Thriller Bounces Away from Knights

The Knights will see the score and probably still have trouble believing it. A grinding contest with the Johnstown Tomahawks needed more than 60 minutes to be resolved, but for much of that time, the Knights carried the tempo of a grueling slugfest.

Things began on a high note at 9:37 when Mike Gelatt was set up by Khristian Acosta and Dorian Dawson just eight seconds into the Knights first of four power plays. It was the second straight game the Knights converted on the powerplay and the second-consecutive power play in which the Knights scored in the first eight seconds.

The 1-0 lead fell by the wayside less than two minutes later when Roman Kraemer scored his first career goal in his first career NAHL game. Dalton Hunter scored six minutes later when he ripped a laser of a shot past Grant Valentine at 17:40 to create a 2-1 Johnstown advantage.

The contest revved up in intensity and physicality in the second with the Knights beginning to gain the better of the scoring opportunities. They were time and again turned away by Tomahawks goalie Drew Hotte. The Gwynedd, PA native was rock steady in net, denying the best the Knights chances in the second and well into the third. Despite the lack of goal production the Knights aggressive pressure on the forecheck kept the Tomahawks out of the zone for long stretches of both periods.

With a scoreless second act and no goals for the first 14 minutes of the third, it appeared the Knights, despite their solid play, would run out of time. On an innocent clearing effort from deep in his own zone, Joey Kubachka angled the puck high off the glass, and straight down to Sam Antonitsch’s stick. The power-forward settled the puck in stride and scorched by the Tomahawks defense. His forehand-backhand flip of the puck beat Hotte over the shoulder and tied the game at two at 14:20 in the third period.

The Tomahawks pushed back in the final five and a half minutes to mount a few chances, and spurn the Knights search for the game-winner but ultimately neither team was able to bury a goal.

Overtime began with a spirited Knights charge into the offensive zone before Johnstown turned the puck back to the forecheck. While his team was the midst of a change, Filips Buncis pinned then carried the puck down the half wall before cutting to the net. With his teammates trailing behind him, Buncis was taken to the ice and in the process the puck was freed to Nick Bruce, who promptly flipped the puck over Valentine’s shoulder for the game-winning score just 52 seconds in.

The 3-2 loss gives the Knights a point back for their effort, but it no doubt feels like a game that got away. It also marks their third loss in a row both to Johnstown and overall. They’ll have a chance to return to the win column Sunday as they’ll once again face the Tomahawks at 12:30 pm.