Tag Archives: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Knights Muster Shutout Win

In what has become a defensive-minded weekend, the Knights proved their grit for the second time in the past 48 hours, this time against the Northeast Generals.

Entering Saturday night, the Knights held a 7-2 advantage in the season head-to-head, but with the caveat of a more than few close contests with the first-year Generals. Northeast’s most recent win came against the Knights back on February 11th at the Revolution Ice Centre in a 3-1 affair.

One pillar for the Generals this season has been their goaltending. Saturday’s starter David Fessenden entered play with five games against the Knights between time with the Generals and Minnesota Magicians. In those combined efforts against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he had a 2-1 record with a lucrative .975 save percentage and a goals against of just 0.92. Standing at 6’6″,  the towering Denver, Colorado native presented the Knights with a formidable obstacle to winning their second straight game.

Matt Kidney stepped to the plate for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Saturday’s early-going, notching his 15th goal of the season at 7:58 in the first period. The tally was set up on the Knights first power play of the game, off two crisp passes from Paul Maust and Curtis Carlson before Kidney just flipped the puck past a lunging Fessenden.

The goal came just at the right time, following a sluggish start for the Knights and a Generals power play in the game’s first five minutes that forced Grant Valentine to make a number of tough saves. The early work for the Knights workhorse netminder would prove to be a necessary jump start to the team’s defensive efforts.

The game’s first period was ruled by a parade to the penalty box, with each team incurring three minor infractions. The Knights, fresh off a perfect 4-for-4 shorthanded performance against Aston’s third-ranked power play, continued their momentum throughout Saturday to end the first period, going 3-for-3, to hold a 1-0 lead.

Galvanized by a few near misses in the opening frame, the Generals came out with purpose in the second, mounting a number of shots on goal, again testing Valentine repeatedly. Their shot totals would amount to a near 2-1 advantage for the period as they outshot the Knights 15-8.  Their efforts appeared to be rewarded at 6:21 when off a scramble in front, the puck found its way past Valentine. Instead, the goal was disallowed for Northeast making contact with the goalie.

Another penalty per side would again see the Knights emerge unscathed on the PK, but their power play bogged down after its fast start. At 17:03, their kill unit received its most important test of the evening when Paul Cimilluca was assessed a 5-minute major for boarding. Following a successful shorthanded 2:57, the Knights maintained their 1-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

In need of a lockdown start to the third, the Knights received it as the combined efforts of the kill unit and Valentine kept the Generals scoreless for the remainder of the major penalty. In a more even period than the second, the Knights and Generals traded chances at a fairly even pace. The Northeast effort took a blow at 11:03 when David Fessenden was contacted by a teammate in the crease and forced to leave the contest. Parker Swanson came in relief and was quickly tested with a Knights power play just two minutes into his taking of the ice.

On the ensuing man-advantage, the Knights held the puck in the offensive zone for the entirety of the minor, but continual passing around the perimeter resulted in just a few shots on goal. The Generals completed the kill and quickly flipped to the power play at 15:26. The Knights again turned them away, completing a perfect 6-for-6 penalty kill effort on the evening. With the goalie pulled in the game’s final minute, the Generals were unable to maintain the offensive zone long enough to find an equalizer, and the Knights skated away with 1-0 victory.

The 29-save effort on the part of Valentine and the team’s 6-for-6 penalty kill spurred the Knights on to their second straight victory.  They’ll look to make it three and a row this afternoon with 2:00 pm faceoff at home against Northeast.

Knights Win Shootout Thriller Over Aston

Knights back over .500 with dramatic win

Entering Friday, the Knights were in search of a strong start their March campaign-a month that will see them play three games this weekend before a two-week road trip for four games in Alaska. Being just the fourth game in the prior 26 days, the Knights entered their final regular season meeting with Aston on Friday night a well-rested roster. That didn’t mean things hadn’t been hard in recent games. Of the prior three, two were decided by shootout, and one by a three-goal rally by Johnstown in the third. All three ended in losses.

Their luck against Aston has not been much better. Heading into Friday night, the Rebels boasted a league-best 25 wins at home to go along with a just two regulation losses and one in OT. They were a perfect 5-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the Ice Works Skating Complex.

Things had a familiar feel when just six minutes into the first, Evgeny Yakovlev deflected a puck past Grant Valentine to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. The Knights however, did not falter. Through a low-shot, back and forth period, the Knights were presented with a power play opportunity when Yakovlev was sent to the box with just over three minutes left in the frame. With 15 seconds left on the man advantage, Mike Gelatt would respond with the equalizer on his 10th tally of the season from Robinson and Dawson.

The second period would follow a similar script. Shot totals again failed to crack double digits for both teams as defense dictated the game’s tempo. The Knights penalty kill was able to fend off two power play chances in the period’s first six minutes, providing frustration to the Rebels 3rd-ranked power play unit. After being granted an opportunity on the man-advantage at 14:46, the Knights were again able to capitalize. Following a cycle and shot from Matt Kidney and Elijah Latimer, Curtis Carlson scooped up the loose change in front and beat Jack Leavy inside the post at 16:26.

Entering the third, the Knights found themselves with a rare lead over the Rebels. After being frustrated by Grant Valentine and the Knights defense and penalty kill, Aston finally broke through at 6:06 into the third when captain Dom Garcia scored off helpers from Brennan Kapcheck and Dustin Manz. The final 14 minutes saw each team fail on a power play and both goalies standing tall enough to force overtime.

Having already played a total of 10 minutes of overtime in two of their last three games, the Knights were no strangers to the prospect of 3-on-3. Perhaps that is why Aston managed just one shot in the extra frame, as the Knights did well to limit grade-A chances on goal. That being said, the Knights managed just one shot of their own, punctuated by a dramatic breakaway by Adrian Danchenko in the final seconds of OT. Though he was ultimately denied by a last-second hooking by Kapcheck, the resulting nine-second power play, also unsuccessful, provided the Knights a shot of momentum transitioning into the shootout.

Sam Antonitsch began Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s third shootout effort in their last four games by ringing a shot off the post. Carter Wooley responded with a goal to put the Rebels up 1-0. Paul Maust answered with his second shootout tally in as many tries. Grant Valentine’s stop of Andrew Hart set the score even at 1 heading into a pivotal round three. Both Valentine and Leavy stopped their challengers in Reed Robinson and Jensen Zerban, respectively to force a round four. Adrian Danchenko, given his second chance in alone and this time unencumbered by a trailing defenseman, drew Leavy out of the net and maneuvered around the falling goalie to flip puck home and the Knights ahead 2-1. Valentine then stoned Brennan Kapcheck to close out the regular season series against Aston with a dramatic win.

Now back over .500 at 24-23-1-3, the Knights will return to the Revolution Ice Centre Saturday for a home-and-home series with the Northeast Generals.

Knights Fall in 8-Round Shootout in Johnstown

Knights drop final regular season meeting with Tomahawks in yet another nail-biter

Basking in the awe of the 40th anniversary of the hockey epic Slapshot, the rink it was filmed in and a ceremonial puck drop featuring the film’s legendary Hanson brothers, one could reasonably expect two star struck teams on the ice for Saturday’s matinee action. Instead fans were treated to a typical Knights-Tomahawks matchup; speed, lead changes and an abundance of physicality.

As they did the night before, the Knights struck first in game’s opening period when Reed Robinson notched his 10th tally of the year on assists from Michael Morrissey and Joey Verkerke. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went to the dressing room with the lead in both shots and goals, leading 1-0 and 13-9, respectively.

The second period saw the Tomahawks bounce back, mounting more sustained offensive pressure to the tune of a 14-6 shot advantage and an equalizer at 13:14 from Riley Doyon set up by Hayden Rowan and Evan Somoza. Both teams’ penalty kill units proved sturdy once again as both went a perfect 2-2 through the first 40 minutes of play.

Through a pitched third period of play, Donovan Ott was first to find the net for the 25th time on the year at 9:34. The 2-1 Johnstown lead held for just under five minutes before Paul Maust scored for the second straight game, tying the contest at two. Both netminders would stand tall with Vinnie Purpura stopping 12 of 13 and Valentine saving 9 of 10 to send the game to overtime.

The Tomahawks would take the initiative in the extra frame, mounting a slew of chances on the Knights net. Things only became more difficult for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when they were assessed a double-minor for high-sticking for the final 2:52 of OT. Through it all, Grant Valentine would prevail, stopping all seven shots he faced including a breakaway and a handful of chances from in close.

In the shootout, the Knights were given the first shot. Round one saw Michael Morrissey turned away by Purpura and Dalton Hunter stoned by Valentine. Round two would feature a beautiful deke and score from Paul Maust only to be answered by Nick Bruce beating Valentine up high under the crossbar. Both teams’ sticks would go silent for five rounds before Josh Norman buried the game-winner in the eighth round.

The final meeting between the Knights and Tomahawks for the 2016-17 regular season was a perfect representation of the competitive nature of the season series. Despite the Tomahawks taking the total tilt by a 9-3 margin, the head-to-head consistently played down to the wire. Of their 12 matchups, nine were decided by one goal. Four games went to overtime with two having to be settled in the shootout. The Knights won both games decided in overtime, while Johnstown took both games that went to the shootout.

Now at 23-23-1-3, the Knights will have a nice layoff to regroup before the next competition on the road in Aston on March 10th.

Knights Split Weekend With Generals

When the dust had settled Sunday afternoon, both the Generals and Knights headed off the ice with a better idea of where the depth lay in their respective rosters. Due to a cocktail of adverse circumstances, both teams found themselves shorthanded this weekend. On Saturday night each team dressed just 18 skaters. On Sunday, just 19.

Game one saw each team enter having lost at least their prior contest, with the Generals having dropped each of their past four. As such, they were quick to initiate the pressure Saturday night and the speed of their forecheck pushed the Knights to the backcheck early and often.

Despite this, the Knights tallied the game’s first goal at 7:57 into the second period following a highly active, yet scoreless opening frame. On a set up from fellow Middletown-natives Mike Gelatt and Matt Kidney, Tim Gelatt was able to weave a shot through traffic and past big-bodied goalie David Fessenden. That lead would prove to be short-lived.

The speed of the Northeast forecheck, particularly on the rush, continued to give the Knights issues and at 9:30 in the second the dam finally broke. Defenseman Cullen McCabe, on a feed from Hunter Canestra and Bret Parker, ripped a shot from the right point past the glove of Valentine to tie the game at one.

The score would remain deadlocked well into the third with Northeast carrying play on the back of owning a few more quality chances. Fessenden continued to bail his defense out when they stumbled, and at 15 minutes into the 3rd, he was rewarded by his offense. After Luke Perunovich found Christian Thomas streaking up ice, Thomas threaded a perfect lead pass to Alex Cohen in the low slot who in turn drove the puck by Valentine for the go-ahead goal.

With the net empty for the Knights at 18:52, Colin Bilek drove home the game’s final goal (Sato, Perunovich) to put a stop to any hope of a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton comeback. Anchored by Fessenden’s stellar play (28 saves on 29 shots), the Knights inconsistent forecheck and the speed of their own, the Generals skated away with their third win of the season, their second at the Knights expense.

Sunday brought about a new vigor from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as they looked to avoid being the Generals first-ever sweep. Though dressing just four defensemen for a second-straight contest, the Knights struck out from the opening puck drop to right their shortcomings from the night before.

Rookie Northeast netminder Parker Swanson would face a heavy dose of scoring chances early and and often in his first-ever NAHL start. In a period in which the Knights would mount 16 shots on goal, Swanson represented himself well, but at 6:39, the Generals penalty would make a costly mistake.

Matt Kidney, the leading scorer for both teams in their nine games played head-to-head, found himself all alone with the puck just 20 seconds into the game’s first power play. Kidney did what he was drafted to do and ripped the puck past the near post to give his team the early lead. Defenseman Zach Gielarowski, who made his third straight appearance after being called up from the Knights tier-III appearance, notched his first NAHL point on the pass to Joey Verkerke who then set up Kidney on the goal. Despite the Knights growing opportunities, Swanson would not buckle, and  finished the period without allowing another tally.

Picking up right where they left off in the first, the Knights continued to pepper their guests with chances in the middle frame. Reed Robinson, after being denied by Swanson on one breakaway, scored on another at 7:31. The opportunity was set up by a perfectly feathered lead pass from Jim Elser who had been launched by solid passing on the part of Paul Maust.

True to their Saturday form, the Generals would not allow the goal to go unanswered for long. Just 94 seconds later, Hunter Canestra fought through Paul Cimilluca’s shattered stick to the net and slipped the puck past Valentine for the General’s first goal (Perry, Anosau). Despite dictating much of the first 40 minutes of play, somehow the Knights would head to the second intermission with just a single-goal lead.

Entering the third, still working off the momentum of their mid-second period score, the Generals began to mount a growing counter attack. Northeast received a further boost when Knights captain Tim Gelatt had to leave the ice for several shifts to have a facial wound treated. Down to three defensemen, the Knights had to rely on long shifts in their own zone to stay afloat at 2-1.

Shortly after Gelatt’s return to the ice, that gritty defense was rewarded when, off a Mike Gelatt and Matt Kidney passing sequence, Curtis Carlson powered a shot over the shoulder of Swanson to build a 3-1 lead. Ever-quick to respond, Northeast came back with a goal just under three minutes later. Following a deflection off a linesman, Bret Parker found Hunter Canestra over the Knights blue line, where Canestra centered a puck neatly to Arty Anosau parked in front, where he then ripped a puck past Valentine, cutting the WBS lead back to one.

With insurance sorely needed, Tim Gelatt answered the bell once again, notching his third goal of the year and his second in as many games just two minutes later, set up by assists from Jim Elser and Reed Robinson.

With each team trading a pair of penalties in the game’s final  7 minutes, neither was able to solve the other’s penalty kill and as the clock wound down to zero, the Knights were able to take solace in a series-salvaging split with a quickly-improving Northeast squad.

Though neither team was able to feature its healthiest lineup, both teams can take solace in the play of their netminders-both teams had matching save percentages of .929-and positive early returns from players making the NAHL debuts and/or registering their first few appearances. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was boosted by the continued development of the aforementioned defenseman Zach Gielarowski and tier-III teammate Jake Fuss at forward.

The Generals will had Parker Swanson make his NAHL debut in net as well as forward Aiden Boehm stepping into his first tier-II action today as well. Cullen McCabe contributed in a big way with a goal in Saturday’s game after being acquired from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

Next up, Northeast will return home to host the Aston Rebels on February 17th and 18th. The Knights will have a quick turnaround with a Valentine’s Day home game against the New Jersey Titans up next on the docket.

Knights Fall to Aston at Home

Box Score

On Tuesday, the Knights and Rebels met for the 11th time on the season. The Knights had won their last encounter back on December 17th, but the Rebels still controlled the head-to-head series with an 8-2 advantage.

The game started well enough for the Knights when Joey Kubachka registered his first goal of the season on assists from Andrew Jackson and Sam Antonitsch at 7:31 in the first. Antonitsch’s assist extended his point streak to 10 games, currently the best such mark in the NAHL.

Gvido Jansons would respond for the Rebels at 12:06 with his 14th goal of the season (Bellant, Garcia). Three minutes later Aaron Maguyon would tack on another when, following assists from Evgeny Yakovlev and Jensen Zerban, he fired a rebound over the shoulder of Matteo Esposito to give Aston the lead heading into the first intermission.

The Knights would draw even in the second when Joey Verkerke would send a  cross-zone pass to Tim Gelatt who found Joe Schuler with open space in front of Aston goalie Jack Leavy. Schuler ripped his fourth goal of the season home to tie the game at two.

Following a trade of offensive chances but the conclusion of a scoreless second, the Rebels would retake the lead when Gvido Jansons buried a power play goal (Kapcheck) just under four minutes into the third. Jensen Zerban scored just 16 seconds later when he took a pass from Auggie Moore, rolled off the half wall and fired a shot past Esposito to build a two-goal, Aston lead.

As the clock progressed, so too did the penalty minute totals. In the following five minutes, two fighting majors, two game misconducts, three roughing penalties, an unsportsmanlike penalty and a headbutting minor were dolled out between the two teams. Despite the heavy traffic in and out of the penalty boxes and the Knights hitting two posts, the penalty kills held firm.

In the game’s final two minutes, the Knights pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. At 18:59, with a flick of the stick, Gvido Jansons was able to find the empty net from his own end, unassisted to record the hat trick and put the game to bed.

With the loss, the Knights fall to 22-21-1-1. Their next opportunity to climb back up the East Division standings will come Saturday at 7:30 at home against the Northeast Generals.

Knights Cruise to Shutout Win over New Jersey

The Knights took to the ice Sunday looking to avenge a 5-4 loss to the New Jersey Titans from their prior meeting Wednesday night. The Titans for their part, were looking to get back into the win column following back-to-back losses at the hands of the Johnstown Tomahawks.

Things got off to a speedy Titans start, only to see a flurry of solid looks on net turned away by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton netminder Grant Valentine. The Knights quickly flipped the ice when Reed Robinson crashed the net and buried a rebound chance for the game’s first goal at 5:21. After a pitched stretch of scoreless play, Michael Morrissey potted the follow-up to build a 2-0 lead following his tip in of Markuss Komuls’ point shot at 16:51.

With the lead in the second the Knights applied more pressure, and New Jersey penalties began to mount. On the Knights first power play opportunity of the game, following crisp passing from Khristian Acosta and Sam Antonitsch, Matt Kidney stuffed a puck under the pads of Titans goalie Harrison Feeney to extend the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lead to three.

Buoyed by a few sprawling saves made by Grant Valentine, the Knights found themselves on their third power play opportunity late in the second. In the period’s final minute, Keenan Sabatini started a symphony when he fed a puck down from the point to Sam Antonitsch in the near circle. Antonitsch turned, and while facing the opposite direction deftly slid the puck to Paul Maust at the near post. Maust sent the puck across the crease to a waiting Khristian Acosta, who in turn slammed the puck through the back door to build a 4-0 lead at the end of two periods of play.

The third period saw the exchange of many icings, unsportsmanlike penalties and sterling saves by both Valentine and Feeney. With both teams’ lineups consistently altered by one, sometimes two men taking residence in the penalty box, both offenses faltered in sustaining consistent momentum. This served the leading Knights well in holding their advantage. As time dwindled down, the Titans were finally granted some time on the power play. In the game’s closing seconds Valentine defended his shutout, his second of the year, with one more lunging save as time expired, putting a nice layer of icing on the victory’s cake.

With the win, the Knights move back to .500 at 19-19-1-1. They’ll travel to Johnstown Friday for the first of two road games at the Cambria County War Memorial.