Generals Take 2 of 3 in Tight Series with Knights
By Patrick Garriepy
The Northeast Generals, reeling from back-to-back losses to division-leading New Jersey, took to the road this past weekend in search of greater consistency and better lucky after a slow start to the season.
After a trip to Pennsylvania, the Generals may have found their rallying point in taking two of three games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
Northeast have found themselves getting off to slow starts in many games this season, surrendering the first goal and digging early holes. Game 1 of the weekend would be a familiar story, as the Knights would jump out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of two Johnny Kaljian (5) goals. Northeast responded once before the end of the first period, thanks to a Kyle Gierman (1) one-timer on the powerplay.
As the second period opened, the Knights quickly found themselves on their heels as the Generals jumped all over goaltender Zach Stejskal. Joseph Mancuso (3) and Ethan Destefani (4) tallied goals for the Generals, who grabbed their first lead of the night. Like several other games this season, the lead wouldn’t last as Sutton MacDonald (2) quickly tied the game just 1:08 after Destefani’s tally.
The 3-3 deadlock remained until late into the third period when Generals defenseman Cam Gaudette would get whistled for interference, sending the Knights to the power play. Lincoln Hatten found Tyrone Bronte alone in the slot, as he snapped home go-ahead goal with just 2:10 remains. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would hold on to take game 1 by a final of 4-3, leaving Northeast once again back at the drawing board try to find answers and consistency.
With another blown lead behind them, the Generals took to the ice for game 2 looking to send a message and trend upward. Early on, they looked to be off to a good start as Clark Kerner found Kyle Gierman jumping into the rush. Kerner found Gierman with a perfect tape-to-tape pass as Gierman fired home his second goal in two games, beating WBS goaltender Stejskal for the early 1-0 lead. The score remained throughout the first period, and that’s when the game would make it’s first of two dramatic turns.
With newcomer McLean Dorr in net, things appeared to be going steadily. Through nearly half of the game, he kept the Knights off the scoreboard as the Generals clinged to their 1-0 lead. That’s when the wheels came off.
Within five minutes of game action, McLean found himself on the bench having surrendered a quick four goals to Shane Murphy, Lincoln Hatten, Nikita Asylaev and Johnny Kaljian. The Generals, now suddenly trailing by 3, were scrambling. McLean was replaced by Joey Stanizzi, who was greeted by the Knights with a fifth goal just four minutes after he took to the ice. While the Generals were able to hold off any further barrage, the damage had been done as both teams exited the ice for the second intermission. The story looked to be a familiar one for Northeast – flashes of promise and reason for optimism, met by a sudden change in the script. That’s when things flipped again.
Trailing by four going into the third period, after surrendering leads in three straight games – The Generals would need the kind of effort that could alter the course of a season. Their impending comeback would hit quick and hard, like a category 5 storm. Within just a few minutes of the period beginning, Northeast found themselves on the climb back up the mountain. First, Joseph Mancuso found himself on the right end of a broken play as he collected a loose puck in the high slot and snapped home a wrister, making the score 5-2. Just two minutes later, Ethan Destefani found himself alone in front of the net and fired home a pass from Jack Ring for his fifth goal of the season.
The 5-3 score prompted a timeout from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton bench to attempt to settle things down, but it wouldn’t manifest it’s intended result for the Knights. The Generals continued to press and apply pressure, circling the offensive zone. Tyler Cooper was able to snap a wrister toward the net, where Gens center Trevor Smith could pop in the rebound for what would also be his fifth of the year. Less than five minutes into the third, Northeast was right back to within one.
Just one minute later, Northeast alternate captain Gerard Marretta would find paydirt, one-timing a cross-ice pass home from defenseman Mick Heneghan. Within six minutes of the third period starting, the Generals had made their amends and tied the score at 5. The Generals outshot the Knights 12-4 in the period, as the 5-5 deadlock lasted past overtime into a shootout. Jack Ring would tally the only goal of the extra frame, completing the Generals comeback and propelling them to an unlikely 6-5 win.
Coming off their dramatic rally, the Generals took to the ice once more on Sunday as they looked to take the weekend series from the Knights. Back in net for the Generals was Joey Stanizzi, who was coming off his second win of the season in relief of McLean Dorr. Much like the previous two games, game 3 was another competitive battle.
Still feeding off the energy from the previous day’s win, the Generals jumped out front 2-0 with a couple of quick strikes early in game 3. With play in the offensive zone, Jared Lambright snuck in from his position on the blue line to receive a pass and stuff home a backhand. For the second straight game, the Generals claimed the early lead thanks to the rookie defenseman’s first goal of the year. 34 seconds later, Clark Kerner would score his first of the season as he and Ethan Destefani rushed in alone on a 2 man breakaway. Kerner was able to one-time home a Destefani pass, doubling the Generals lead to 2-0.
The Knights and Generals would go onto exchange the final two goals of the period; Liam Haslam scored his fourth of the season for WBS, while Joseph Mancuso cashed in his fifth of the season and third of the weekend.
Period two saw Wilkes-Barre/Scranton draw even with Northeast once again, as goals from Tyrone Bronte (3) and Lincoln Hatten (9) temporarily leveled the score. Having battled through several blown leads early in the season, the Generals set out to atone for their past mistakes and see their weekend’s effort through. Five minutes after Hatten’s tally for WBS, the Generals found themselves on the power play with a chance to retake the lead. Northeast winger Clark Kerner would find himself drifting alone in the high slot, awaiting an opportunity. For the second time that afternoon, Ethan Destefani snapped a pass to the open Kerner who rocketed home a one-timer. The goal gave the Generals the lead back with less than two minutes remaining in the second and they would not relinquish it.
Gens Goaltender Joey Stanizzi was able to turn aside all six shots he faced in the third period, preserving the narrow one-goal margin and securing his third victory of the season. The win keeps the Generals in fourth place in the East Division, just one point ahead of the Maine Nordiques.
Northeast will continue it’s October road swing next weekend, as they match up with the Johnstown Tomahawks for the first time since last season’s contentious playoff battle. The three-game series gets underway on Friday, October 25th at 1st Summit Arena in Johnstown, PA.