By Marlee Bulman / USPHLElite.com
Seed: Mid-Atlantic #1
Round Robin Schedule
All games to be played at Utica University Nexus Center, Utica, N.Y.
Game 1: Thursday, March 23, vs Islanders Hockey Club, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: Friday, March 24, vs Tampa Bay Juniors, 5 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, March 25 th , vs Carolina Jr Hurricanes, 5 p.m.
Coming off a 7-2 win for their final regular season game, going straight into back to back wins for the playoffs (10-2 and 6-4), the USPHL Elite Regular Season Champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights are heading to Nationals.
“The boys were ecstatic at the final buzzer. Everything they have worked so hard for this season finally paid off,” said Head Coach Gaetano Moirano. “It’s allowed us to showcase our talent and depth against the other top contenders in the USPHL Elite Division.”
This season the Knights were on fire, ending with 44 games played they posted a 39-3-80. Just to put it into perspective, their last streak was 24 straight wins before being stopped.
This team was knocked down last year, and fought hard to make it to the top. Growth like this doesn’t happen overnight.
“After being knocked out in the semifinals last season, our veterans have made it their mission to make it all the way to the championship game this year,” Moirano said. “Our experience and young talent have been integral in our team’s success.”
In this exciting time to be playing, sometimes expectations can be lost or forgotten. For the WBSK, what their coach wants is simple.
“I expect our guys to be ready to showcase their talent and team play come puck drop,” Moirano added.
Talent doesn’t touch what these guys have. As someone who’s been reporting on them all season, I practically have their lines memorized from talking about their successes. Namely Brody Bess (’05) who posted an amazing 32-26-58 in 34 games played for the regular season, and a 4-3-7 averaging 3.5 points per game in the playoffs.
Then we have Eric McHale, top scorer of the WBSK who within 42 games posted a 25-51-76 with his goal average a 1.81 for the regular season. In the playoffs, no surprise, he’s posted a 1-5-6 line and three points per game average.
Their Coach gave them credit for making it far in the playoffs.
“Our young guns, Brody Bess and Eric McHale, were phenomenal during our series vs. Rockets Hockey Club. Together they totaled 13 points in two games.”
A team isn’t complete without their veterans.
“Jared Showen is just one example of our veteran core who contributed to our team’s success,” Moirano said.
Showen had no problem Showen-up, posting a 20-26-46 in 26 games during the regular, and popping off in the playoffs with a 1-4-5 line.
In goal, Dylan Boughen went undefeated in regulation, going 15-0-2-0. He was second in wins, third in save percentage (.933) and and seventh in goals against average (2.22). Samuel Russo was a top 10 scorer among defensemen with 31 points and was third in goals scored among Elite blueliners with 15. Oliver Kiel Straarup had 3
This team has what it takes to keep fighting, they have a good formula, dare I say a great one even.
“The overall dynamic these players bring to the ice is something to be witnessed first-hand. Not much will change. We will stick to our game plan and maintain the same intensity that allowed us to be consistent all season,” Moirano added.
“Our focus is on our training and recovery. However, we [were] entertaining the idea of attending an AHL game over the weekend before heading to Utica next week.”
Their plans right this moment? Well, there’s just winning on the mind.