Tag Archives: 2017

Engelkes Powers Knights to Comeback Win

Photo Credit: NAHL.com

Knights Second-Round Pick Leads the Charge on Day Three of Showcase

Round three of the Knights Blaine road trip had them meet the Minnesota Wilderness at the Schwan Super Rink 4. With both teams coming off a loss, urgency was to be expected in the game’s opening minutes.

Following puck drop, both sides began a see-saw battle of possession, seeing each forecheck trade offensive zones, a theme that would prove prevalent throughout the game. The Wilderness were first to strike off Blake Bride’s 2nd goal of the season, assisted by Andrew Troy and Eric Gotz at 3:58.

Tyrone Bronte responded 45 seconds later, tying the game for the Knights with a shot in close, created by crisp passing from Adrian Danchenko and Jack Olmstead. Olmstead’s assist extended his point streak to four games.

Eric Gotz wouldn’t let the tie live out the period. The Minnesota defenseman took advantage of a power play and ripped a point shot through traffic, besting Knights goalie Christian Stoever for the 2-1 Wilderness lead at 15:48.

The second frame saw an increase in Minnesota’s forechecking pressure. Their attack successfully set up in the Knights zone on numerous occasions, finally breaking through at 12:41 when Gino Lucia hammered a puck to twine on an assist from Gotz. Though the Knights were able to outshoot the Wilderness by one in the period, they were consistently flustered by Ryan Fanti’s solid goaltending.

Finally, at 16:27 the Knights answered to cut the lead to one. After Paul Cimilluca advanced the puck down low to Justin Engelkes, the rookie fought through multiple bodies under the end line to find Matt Kidney alone in the slot. The Knights veteran ripped home the team’s second goal, serving as a crucial boost to their momentum.

Down by one entering the third, the Knights elevated their execution on the attack. After struggling through their first two power play opportunities of the afternoon, Wilkes-Barrre/Scranton cashed in when Lincoln Hatten slammed a puck by Fanti for the tying goal at 8:53 (Olmstead, Kryska).

Minnesota wouldn’t take kindly to losing their lead. They forced two Knights penalties in the following three minutes, and were able to generate a handful of quality chances on net. Christian Stoever answered each and the penalty kill stood strong in their final two deployments of the day.

As the clock wound down, Justin Engelkes turned up ice. With under five minutes to play, the Verona, Wisconsin native’s acceleration carried him through neutral ice. Just as he gained the blue line, he let go a snipe that found its way past multiple defenders and Fanti for the go-ahead goal, Engelkes’ first in the NAHL.

The Knights defense would grind down the clock to the final minute when Minnesota pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The Wilderness again mounted quality chances, but none that beat Stoever, as the rookie goaltender made a fine kick save in the game’s final seconds to close out the win.

The Knights will complete their NAHL showcase with a 10:30 AM EDT meeting with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays tomorrow morning. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @wbsknights on twitter for live updates.


Knights Take First Loss Against Shreveport

Despite valiant effort in net, Knights can’t overcome Mudbugs

Day two of the NAHL Showcase saw the Knights square off with the Shreveport Mudbugs, one of two team’s younger than the Knights in the North American Hockey League.

Fresh off a 3-1 victory over the Minot Minotauros, the Mudbugs carried an up-tempo energy into the first period of their second day in Blaine.

Early pressure from Shreveport tested the resolve of Knights goalie David Tomeo, who fended off 13 shots in the first period. In his second start, the West Caldwell, New Jersey native stood on his head early and often.

The Knights were denied on an early power play opportunity in the first, but returned the favor late in the period. Neither team was able to generate a goal in the first 20 minutes, as Mudbugs goalie Gustavs Grigals matched Tomeo in a duel of sharp saves.

The second period saw the Knights establish more of an offensive zone presence as the team drew an early penalty, but they were unsuccessful on the ensuing advantage. The Knights appeared to score at 7:51 through a pile of bodies in front of Grigals, but the officials deemed that the net had come off its moorings. They also ruled that this had been done purposely by Shreveport, resulting in a penalty shot.

Jack Olmstead took the puck down the ice and beat Grigals for the game’s first goal and the 1-0 Knights lead. With the tally, Olmstead extends his scoring streak to three games.

Spurred on by the score, the Knights continued to pressure Shreveport in their own zone, but were continually turned away by Grigals. Off the back of their goaltending and steady defense, the Mudbugs forced a two-on-one break in which Jack Jaunich slid Jordan Fader a perfect pass to beat Tomeo to draw the score even at one at 14:57.

On a power play opportunity four minutes later, Cameron Cook and Brendan Gysbers’ found Cole Quisenberry, who willed a sharp-angle shot past Tomeo for the 2-1 Shreveport lead.

The third period saw both teams gridlocked in a back-and-forth transition game, but the Mudbugs were able to generate better chances off Knights mistakes. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton successfully killed an early checking from behind infraction and a mid-period five-on-three, but struggled to sustain possessions in the offensive zone. Their best chances came off the rush, but Grigals was able to answer every challenge sent his way.

Unable to find the tying-goal on a power play in the game’s final five minutes, the Knights pulled Tomeo for the extra attacker with less than two minutes to play. The team generated several solid chances and forced multiple Shreveport icings, but the Mudbugs held on to grind out their third victory of the season.

The Knights will return to the ice tomorrow against the Minnesota Wilderness at 2:15 pm EST. The game will be broadcast on hockeytv.com. Follow @WBSKnights on Twitter for live in-game updates!


Recap: Main Camp Day Two

Thursday’s second round of Main Camp paired growing stakes with rising intensity. To the credit of all participants, their passion was the same from the opening puck drop of game one to game eight’s final horn.

“The pace has picked up,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “The talent level has been higher. It’s going to be tough to make the team. It’s going to be a tough decision come tonight when we have to make cuts to figure out who make the All-Star games tomorrow. Our young guys have picked it up and adjusted to junior hockey teams as well. Our veterans have been holding their own. The handful of spots that are available are going to be tough to pick.”

The Knights will trim camp rosters down to four teams to play in two separate all-star games on Friday. Many players have made their case to take part. The candidates are a composed of a strong blend of newcomers and veterans.

Camp Notes:
-Matt Kidney combined with tenders Josh Fricks (forward) and Tom Farrell (defenseman) to lead Navy to a perfect 3-0 record through day one and two. The trio combined to score three goals and two assists in two games Thursday.

-Paul Maust, Reed Robinson, and camp invite Tyler Uravage paced team Purple in their 2-1 record over both days, only losing to Navy. They combined to score three goals and six assists Thursday, making them a leading contender for the best line combination of camp.

-Team Yellow was again lifted by Curtis Carlson’s blistering speed, highlighted by his multi-goal effort in squaring off against team Blue. Goaltender and Knights draft pick Christian Stoever was steady in net throughout the day.

-Team Red received another strong contribution from Dana Engram as he contributed a goal and a pair of assists to compliment day one’s multi-point performance. Knight’s defenseman and Brown commit Dorian Dawson laced a perfect pass to Brendan Manning for the tap-in goal against Green.

-Camp invite Kiryll Ulanov helped drive team Blue’s forecheck, adding a few helpers while veterans Mike Morrissey and Elijah Latimer delivered a rocket, top-shelf snipe and a coast-to-coast goal, respectively.

-Team Grey won both its games on day two off Jack Olmstead shootout goals. In the camp’s sudden death shootout format, Olmstead was given the leadoff role in both games. He was a perfect two-for-two using what he described as his “go-to move,” going top shelf off the backhand.

-Mike Gelatt set a physical tone for team White, recording a goal and two assists while rattling the boards up and down the ice. Kevin Hatten matched Gelatt’s stat line, adding to his goal from game one.

-Team Green joined team Navy in the ranks of the undefeated, capped by goalie Dave Tomeo’s fierce performance in the squad’s chippy, final game. Most notably, the netminder made a lounging save from his knees while tangled with skaters in the crease.

-The team continues to be impressed with the solid goaltending performances this week.

“I would really feel secure leaving here knowing that our goaltending situation is solid,” said head scout Justin Schreiber back on Wednesday, day one of camp. “It’s tough not returning a goalie from last year. We addressed that through tender season and the draft. Judging from the first day of camp, we have some really good goalies here.”

Kowal backed up that assessment on day two. “We’re really happy with the goaltending we’ve seen in camp so far,” he added.

-The Knights are pleased with the depth of their blue line this camp:
“We’re pleased with the defensemen we added to the roster this year,” said NAHL assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “I think the biggest thing we wanted to improve on was size in our defenseman. We have some bigger, stronger defensemen this year. Guys like Thomas Farrell and Blake Kryska stand out and have exceeded our expectations thus far. We hope that continues.”

Tomorrow’s meeting of top performers will help the team answer further questions they may still have before the regular season. Through the night, the Knights staff will create the teams that will compete Friday to fill out the Knights roster.

“We have two all-star games tomorrow,” said Kowal. “With the first one-you’re probably not going to see too many veterans in that game. We’re looking for guys we haven’t drafted, we haven’t tendered, we haven’t been able to see a lot over the past year. We want to give some of those guys one more opportunity to play with what we feel is the top half of our camp. The guys in those spots will be paired up with our veterans and our draft picks [and tenders] who are the guys we feel pretty strongly about making our team. We’ll pair them up and put them up against each other and let them have some fun tomorrow evening. Then we’ll figure out who we’re going to pick for our roster for September.”

Knights Drop Game Two in Battle with Aston

Penalties, staunch defense dictate outcome of game two

For the second consecutive night, the Knights and Rebels renewed acquaintances at the Aston IceWorks, vying for control of their opening round match up of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Much as they had the previous evening, the Knights started things quickly, pushing the puck deep into Aston territory in the game’s opening shifts. Though the first few minutes went without a high volume of shots making their way to either net, it was evident the speed and physicality from Friday had carried into Saturday’s action.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was first to generate solid looks on their target, as Michael Morrissey, Reed Robinson and Dorian Dawson all tested Mareks Mitens from open space in the Aston zone. The Latvian netminder didn’t blink and turned all three away.

Spurred on by the efforts of their goalie, the Rebels pushed back around the five minute mark of the first period, keeping the Knights out of the offensive zone for nearly four full minutes, while turning the shots tide against Grant Valentine.

The Knights netminder was also up to the early challenge as he did well to stone Aaron Maguyon from in close and fought through an Andrew Hart screen to stick away another puck. One strategy that quickly became evident was Aston’s goal of crashing straight to the net. The Knights early defensive efforts were strong in clogging up the middle of their own zone, diverting many cross-slot feeds out of danger’s way.

Dorian Dawson’s backchecking stood out on a play in which he raced back to poke a puck off the stick of Aston’s speedy forward Andrew Bellant as he tried to best Dawson one-on-one.

After being bogged down in their own end and neutral ice for a few shifts, the Knights awoke again just prior to the period’s halfway mark. Joe Schuler rung a puck off a post, Mike Gelatt dispensed checks liberally, and Mike Morrissey and Paul Maust buzzed around the net of Mitens to create two good, yet unsuccessful scoring chances.

It appeared at the 12:12 mark that the Knights were being given an early advantage when the Rebels were called for hooking. They were on the power play for 37 seconds before committing an infraction of their own as they tried to establish possession behind the net of Mitens.

In the 4-on-4 period that followed, the Rebels began to find more success in their efforts to crash the net. In one such instance, a Knight attempting to slow a Rebel forechecker barreling in off the rush collided with Grant Valentine. Play was stopped but Valentine would continue. Unfortunately the hit would be a precursor of more things to come for the Knights workhorse goalie.

Like his pairing mate Dawson, Markuss Komuls brought an impressive knack for disruption in his own zone Saturday night. Late in the Aston power play that followed the end of 4-on-4, Komuls raced back and took away a 2-on-1 rush for the Rebels when he dove to the ice to sweep away a connecting pass in front of Valentine. That effort allowed the Knights to return to even-strength unscathed on the scoreboard.

Mike Gelatt picked up where he left off throwing the body as he continued to open space on the ice with several more punishing hits. The Rebels responded with Gianluca Esteves very nearly scoring on a wraparound chance, only to be thwarted by Valentine’s quick, lateral movement.

The Knights had their own near-miss when Matt Kidney worked his way to the top of the Aston slot, made a quick deke and let a shot go that shaved the paint off the crossbar. The first 20 minutes came to a close without a score, largely due to stellar goaltending on both ends of the ice.

In the second, the Knights were in search of more established offensive possession. Most of their chances were still coming primarily off the rush. For their part, the Rebels seemed intent on getting bodies to the net of Grant Valentine. With both teams struggling to inflict their respective wills on each other, things turned chippy in a hurry.

The Rebels earned the better looks in the opening minutes of the second, as Carter Woolley and Jensen Zerban came up with quality chances, with Valentine stopping the first and Zerban missing just high on the second.

Jim Elser countered by streaking behind the Rebels last line of defense only to be denied by a spectacular, legal diving poke check by Ryan Solomon from behind the would-be breakaway.

Five minutes into the period, the Rebels took advantage of an awkward deflection in front of Valentine that allowed Andrew Hart to backhand the puck out of the air and into the twine.

The 1-0 lead flipped the swing of momentum to the Rebels attack. Shortly after Hart’s score, as another odd-man rush came crashing down towards Valentine, but Komuls added to the game’s growing list of defensive highlights with a diving block that disrupted the cross-ice pass to the otherwise open Gvido Jansons.

The path to the Knights net continued to attract Aston forecheckers, and with their presence came more bodies slamming into Grant Valentine. The first of the period came at 7:31, and in the ensuing post-whistle fracas, the Knights were assessed a cross-checking penalty.

Valentine would again rebound from contact quickly, turning away Jansons on a heavy slap shot and denying another from Esteves. The Knights penalty killers were quick to occupy shooting lanes that stopped would-be Aston shots through heavy screens.

Unluckily for the Knights, another kill would not provide needed relief as just two minutes after discarding their second penalty of the contest, they were back it again following an interference penalty. A combination of Morrissey killing clock with crafty possession in his own end, and Valentine making another flurry of saves would bring the Knights up to 3/3 on the shorthanded effort for the evening. They had little time to celebrate. At 14:09 they’d head right back to the box for high-sticking.

It would be deja vu all over again for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as individuals on the kill would make valiant plays to slow a potent Aston power play. Markuss Komuls and Mike Morrissey would again get low to block shots, Joe Schuler would tangle up and drag the puck to the boards to kill a large chunk of a time and Valentine stopped whatever got past those in front of him. The Knights appeared to finally gain reprieve as their fourth PK of the game was cut eight seconds short when Aston headed to the box for cross-checking.

That relief would be short-lived when just 49 seconds into the power play the Knights would again take a penalty, this time for boarding. On this occasion a battle-weary kill unit couldn’t quite fend off the Rebels.

Just 12 seconds prior to going a perfect five-for-five on the penalty kill, the Knights saw Gianluca Esteves get behind the defense and quite literally crash the net. As Esteves let go a puck that crossed the goal line, he bowled over Grant Valentine. After seeing their goalie hit the ice yet again, the Knights had had enough. In the pile up around the goal, gloves were dropped and punches were traded between both teams.

When the dust settled, the officials ruled that the power play goal was scored before contact was made with the Knights netminder, and the penalties that were assessed for the events afterward were coincidental.

Still, the Knights couldn’t escape the frame without taking one more trip to the sin bin. With just 33 seconds left before second intermission, hooking was called and the Knights were sent to a penalty kill  that would ultimately carry over to the third.

Following the frustration of 40 minutes of playoff hockey, and absent the reward of a goal, the Knights were looking to get the final frame started on a high note. They did succeed in killing the penalty from the end of the second, bringing their total up to 5/6 on the evening. That said, neither team sustained much of any offense following an taxing middle frame.

It took nearly seven minutes of play for anyone to record an official shot on goal and it came when the Knights got in close and a threw a puck off the body of Mitens. Somehow, the Rebels goalie was able to go all the way down to the ice and keep the bouncing puck out, while a rain of bodies poured down on top of him.

Just seconds later the process would repeat itself, with Mitens again ending up at the bottom of a dogpile and again successful in his efforts to keep the Knights off the board.

The Rebels found their offensive execution shortly thereafter but were thwarted once more by the efforts of Dorian Dawson. The Brown University commit blocked back-to-back shots from Dom Garcia and Andrew Bellant with both having been taken directly from the middle of the slot. After the Knights and Rebels were assessed another pair of coincidental penalties, Dawson was a wall once more blocking another chance just over halfway through the third.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came back and forced a penalties first at 11:04 and a gain at 13:51. As they had all weekend, the Rebels penalty killers responded with a back-to-back cancellations of a Knights power play unit that had entered the playoffs red hot, converting 30 percent of their chances since the beginning of March.

Following a few close opportunities around Mitens’ net, the Knights were determined to find some kind of advantage to get back in the game. With just over two minutes to play in regulation, they began a shift in the offensive zone with their net empty. At 17:56, Joe Schuler found a Dorian Dawson offering in front, turned and fired it past Mitens to give the Knights hope in the game’s closing moments.

Down just 2-1, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would again pull Valentine in the game’s final 60 seconds. This time the Aston defense would hold, and at the horn, the Rebels found themselves in possession of a two-game lead.

A pivotal game three will be played Friday, April 21st at the Revolution Ice Centre. Faceoff is set for 7:30 pm as the Knights will fight to get back into the series with the benefit of home ice. Come out and support the team, or tune into hockeytv.com and follow on twitter @wbsknights for wall-to-wall coverage of all the action!


WBS Knights Pre-Draft Camp Info for May 19-21

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights are excited to announce that we will be holding a tryout camp prior to the NAHL Draft. The camp will take place at our home rink, the Revolution Ice Centre, May 19th-21st. This camp affords all prospective junior hockey players with birth years 1997-2001 the opportunity to be evaluated by the Knights staff prior to the NAHL Draft on June 6th and possibly earn an invite to the Knights Main Camp in July. With a $275 registration fee, players are guaranteed to play three games with the top thirty players in camp earning a spot in the all-star game on the last day of camp.

The Knights are proud members of the only TIER II league in the US, the NAHL. The NAHL is a proven pathway for young men between the ages of 16-21 to develop into outstanding collegiate and professional players while playing in some of the nation’s state-of- the-art facilities. It is one of the only two leagues in the United States, which implements the non-pay-to-play model. For more information on the NAHL visit www.nahl.com.

In 2017-18 the Knights will also field a franchise at the tier-III level of junior hockey  in the EHL. The EHL is yet another impressive league that sees dozens of its players commit to play college hockey each year. For more information on the EHL visit http://www.easternhockeyleague.org/. This franchise will act as a feeder team to the Knights NAHL team. As such players who attend the Knights camps this offseason will be assessed for both the tier-II and tier-III teams. Those that do not make the tier-II NAHL team will have a chance at making the program’s EHL roster.

Our organization has worked diligently over the past decade providing young men the opportunity to fulfill their dreams in various hockey leagues; NHL, AHL, NCAA, and USHL. for more information on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, please visit www.wbsknights.com.

The Knights are very much looking forward to a great new season. We have made significant improvements in many areas from our last season and we will continue to build on the impressive strides we’ve made in the past.

Registration Night for March 2017 Youth Hockey Programs set for February 8th

Registration Night for March 2017 Youth Hockey Programs at Revolution Ice Centre is scheduled to take place
on Wednesday, February 8th at 5:45pm – 7:45pm. We will be accepting applications and payments for the following programs:
• In-House Hockey Development Program – March 2017
• Pre-Try Out Skills Hockey Training – March 2017***

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