It felt like a professional hockey game. The music and videos. The large portions of food and even larger sizes of drinks. Oh and the hockey. The crowd of almost 2,000 witnessed the first North American Hockey League game played at the venue of a National Hockey League team in over twenty years as the Philadelphia Rebels defeated the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights 3 – 0 at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly.
It was the second straight 3 – 0 win for the Rebels over the Knights to complete the weekend sweep. The Rebels are now four points away from clinching a tie for their third straight East Division championship and five points from sealing it.
In a game in which Knights goaltender David Tomeo was outstanding, it was the Rebels powerplay that propelled the win with two more man-advantage goals. Philadelphia leads the NAHL with an astounding 31% conversion ratio with the extra attacker and it contributed to the team’s first two goals.
Knights forward Jake Fuss was called for tripping at 4:56 into the first period to put the Rebels on their first man advantage of the night.
With time winding down in the penalty, Jensen Zerban would pick up the loose puck at the top of the far side faceoff circle. He would pass it back to Kolby Vegara at the top of the point. Vegara would send a return pass back to Zerban who immediately passed it down to Aaron Maguyon who was to the right of Tomeo. Maguyon would send a crisp pass across the goalmouth and Brandon Stanley one-timed it past Tomeo to give the Rebels an early 1 – 0 lead.
The Rebels entered the second period outshooting the Knights 9 – 1, and they could have had a significantly larger lead but Tomeo had to make some 10 bell saves to keep his team in the game.
With 8:33 left in the middle period, Knights defenseman Blake Kryska was called for tripping to give the Rebels their second man advantage of the night. Almost two minutes later Carson Moniz would score his seventh goal on the season.
As the powerplay was about to expire, Nico Appendino had the puck at the top of the point and passed it to Ryan Patrick at the head of the far side faceoff circle. The Rebels captain took a shot that was blocked out front. As Knights defenseman Shay Donovan went to clear the puck it was intercepted by Carson Moniz who buried the biscuit past Tomeo to give the Rebels a 2 – 0 with 6:37 left in the second.
Appendino would score his first NAHL 10:58 left in the game to make it a 3 – 0 game.
After Zerban won the draw deep inside the Knights zone, the puck would go back to Appendino at the point. He would pass it to Maguyon on his left and the Egg Harbor Twp. native took a shot on net that was blocked out front and the rebound went to the end boards where it was picked up by Zerben. The Air Force Academy commit started to skate up the side boards and found Appendino on his left streaking towards the net. Appendino took a wrist shot that beat Tomeo high stick side to close out the scoring.
As the siren sounded to end the game both teams gathered at center ice to have a photo taken together to conclude the festive night.
Ryan Keane turned aside all fourteen shots he faced while Tomeo turned aside 30 of 33. Click here for the box score.
It was Keane’s second straight shutout of the weekend and third on the season. He is the second goalie in team history to record back-to-back shutouts in the same weekend (Mareks Mitens recorded the feat against the Knights last season). It was the second time in Rebels history that it beaten an opposing team by the same score in a weekend (3 – 0 in each game against the Kenai River Brown Bears last year).
The Rebels and Knights will face each other two more times on Thursday and Friday of next week.