Tag Archives: Grant Valentine

Fuss Wins It In Overtime

Knights Within a Point of Playoffs With Nine Games Left

Jake Fuss scored an unassisted goal 3:06 into overtime to help the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights beat the New Jersey Titans, 2-1 Tuesday night. The win ends the 12 game season series with New Jersey at an even 6-6 mark.

Wilkes-Barre earned their 21st win of the season. With nine games left in the regular season, they trail the fourth place Northeast Generals by one point. Both clubs have nine to play, including three against one another later in the month.

Despite taking three penalties in the first period, including two at the same time to give a five-on-three to New Jersey, it would be the Knights who would capitalize off special teams in the opening frame. With Anthony Mastromonica sent to the box for slashing, the Knights went on the kill. Defenseman Evan Orr cashed in with a shorthanded goal for the rookie’s fifth tally this season.

After a blocked shot in the defensive zone, Jake Fuss sprinted ahead on a breakaway. With Orr trailing, the eventual overtime hero would drop it off for Orr to wrist one through Titans goalie Brandon Perrone to get the 1-0 lead.

New Jersey was later awarded the two man advantage in the first, but failed to capitalize. They were also outshot in the opening period, 11-10. Overall, the Titans did outshoot the Knights, 38-31, but Zach Stejskal remained a force in goal by making 37 stops for his 20th win of the year. Stejskal is now tied with Grant Valentine for most wins in NAHL Knights history. Valentine won 20 for the club in the 2016-17 campaign.

The Titans would find their resolve in the second period when they too would benefit from a defenseman scoring. Danny Dimon notched his first NAHL goal from atop the blue line with a slap shot that got through Stejskal at the 7:37 mark of the middle frame. The second period featured the most potential for New Jersey, as they fired 18 shots on the Wilkes-Barre goal. The Titans would receive a late period power play to carry over to the third period, but failed to generate.

With no additional scoring in the third, this contest headed to overtime. In the three-on-three, a simple faceoff would make the difference. With less than two minutes until a shootout would be needed, Jake Fuss stepped into the dot for an offensive zone draw. Originally slotted to go against Ryan Naumovski, the officials deemed a faceoff violation would be charged to New Jersey, forcing Jake LaRusso to take the draw. Fuss won it ahead of LaRusso and quickly parked in front of the net where he stuffed home the game winner on the right side of the cage. Fuss was credited for his 10th goal of the season and first overtime winner.

The Knights return home for practice, but then head north for the conclusion of their season-long eight game road trip Friday when they begin a pair of games with the Jamestown Rebels.

Valentine Commits to Miami of Ohio

From the first puck drop of their program’s tier-II existence, Grant Valentine has been there to witness the growth of the Knights organization. It’s fitting that the members of the organization could say the same about their most tenured netminder, one who’ll be playing division one hockey next season. Valentine, a native of Medina, Ohio announced his commitment to Miami University of Ohio, Monday.

“Grant was our very first NAHL tender,” said coach Tom Kowal. “To watch him from where he started to where he is now, making a commitment to a division one school-that’s an extremely rewarding feeling.”

In his second season in the NAHL, the Knights goalie has already more than doubled his number of tier-II starts in net. With the benefit of experience, Valentine’s numbers have soared in his 2017-18 campaign. In 39 games played, he’s recorded a 2.82 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

“There has been a lot of opportunity here,” said Valentine. “Going through losing a bit when I first got here and getting a lot of time in goal-it’s really helped me develop. The coaching has been great. They’ve really allowed me to mature on and off the ice. I feel I’ve grown a lot.”

Currently second in minutes played in the league, Valentine has been a trusted option that the Knights have heavily relied upon in their second year in the NAHL. Just last week he was named east division star of the week for a three-game span that included a shootout victor and a shutout while compiling a 1.64 GAA and a .943 save percentage.

“Grant has been a big part of our success this season,” said Kowal. “He’s having a really good year; we’ve given him a lot of minutes and he’s rewarded us with a lot of positive performances.”

With his 18 wins ranking just outside the top five amongst goalies in the NAHL, it’s easy to see why a place was available for him at Miami.

“Just the Brotherhood-the chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” said Valentine on what sold him on the Redhawks program. “It’s an excellent school, the hockey program is great and it’s a great college town-really it’s the total package.”

Miami of Ohio has produced its fair share of successful hockey alumni. More recent graduates include but are not limited to Andy Greene, captain of the New Jersey Devils, Alec Martinez, owner of the game-winning goal that propelled the LA Kings to a Stanley Cup victory over the New York Rangers in 2014, as well as names like Reilly Smith, Chris Wideman, Tommy Wingels and Jeff Zatkoff among others.

Before Valentine begins the process of adding his name to such a list, he’s focused on his current his team, and bettering their chances at chasing an NAHL championship.

“We have a really good group here,” he said. “I’m comfortable in my role. I know the guys in front of me are going to do their job, so it’s up to me to do mine. With my college commitment made I’m just focused on doing my part to make a run at a Robertson Cup.”

The Knights are in the process of rounding out their final five contests of the NAHL regular season. They’ve already qualified for the playoffs and will likely enter the postseason’s divisional rounds as the East Division’s fourth seed, meaning each series will see their opponent possess home ice advantage. Knights bench boss Tom Kowal isn’t worried.

“Having strong goaltending heading into the playoffs is a major key to success,” said Kowal. “Grant gives us a great option and a fighting chance heading into the postseason.”

For Valentine’s part, he’s ready to wrap up his Knights career on a high note, but hasn’t forgotten to appreciate those that have helped him along the way.

“I’ve enjoyed being part of the Knights-they’re a class organization that’s devoted to getting their players to play at higher levels of hockey,” he said. “I’m truly grateful to them as well as my family for helping me reach the next step of my career.”

Knights News: Valentine is East Star of the Week, Kubachka Returns, Hamacher Commits

Valentine Earns Division Star of the Week Award:

In what has become a happily recurring pattern in recent weeks, the Knights again find one of their own in the spotlight. For his play against Northeast on Thursday and Friday, Grant Valentine earned East Division Star of the Week.

In two games played, Valentine stopped 62/65 shots on goal, good for a save percentage of .954. He also boasted a GAA of 1.50 in 120 minutes. The duo of solid performances brought Valentine’s monthly totals to a 5-3 record with a save percentage of .917 and a goal’s against average of 2.97 in 8 games played.

Kubachka Returns:

A familiar face is back in the fold for the Knights offense. Joey Kubachka will wear #26 in his second stint with the Knights. The 6-3 210 lbs forward spent 14 games with the Knights last season before playing his next 32 with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. Kubachka, a 1998 birth year, began last season on the Central Scouting’s NHL Watch List and brings both added size and physicality to the Knights lineup.

Hamacher Makes College Commitment:

Another former Knight is heading to a division one school. Jake Hamacher, who spent 2013-14 with the Knights 16U team as well as 46 games with the NAHL team last year, has committed to RIT. Currently with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, Hamacher is known for his scoring touch. In his time last year with the Knights, he racked up 12 goals and and 28 assists. The Knights would like to congratulate Jake and wish him the best of luck in his hockey career!