Jeffery Bertrand had a two goal game as part of a three goal third for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but the damage had already been done in what became a 6-3 win for the Northeast Generals.
The Knights end their longest road trip of the season to date with an impressive 4-1 record. They entered played Sunday winners of five straight, and were one of just eight NAHL teams to have won that many consecutive games this season. The loss drops the club to an 11-16-1 mark. Still, the success of this road trip puts the Knights in a playoff spot, sitting two points ahead of Maryland for the fourth seed of the NAHL’s East Division.
Goaltender Zach Stejskal made his sixth straight start and third in as many days. Knights head coach Tom Kowal chose to stay with the hot hand given Stejskal was coming off a 46 save shutout the night prior and had been in goal for all five of his team’s wins during this streak. Unfortunately, fatigue settled in and Stejskal would surrender four goals in the contest, before being relieved by Samuel Vyletelka.
Northeast built themselves to a 2-0 lead through one period. Clark Kerner was the first of six goal scorers for the Generals on Sunday, getting his team up 4:04 into the game. Next, Connor Marshall and Kyle Gierman rushed up the ice with nine minutes to go in the first for a two-on-one. Gierman received the pass for a one-timer that Stejskal got a piece of before popping over top the shoulder and in.
A pair of goals in the second helped the Generals double their lead. Even Shoemaker scored to make it 3-0 and was followed just over two minutes later by Matthew Rutigliano’s 12th of the season.
Wilkes-Barre didn’t roll over after the deficit increased. A three goal period in the third gave life to the Knights. Lincoln Hatten would force a turnover back in the Generals end, then dished the puck to the front of the net for Jeffrey Bertrand to get the grey and blue on the board with 12:10 to play.
Brady Gaudette brought his team back to a four goal lead, but Bertrand would strike again just 33 seconds after the goal. Once again, a Generals turnover in their end allowed the Knights to work in an opportunity. Tyrone Bronte stripped Northeast of the puck behind their net, then fed it to the front of the cage where Bertrand would operate from once more, netting his first multi-goal and multi-point game of his rookie season in the NAHL.
Late in the affair, Generals defenseman Cam Gaudette took a penalty that offered Knights coach Tom Kowal to pull the goalie for what became a six-on-four. With 2:10 to play, William Otwell furthered Wilkes-Barre’s belief in themselves by making it just a 5-4 difference after an absolute mad house in front of Northeast goalie David Fessenden. The net minder was out of position, sprawling left and right as the defense tried to support him, but Otwell had the net to fire at and did so to keep the game alive.
The Knights got one or two more quality chances after the goal to tie the game, but Aurel Naus found the empty net for Northeast to seal the deal with 33 seconds left.
After a grueling road trip, the Knights are given off practice Monday, but return to work the following day in preparation for a weekend at home to host the Jamestown Rebels.