The Philadelphia Rebels now sit atop the North American Hockey League’s East Division after defeating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights this afternoon 6 – 3 at the Revolution Ice Centre. Jensen Zerban scored two goals and goalie Ryan Keane had to make several key saves to hold off the Knights.
With the blueline depleted with injuries and sickness, the Rebels played with three new defensemen – one of them being Nick Peck. The Boothwyn, PA native made an immediate impact by scoring his first NAHL goal at 4:58 into the opening period.
With the Knights trying to breakout of their own zone, Peter Zhong intercepted an outlet pass at the top of the blueline. Zhong passed it up to Auggie Moore who skated towards the near side boards. Moore passed the puck back to Peck at the point who took a wrist shot that beat Knights goalie Christian Stover long side to give the Rebels an early 1 – 0 lead.
WBS’ Joseph Verkerke was called for slashing with 7:02 remaining in the period to put the Rebels on the powerplay. Eighteen seconds later Ryan Patrick made it 2 – 0 Rebels.
After Jensen Zerban won the draw at the Knights near side faceoff circle, the puck went back to Andrew Bellant at the point. Bellant sent a pass across to Patrick at the top of the slot and Patrick took a one-timer that beat Stover short side with 6:44 left in the first.
The Rebels weren’t finished scoring in the opening period.
A minute and a half later Zerban would score his first goal of the game. Zerban had the puck down low in the Knights’ far side corner. He passed the puck back to Bellant at the faceoff circle who in turn sent a pass back to Seth Bergeron at the near side point. The rookie from Las Vegas, NV took a shot on net that was saved by Stoever but Patrick picked up the rebound and put a backhander past the Knights fallen goalie to make at a 3 – 0 game with 5:17 left in first.
The Knights then made a goalie change by replacing Stoever with David Tomeo.
After Eric Olson won the draw in the Knights zone, the puck went back to Bergeron at the point. Bergeron sent a pass down to Moore who was at the glove side of Tomeo. The Rebels’ forward skated out and sent a cross-ice pass to another new defenseman Tyler Pohlig. Pohlig took a shot that found its way through a screen and beat Tomeo to give the Rebels a 4 – 0 lead.
Outshooting the Knights 13 – 7 after the first, the Rebels looked to add to their advantage. Jimmy Glynn intercepted a Knights outlet pass in the neutral zone and passed the puck to Aaron Maguyon at the far side blueline. Maguyon entered the offensive zone and sent a drop pass to Glynn. As Glynn skated towards the net he dropped passed the puck to Brandon Stanley who lifted it passed Tomeo into the cage to give the Rebels a 5 – 0 lead just 7:05 into the second.
Then all of a sudden, the momentum of the game dramatically changed.
Rebels defenseman Mark Leach was called for cross-checking at 7:58 to give the Knights the extra attacker. Eleven seconds later the Knights were able to get on the board.
After Keane made a blocker save, the deep rebound came out to Curtis Carlson along the near side boards. Carlson passed the puck down low to Anthony Firriolo. Firriolo immediately passed it out to Justin Engelkes. The puck bounced off of Engelkes skate and went directly to Jake Olmstead who was left all alone in the slot and he put the biscuit behind Keane to make it a 5 – 1 game.
Three and a half minutes later the Knights made it 5 – 2.
Engelkes took a wrister from the far side faceoff dot that was saved by Keane but the puck bounced out of his glove directly to Tyrone Bronte. Bronte passed the puck to Mike Gelatt who was in the goal mouth and he redirected the puck passed Keane for his eighth goal on the season.
The Knights looked to continue to dominate the game going into the third. After Bronte won the draw deep inside the Rebels zone, the puck went back to the top of the near side faceoff circle to Engelkes. Engelkes would take a wrist shot that snuck by Keane short side to make it a 5 – 3 Rebels lead with 11:39 left in the period.
With the Knights continuing the pressure the Rebels, Keane had to keep the Rebels in the game by making several in-close saves.
Zerban would then put the nail in the coffin with his second goal of the game. Pohlig sent an outlet pass up to Bellant at center ice. Bellant skated into the Knights zone on a 2 on 1 with Zerban. Bellant passed the puck to Zerban on his right and Zerban put the puck through Tomeo’s five hole to finish the scoring with 3:38 remaining in regulation.
Zerban had three points in the game. Keane stopped 33 of 36 shots while Stoever and Tomeo combined to turn aside 25 of the 31 shots they faced. Click here for the box score.
The two teams will play each other for two games this upcoming Saturday and Sunday at the Revolution Ice Centre.