badal to display his skillset.
It’s hard to ask your rookie forward to take the proverbial “bull by the horns”, but Badal is committed to NCAA DI Western Michigan for a reason. The forward put up 56 points in 40 games with Honeybaked Midget a season ago, earning him a chance to skate in a game last year for the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints.
A 17 year old out of Flint, MI, Badal is the youngest player on the Knights, though he registered a point in each of the games against Jamestown a week ago, including a goal on Saturday; his first in eight games. Overall, #26 has seven points in 15 NAHL games this season.
For What It’s Worth
Thursday and Friday mark the final meetings of 2018 between Johnstown and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The squads don’t meet again until January 18th, 2019 in Johnstown.
The Knights have gone 0-4 against the Tomahawks on the season. Wilkes-Barre has never lost five straight against Johnstown in any previous year.
Wilkes-Barre vs Johnstown is the only NAHL game on Thursday. It’s a 2:30pm start, marking the first of four matinee games for the grey and blue in November.
Zach Stejskal carries a .940 save percentage into November. He ranks second in the league for save percentage and first in the East Division. His 10 games played are more than every other East Division goalie, except former Knights’ net minder David Tomeo, who has played 13 for the Maryland Black Bears.