By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (1) vs. Rockets Hockey Club (4)
All games played at Revolution Ice Centre
Game 1: Friday, March 10, 12 p.m. EST
Game 2: Saturday, March 11, 1 p.m. EST
Game 3: Sunday, March 12, 4:30 p.m. EST (if necessary)
The USPHL Elite’s top dog, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights are all set to play for a return to the USPHL National Championships and make it a straight 2-for-2 (and it would be an organizational 4-for-4 if the Premier Knights also make it).
Wilkes-Barre was not in first place when the new year of 2023 came around a couple months back, but they were in the pack. In the end, what did it was an amazing 24-0-1-0 points streak for more than the entire second half of the season. WBS last fell in regulation on Nov. 12, in a 5-4 defeat to the New York Aviators.
Top performers such as goalie Dylan Boughen and forwards Eric McHale, Brody Bess and Jason DiMatteo. WBS actually had seven players with 43 or more points this season, with McHale leading the way at 78 points. Boughen crossed the regular season finish line at 15-0-2-0 with a .933 save percentage – both record and percentage ranking in the top three league-wide.
The Knights defeated the Rockets in all six of their regular season meetings this year, though the Rockets did pull out a point from a Dec. 3 OT loss.
The Rockets, who made the Nationals in 2021 and 2022, are obviously no strangers to postseason success. In fact, they were the only team to defeat the eventual National Champion Richmond Generals (in OT) during the Round Robin portion of last year’s championship event.
The Rockets have some solid players on their side to get the job done, including the regular season scoring champion John Crowdell (44 games, 29-54-83). In goal, Michael Grima was an extremely dependable backstop, posting a .919 save percentage and registering three shutouts.
It’ll be a knock-down drag-out battle if for no other reason because of what’s at stake – the series winner goes to the USPHL Nationals, and the losing team closes up shop for 2022-23.