Tag Archives: Drew Blackmun

Rebels Alumni Update – December 2017

When Andrew Bellant committed to Michigan Tech back on November 30, he became the twenty third member in Rebels history to announce his NCAA commitment while actively playing for the team. With college hockey in full swing we wanted to provide a brief “where are they now” alumni update.

Dean Balsamo
After committing to Bentley University and beginning last season there, “Dino” transferred to Adrian College where he finished out the season having scored eleven points (6 goals and 5 assists) in sixteen games. This season he currently has six points (2 goals and 4 assists) in nine games.

Victor Bergstrom
“Vic” is currently attending Plymouth State University. Last season the defenseman had eight points (2 goals and 6 assists) in seventeen games. This season he currently has thirteen points (5 goals and 8 assists) in twelve games.

Kristofers Bindulis
After playing last season at Lake Superior State University where he had twelve points (1 goal and 11 assists) in twenty-eight games, “Bindy” signed a two-way contract with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League back in March. This season he has played in six games for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and he has eight points (2 goals and 6 assists) in thirteen games for the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League.

Drew Blackmun
“Blacky” is second in all-time games played for the Rebels with 116. He committed to Northeastern University where he currently has played in two games for the Huskies with no points.

Ryan Cusin
After playing at the University of Massachusetts Boston last season where he 40 points (16 goals and 24 assists) in 25 games, “Cuso” transferred to Adrian College this season where he currently has five points (2 goals and 3 assists) in nine games.

Chris DePrez
“Daddy” committed to Marian University where he had one point in four games last year. This season he has two points (1 goal and 1 assist) in ten games.

Gianluca Esteves
After finishing he junior career with the Rebels last year, “Esty” or “Gino” committed to Michigan State where he has a point (assist) in seventeen games this year for the Spartans.

Dom Garcia
Dom is second in three all-time franchise categories: Points (74), Goals (28) and Assists (46). He committed to Arizona State where he currently has one point (assist) in seventeen games for the Sun Devils.

Andrew Hart
After joining the team back in February from a trade with Topeka, the forward finished his Rebels career with ten points (6 goals and 4 assists) in fourteen games. He committed to SUNY Geneseo where he has played in one game.

Darion Hanson
After backstopping the Rebels to their first East Division championship, “Hanny” committed to Union College. During this past summer he was invited to participate in the Philadelphia Flyers prospect camp where he was the winning goalie in the 3 on 3 tournament. In eight games so far for Union this season, he has an impressive 1.76 goals against average and .926 save percentage.

Gvido Jansons
The highly skilled defenseman with a bomb of shot committed to Arizona State where he has two points (both goals) in eighteen games for the Sun Devils.

Brennan Kapcheck
The Rebels’ 2016-17 Defenseman of the Year committed to American International College where he has had an impressive freshman season. “Kappy” has fifteen points (4 goals and 11 assists) in nineteen games. He was named Atlantic Hockey’s Rookie of the Month for October, and he has helped AIC have its winningest first half since the 1998-99 season.

Colton McMenamin
“Mac” had four points (2 goals and 2 assists) in 23 games for Stevenson University last season. This year he has four points (all goals) in twelve games for the Mustangs.

Michael Merulla
The franchise’s all-time point leader per game (1.146) committed to Boston College where he appeared in three games last season with no points and has yet to play in a game so far this season for the Eagles.

Jerry Miettunen
The Finish defenseman committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior where last season he eight points (3 goals and 5 assists) in twenty-eight games. This season he has played in six games with no points.

Mareks Mittens
The North American Hockey League’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player and Best Goaltender committed to Lake State where “Mits” has appeared in eleven games and has posted a 3.67 goals against average and a .892 save percentage.

Ryan Solomon
Posting the NAHL’s best +/- for the 2016-17 season with a +39, “Solly” committed to Northeastern but has yet to play in a game.

Frank Spellman
“Frankie” committed to Endicott College where he had eight points (1 goal and 7 assists) in twenty-two games last season. This year he transferred to the University of St. Thomas where he has four points (all assists) in seven games.

Austin Swingle
“Swings” had eleven points (4 goals and 7 assists) in twenty-two games last season for Stevenson University. This year he three points (2 goals and 1 assist) in eleven games for the Mustangs.

Mason Van Tuyl
“Mas” had one point (assist) in twenty-two games for the University of Wisconsin River Falls last season.

Evgeny Yakovlev
“Gino” or “Yak” scored the winning goal in game three of last season’s semi-finals to send the Rebels to the Robertson Cup finals committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior has four points (1 goal and 3 assists) in thirteen games this season.

Rebels win 4 – 2 over Wings to take one game lead in semi-finals

The Aston Rebels used three points from Drew Blackmun and a strong performance by goaltender Mareks Mitens to lead them to a 4 – 2 win over the Aberdeen Wings The victory gives the Rebels a one game to none advantage in this best-of-three semi-final series.

The Rebels would get on the board first. Kolby Vegara would bring the puck up through center ice and into the Wings zone. As soon as he brought the puck in the zone he passed it to Drew Blackmun on his right. Blackmun would dump the puck into the far side corner where Vegara chased it. Vegara would pick up the puck and send it back to Blackmun along the boards. The Rebels’ assistant captain passed it over to a wide-open Carter Woolley in the slot and he took a one-timer that beat Aberdeen goaltender Forbes Ploszaj short side to make it a 1 – 0 game with 5:57 remaining in the first period. It was Woolley’s first goal of the playoffs.

After a save by Mitens the rebound was picked up by Ryan Patrick. Patrick would bring the puck up through the neutral zone on a two-on-one with Gianluca Esteves. As Patrick brought the puck in the offensive zone he passed it to Esteves on his right. Esteves caught Ploszaj moving and the Winnipeg, MB native took a wrist shot that beat Ploszaj long side to make it a 2 – 0 with 2:37 remaining in the first.

The Rebels would take a 3 – 0 lead on Dom Garica’s first goal of the playoffs. After a draw deep inside the Wings far side zone, Aberdeen defenseman Jack Kelly went to pass the puck up to a teammate but it was intercepted by Garcia in the neutral zone. Garcia brought the puck along the boards and took a wrist shot that beat the netminder high, short side with 6:20 left in the second period.

The momentum of the game then changed to the Wings benefit. After peppering Mitens with shots, the Central Division playoff champions would get on the board with 3:16 left in the middle stanza.

Garcia was called goaltender interference 2:58 left in the period to give the Wings the extra attacker. Colton Fletcher would bring the puck up out of his own end and it the Rebels zone to the top of the near side faceoff circle. Fletcher passed it down low to Carter Roo. Roo started to go to his left but immediately stopped and passed the puck back to Fletcher who was near Mitens blocker side. Fletcher took a shot that beat Mitens long side to make it a 3 – 1 game.

With time running out on the second period and the Rebels playing on their heels, the Wings cut their deficit in half with a second remaining. Blackmun picked up a rebound and brought it behind the Rebels net. As he tried an outlet pass it was intercepted by Kevin Fitzgerald at the far side faceoff circle. Fitzgerald moved slightly forward and beat Mitens for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Trying to capitalize on their success at the end of the second period, the Wings started the final period strong but Mitens had to make a couple of Grade A saves to maintain the Rebels one goal lead. The Rebels then began to play shutout defense and limited the Wings to minimal shots in the third. Blackmun would then score an empty net goal forty-eight seconds left in the game to make it a 4 – 2 game.

Mitens would turn aside 30 of 32 shots while Ploszaj stopped 20 of 23 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels need one more win to advance the NAHL’s Robertson Cup finals. They play the Wings in game two tomorrow at 5:30pm ET.

Weekend Preview: 5/11 – 5/14. Rebels look to bring home the Robertson Cup

Robertson Cup Preview
The North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup semi-finals begin today at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center in Duluth, MN. There are two series featuring the number one seed Aston Rebels (East Division) against the number four seed Aberdeen Wings (Central Division) while the number two seed Lone Star Brahmas (South Division) will square off against the number three seed Janesville Jets (Midwest Division). The winner of each best-of-three series will play in winner-take-all finals on Sunday, May 14 at 2:00pm ET.

Aston Rebels Overview
The Rebels were the NAHL’s regular season champions possessing a 46-11-2-1 record for 95 points. Aston swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights three games to none in the divisional semi-finals and then defeated the New Jersey Titans three games to two in a thrilling divisional final. The Rebels have never faced either Aberdeen or Lone Star. Aston defeated Janesville very early in the season at the Showcase 4-0.

During the playoffs, the Rebels have been led by three players who each have seven points: Evgeny Yakovlev (4 goals and 3 assists), Gianluca Esteves (3 goals and 4 assists) and Aaron Maguyon (1 goal and 6 assists). Yakovlev, Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have four goals. Andrew Bellant leads the team in penalty minutes (12) while Jansons has a team high +7 +/- ratio. The Rebels enter the Robertson Cup having scored the most goals of the four teams (28) while they have allowed the second most with twenty. During the playoffs, the Rebels are fourth on the power play converting on 26.1% of the time while they are ranked eleventh on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 73.7% of the time. Goaltenders Jack Leavy and Mareks Mitens have a combined 2.32 goals against average and a .891 save percentage.

Lone Star Brahmas
The Lone Star Brahmas finished in first in the South Division during the regular season with a 44-14-2 record for 90 points. They defeated the Wichita Falls Wildcats three games to none in the divisional semi-finals and then beat the Corpus Christi Ice Rays three games to two in the divisional finals.

The Brahmas are led by Drake Glover’s seven points (3 goals and four assists). Three players each have six points: Carson Kelley (4 goals and 2 assists), Troy York (4 goals and 2 assists) and Hunter Stanley (1 goal and 5 assists). Kelley and York lead the team with four goals respectively. John Zimmerman leads the team in penalty minutes with ten while Kelley leads the team in plus/minus ratio with +5. Lone Star is tied with the Wings for having scored twenty-three goals while the Brahmas have allowed the second least amount of goals with eighteen. Lone Star is ranked sixth during the playoffs on the power play converting twenty percent of the time while they are ranked eighth on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 85.7% of the time.  Max Prawdzik has played in six games between the pipes. He has a 1.83 goals against average and a .911 save percentage with two shutouts.

Janesville Jets
The Jets won the regular season Midwest Division championship with a 42-13-1-4 record for 89 points. They defeated the Coulee Region Chill three games to none in the divisional semi-finals and then beat the defending NAHL champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs three games to one in the divisional finals.

Janesville is led by Kip Hoffman’s eleven points (7 goals and 4 assists). Hoffman also leads the team with four goals. Forward Keegan Miller has the most penalty minutes with ten while Hoffman also has the team’s best +/- ratio with +10. The Jets have scored the second most goals with 25 while they have allowed the least with thirteen. During the playoffs, the Jets are ranked twelfth on the power play converting 11.1% of the time while they are thirteenth on the penalty kill having prevent the opposition from scoring 66.7% of the time.            Jacob Barczewski have played in all seven of the Jets’ playoff games. He has a 1.72 goals against average and a .935 save percentage with one shutout. Local native alert: Audubon, NJ native and former Team Comcast defenseman Colin Felix plays on the Jets.

Aberdeen Wings
The Wings finished in fourth in the Central Division during the regular season with a 29-24-3-4 record for 65 points. However, the Wings had the best record in the division during the last thirty games of the regular season. Aberdeen defeated Central Division regular season champion Minot Minotauros three games to one during the divisional semi-finals and then defeated the Minnesota Wilderness three games to two during the divisional finals.

Aberdeen is led by Kevin Fitzgerald’s nine points (3 goals and 6 assists) and Colin Raver (6 goals and 2 assists) and Carson Dimoff’s (4 goals and 4 assists) eight points. Raver leads the team with six goals. The Wings have four players respective with twelve penalty minutes (Colton Fletcher, Jack Kelly, Dusan Kmec and Riley Murphy). Three players (Filip Dusek, Dimoff and Fitzgerald) each have a +3 +/- ratio. The Wings have the most goals of the four remaining playoff teams with twenty-three. The Wings are ranked ninth on the power play during the playoffs converting on 12.5% of the time while they ranked seventh on the penalty kill having prevent the opposition from scoring 90% of the time. Forbes Ploszaj has played in all nine playoff games posting a 2.20 goals against average and a .922 save percentage with one shutout.

Robertson Cup Schedule

Rebels vs. Wings
Game 1: Thursday, May 11 at 5:30pm (ET)
Game 2: Friday, May 12 at 5:30pm (ET)
Game 3: Saturday, May 13 at 4:00pm (ET) – if necessary

Lone Star Brahmas vs. Janesville Jets
Game 1: Thursday, May 11 at 8:30pm (ET)
Game 2: Friday, May 12 at 8:30pm (ET)
Game 3: Saturday, May 13 at 7:00pm (ET) – if necessary

NAHL Championship Game
Sunday, May 14 at 2:00pm (ET) – winner of Rebels/Wings vs. winner of Brahmas/Jets

Rebels win game five 6 – 2 to advance to NAHL’s semi-finals in Duluth

Evgeny Yakovlev scored two goals to lead the Aston Rebels to a 6 – 2 victory over the visiting New Jersey Titans. The win enabled the Rebels to win their second straight East Division playoff championship three games to two and advance to the NAHL’s semi-finals in Duluth, MN as the league’s number one seed.

The Rebels will play the winner of tonight’s fifth and deciding game between the Aberdeen Wings and Minnesota Wilderness.

This was a very good series with both teams displaying grit, determination, speed and physicality. It was a shame one of them had to lose. Each team pushed the other and helped the other prepare for the semi-finals.

New Jersey’s Hunter Alden was called for cross-checking at the 11:39 mark of the first period putting the Rebels on the power play. With time winding down with the extra attacker, Ryan Solomon brought the puck out of his own zone and passed it up to Drew Blackmun. Blackmun would take a wrist shot that was kicked aside by Titans goalie Ryan Ferland into the far corner. Blackmun would pick up his own rebound and passed it back slightly to Gianluca Esteves. Esteves passed it back to Solomon at the top of the point and he took shot that beat Ferland long side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead with 6:35 remaining in the opening period.

After outshooting the Titans 12 – 4 after one period, the Rebels looked to grow their lead. And they did by scoring two goals 1:17 apart from each other early in the second.

After Dustin Manz won the draw deep inside the Titans zone the puck would go into the near side corner where it was picked up by Adam Peck. Peck would battle for the puck and passed it up slightly along the boards to Andrew Hart. Hart would charge towards the net and take a shot that was saved by Ferland but Peck picked up the rebound and put it past Ferland to make it a 2 – 0 Rebels lead just 2:16 into the second.

Yakovlev then would score his first goal of the night to give the Rebels a 3 – 0 lead. New Jersey’s Anthony Cusanelli hustled into the Rebels zone to prevent an icing call. As he picked up the puck he went to pass it back to a teammate but it was intercepted by Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon would bring the puck up along the far side boards and into the Titans zone. As he reached the faceoff dot he found a trailing Yakovlev in the slot and the big Russian buried Maguyon’s pass by Ferland at the 3:33 mark of the middle stanza.

New Jersey, however, never quit. Gordie Helmuth would put the Titans on the board just 2:17 later. After time had just expired on Gvido Jansons cross-checking penalty there was a faceoff deep inside the Rebels near side zone. Alden would win the draw and the puck came out to Helmuth who immediately took a shot that beat Rebels goalie Jack Leavy short side to make it a 3 – 1 game.

The Rebels would regain the three-goal lead with 5:45 left in the second. Maguyon would bring the puck into the Titans zone and immediately passed it over to Esteves on his right. Esteves would take a shot that was saved by Ferland but Maguyon picked up the rebound and passed the puck back to Jansons at the top of the point. Jansons would slightly skate further into the zone and took a wrist shot that beat Ferland high to make it a 4 – 1 game. Ferland was then replaced by Brandon Perrone.

A minute and twenty-eight seconds later Helmuth cut the Rebels lead in two again. After Dom Garcia dumped the puck into the Titans zone for a line change it was picked up by Helmuth in the high slot. Helmuth saw daylight and skated untouched into the Rebels zone. As he crossed the blueline he took a wrist shot the beat Leavy glove side to make a 4 – 2 game with 4:17 remaining in the period.

Yakovlev would score his second goal of the game a minute and nine seconds later. Maguyon, who had three assists on the evening, won the draw deep inside the Titans far side corner. The puck went back to Yakovlev at the top of the circle and he took a shot that beat Perrone 3:08 left in the second. It was Yakovlev’s fourth goal of the playoffs.

The Rebels continued to play shutdown defense in the third. With time winding down in the game and Perrone pulled for the extra attacker, Blackmun would score his fourth goal of the playoffs – an empty netter –  with thirty-seven seconds left to make it a 6 – 2 game.

Leavy stopped 14 of 16 shots with Ferland/Perrone turned aside 34 of 39 shots. Click here for the box score.

After finding out who they will play later tonight, the Rebels will have a practice on Tuesday and then take a 8:30am flight out to Minneapolis on Wednesday morning. The team will have a brief practice at 8:00pm ET and their first game will be played on Thursday at 5:30pm ET.

Weekend Preview: 5/5 – 5/7. Divisional Final round moves to New Jersey. Rebels one win away from advancing to semi-finals

The East Division finals will resume this weekend with the Rebels up two games to none against the New Jersey Titans in this best-of-five series. Game three will be played on Friday at Middletown’s Ice World at 7:30pm. Game four would be on Saturday at 7:30pm at Ice World if needed. Should the series go to a fifth and final game, it would be played on Sunday, May 7 at 7:00pm at IceWorks. The winner of this series will go onto the Robertson Cup semi-finals which begins on Thursday, May 11 in Duluth, MN.

Closing out the series is the hardest thing to do, and during the course of the regular season the Rebels had a losing record on the road against the Titans, winning only two of six games. This has been an extremely hard fought series – typical playoff hockey with excellent goaltending, physical and fast play.

“This has been a great series” stated Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “Yes, we are up but don’t be fooled. Each game could have gone either way. I think Saturday night was an overall great game for both teams. New Jersey is very fast. Craig and his staff have done an outstanding job. We need one more win and it will be extremely tough. We can’t afford to make any mistakes or New Jersey will make us pay for it” concluded Coombs.

The Rebels have outscored the Titans eight goals to four in the two games. Max Andreev leads the Titans with two goals against Aston. Andreev and Oskar Stromberg each have two points in the series. The Titans are one for three on the power play (33%). Titans goalie Ryan Ferland has played in both games. He possesses a 3.50 goals against average and a .865 save percentage.

The Rebels have used a balanced attack in this series with all eight goals being scored by different players. In fact, six players (Andrew Bellant, Gianluca Esteves, Dom Garcia, Brennan Kapcheck, Aaron Maguyon and Adam Peck) have two points respectively. The Rebels are one for six on the power play (17%). Saturday night’s power play goal was the first power play goal allowed by the Titans during the playoffs. Mareks Mitens has played in both games in the series. He has a 2.00 goals against average and a .894 save percentage.

New Jersey Titans Overview
During the playoffs the Titans have been led by three players with three points each: Jordan Kaplan (3 goals), Todd Goehring (2 goals and 1 assist) and Stromberg (all assists). Kaplan has the most goals with three. Nick Boyagian has two game winning goals for New Jersey. Goehring leads the team in penalty minutes with 25 while Tyler Antonucci has a team best +3 +/- ratio.

The Titans have scored eleven goals in five playoff games which is last of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs. They have allowed eleven goals in the playoffs which is tied for second with the Rebels for least allowed. They have scored 13.3% of the time on the power play and have prevented the opposition from scoring with the extra attacker 95% of the time (third best in the playoffs).

Ferland had a 2.00 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. He has played every minute in the playoffs for the Titans.

Aston Rebels Overview
The Rebels have been led by three players in the playoffs who each have five points: Esteves (2 goals and 3 assists), Jensen Zerban (2 goals and 3 assists) and Kapcheck (1 goal and 4 assists). Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have three goals. Jansons has a +8 +/- ratio during the playoffs while four players each have a team high four penalty minutes.

The Rebels have scored twenty goals in five playoff games (third best of the eight remaining teams). Aston is fourth in the playoffs on the power play converting on 27.8% of their chances while they are seventh of the remaining teams on the penalty kill with preventing the opposition from scoring 68.8% of the time.

Mitens possesses a 2.01 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Manz’s goal gives Rebels 3 – 2 win over Titans and a two-game lead in divisional finals

Dustin Manz’s goal with 9:37 left in the game gave the Aston Rebels a 3 – 2 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans. The victory gives the Rebels’ a two games to none lead in the Robertson Cup’s best-of-five Divisional Final Series. Should they win one more game next weekend the team will advance to the league’s semi-finals beginning on May 11 in Duluth, MN.

This was classic playoff hockey: fast paced, up and down action with both teams having excellent scoring chances countered by excellent goaltending. It was a game with limited penalties and the duration lasted only two hours and six minutes.

Using the same formula as Friday night the Rebels got on the board first very early in the opening period. Gvido Jansons brought the puck out of his own near side boards and passed it up to Andrew Bellant in the neutral zone. Bellant dumped the puck into the Titans zone where it went into their far side corner. Dom Garcia battled for the puck in the corner and passed it up slightly along the boards to Drew Blackmun. Blackmun would skate around the faceoff circle and took a wrist shot that beat New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland short side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 just 1:17 into the game.

Unlike Friday night, however, the Titans would counter roughly four minutes later. As the Titans started to bring the puck out of their zone there was a breakdown in the Rebels forechecking. Anthony Cusanelli would bring the puck out and passed it over to Tiernan Seningen on his right. Seningen would bring the puck up along the near side boards and into the Rebels zone on a two-on-one with Maxim Andreev. Andreev would go around Rebels defenseman Andrew Noel and passed the puck over an outstretched Adam Peck in the slot to Andreev who redirected it passed Mareks Mitens to tie the game at one at 5:04 into the opening period.

With 8:49 remaining in the first, New Jersey’s Tyler Antonucci would be called for slashing to put the Rebels on the power play. After an in-close save by Ferland a Titans defenseman dumped the puck all the way behind the Rebels net where it was brought up by Brennan Kapcheck. As Kapcheck exited his own zone he passed the puck up to Jensen Zerban As Zerban entered the Titans zone he passed it to Dom Garcia on his left. Garcia would make a reverse play and send the puck back to Kapcheck at the near side point. Kapcheck would pass it over to Gvido Jansons at the top of the point and he took a blast that beat Ferland short side to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 lead with 7:40 left in the period. It was Jansons’ third goal of the playoffs – all coming on the power play. It also happened to be the very first power play goal that New Jersey has allowed during the playoffs.

Just as the second period hit the midway point, Cusanelli would bring the puck up along his far side points into the Rebels zone on a three-on-three. As Cusanelli skated to the top of the faceoff circle he left a drop pass to Tyler Antonucci. Antonucci simply shot the puck on net but it was redirected by Andreev pasted Mitens to tie the game at two.

While the fans from both teams started to feel the anxiety of the tight play as the game headed to the middle of the third period, it was the Rebels second youngest player who would change its outcome.

As the Rebels dumped the puck into the Titans far side corner Peck went to dig it out and pass it up slightly to Ryan Patrick. Patrick would push the puck back to Manz who sent it back to Kapcheck at the point. Kapcheck took a shot on net that was blocked out in front by a Titans’ defenseman but the puck came out to Manz at the top of the slot. Manz would skate to his left and take a backhand shot that went passed Ferland up high to give the Rebels a 3 – 2 lead. It was the Vanderbilt, MI native’s second goal of the playoffs.

Mitens stopped 18 of 20 shots while Ferland turned aside 23 of 26. Click here for the box score.

With the win the Rebels are one victory away from advancing to their second straight league semi-finals. However, the series now shifts back to New Jersey next weekend where the Rebels only won two out of six games during the regular season. Game three is slated for Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World.

Weekend Preview: 4/28 – 4/29. Divisional Finals begin at home against Titans

The North American Hockey League’s Divisional Final series begins this weekend pitting the East Division’s number one seed Aston Rebels against the number three seed New Jersey Titans. The winner of this best-of-five series will advance to the League’s Robertson Cup semi-finals which begins on Thursday, May 11 in Duluth, MN. Each game this weekend will be played at IceWorks.

Both teams swept their respective series three games to none to advance to this round: the Rebels defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights while the Titans defeated the number two seed Johnstown Tomahawks.

Rebels vs. Titans regular season overview
The Rebels defeated the Titans seven out of twelve times this season, with five of the wins coming on home ice while four of the Rebels’ wins were shutouts (2 home and 2 away). The last time these two teams played each other was on April 5 at Middletown’s Ice World when the Rebels blanked the Titans 5 – 0. Jack Leavy turned aside all 27 shots he faced for his sixth shutout on the season. Andrew Hart had two goals.

The Rebels outscored the Titans by the score of 35 to 23 during the twelve games. Aston went 10 for 45 (22%) on the power play during the season against New Jersey while the Titans went 7 for 43 (16%). The Titans were led by Dylan Healy’s seven points (4 goals and 3 assists) while Danny Eruzione (1 goal and 5 assists) and Jordan Kaplan (3 goals and 3 assists) each had six points. Healy scored the most goals against the Rebels with six. New Jersey’s goaltenders have a combined 2.92 goals against average and a .892 save percentage. Brandon Perrone has played in six of the twelve games carrying a 2.33 goals against average and a .907 save percentage against the Rebels. Ryan Ferland has played in the three most recent games against Aston. He has a 2.67 goals against average and a .897 save percentage.

Andrew Bellant (4 goals and 5 assists), Gianluca Esteves (3 goals and 6 assists) and Aaron Maguyon (2 goals and 7 assists) each had nine goals against the Titans. Bellant and Brennan Kapcheck had four goals against New Jersey respectively. Mareks Mitens and Leavy had a combined 1.92 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Each had two shutouts. Mitens has appeared in eight of the games posting a 1,85 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.

Titans Playoff Overview
The Titans have scored seven goals (tied for eleventh in the post season) and have allowed three (least amount in the league) during the playoffs. Todd Goehring leads the team in points with three (2 goals and 1 assist). He is followed by Nick Boyagian (2 goals and 0 assists), Jordan Kaplan (2 goals and 0 assists) and Anthony Cusanelli (1 goal and 1 assist) two points respectively. Goehring, Boyagian and Kaplan have six out of the seven Titans goals in the playoffs.

Boyagian has two of the Titans game winning goals while Goehring leads the team in penalty minutes with 25. Three players have a +3+/- ratio. New Jersey is ranked twelfth on the power play (8.3%) and tied for first for the least amount of goals allowed shorthanded. They have not given up a power play goal during the playoffs.

Ferland leads all NAHL goalies in the playoffs with a .99 goals against average. He is second in the league with a .962 save percentage. He has one shutout.

Rebels Playoff Overview
The Rebels have scored twelve goals (fifth best in the playoffs) and have allowed seven (tied for fifth) in three playoff games. Jensen Zerban leads the team in total points with five (2 goals and 3 assists). Five different players have three points each. Zerban, Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have two goals.

Esteves, Jansons and Zerban each have a game winning goal. Dustin Manz and Auggie Moore lead the team in penalty minutes with four respectively. Zerban has a +5 +/- ratio. The Rebels are ranked third on the power play with a 33% conversion ratio while they are thirteenth in which they have prevented the opposition from scoring 69.2% of the time.

Mitens and Leavy have a combined 2.33 goals against average and a .891 save percentage.

Divisional Final Series Schedule
Game 1: Friday, April 28 at 7:00pm at IceWorks
Game 2: Saturday, April 29 at 7:00pm at IceWorks
Game 3: Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World
Game 4: Saturday, May 6 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World (if necessary)
Game 5: Sunday, May 7 at 7:00pm at IceWorks (if necessary)

Rebels score five goals in third to sweep Knights and advance to divisional final series

The Aston Rebels overcame a two-goal deficit with 18 minutes remaining in the third period and scored five goals to give them a 7 – 5 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to sweep the best-of-five divisional semi-final series three games to none.  The win moves the Rebels into the divisional final series against the New Jersey Titans.

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly! However, good teams have to go through adversity and find ways to win and that is exactly what the Rebels did to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

The Knights entered the game having gone 0 for 8 on the power play but that would dramatically change this game. Andrew Noel was called for tripping with 6:48 into the opening period to give WBS the extra attacker. Paul Cimilluca took a shot from the near side point that was blocked in front of the crease but the puck came back out to the far side point to Joey Verkerke. Verkerke took a shot that was going wide of the net but Paul Maust was standing back door and the puck went off of Maust’s shin pads and bounced past Rebels goalie Mareks Mitens to give the Knights a 1 – 0 lead with 8:43 into the first period.

With 2:06 remaining in the opening period, the Knights dumped the puck deep inside the Rebels zone. Michael Underwood would retrieve the puck and bring it up the ice. As he skated towards his own blueline he was taken down by a Knights forward. While he was falling, Underwood passed the puck to Dustin Manz on his left. Manz would cut across center ice and take a wrist shot at the top of the far side faceoff circle and beat Knights’ goalie Grant Valentine high and long side to tie the game at one.

Having only taken four shots on goal in the first period, the Knights wanted to make the most of their shots in the second period. And they did. Carter Woolley was called for tripping fifty seconds into the middle stanza putting the Knights on another power play.  As the puck came loose from players battling in the Rebels near side corner, it was picked up by Maust along the boards. Maust sent a pass back to the point to Cimilluca. The Knights’ defenseman took a shot that was redirected by Mike Gelatt at the top of the crease and the puck went through Mitens five-hole and slowly crossed the goal line to give the Knights a 2 – 1 lead with 2:09 into the second period.

After an icing call was waived off in the Rebels zone, Curtis Carlson intercepted a Brennan Kapcheck pass at the far side blueline. Carlson took a shot that went wide of the net but Cimilluca picked it up at the side of the net. Cimilluca passed the puck to Gelatt at the top of the slot and he took a shot that beat Mitens to give the Knights a 3 – 1 just 8:19 into the middle period.

Head coach Joe Coombs then replaced Mitens with Jack Leavy.

Despite being down by two goals, the Rebels started to get some life in them in the second period. However, Valentine had to make several grade A saves to keep the visitors off the board. With time running out in the period, the Rebels would cut the deficit by one.

After another nice save by Valentine, the rebound came out and was cleared to the Rebels blueline where is was picked up by Underwood. Underwood would pass it up to Drew Blackmun at center ice. Blackmun would pass the puck over to Dom Garcia on his right. Garcia would bring the puck into the Knights zone along the near side boards. Garcia would cut to his left and took a shot that was saved by Valentine but Blackmun picked up the rebound and put it past the fallen Knights’ netminder to make it a 3 – 2 game with forty-one second left in the second.

Kapcheck would start the third period off by taking a holding penalty just forty-two seconds into the final period. The Knights would capitalize on it by scoring their third power play goal of the game. While a scrum was taking place in the Rebels far side corner, the puck would come out to Maust who passed it back to the point to Cimilluca. Cimillica took a shot that was redirected by Tim Gelatt in the slot passed Leavy to make a 4 – 2 game just 2:09 into the final period.

Realizing that there was a strong possibility that they would have to travel back up the Pennsylvania turnpike to play the Knights again on Saturday night, the Rebels suddenly redirected their course and returned to playing Rebels hockey. And the comeback began with the team’s two Gino’s.

Gvido Jansons would start the play by picking up a Knights’ clearing pass. He passed the puck over to his right to Kapcheck. Kapcheck head manned the puck to a streaking Gianluca Esteves along the far side boards. He entered the Knights zone on a two-on-one with Evgeny Yakovev. Esteves would send a back-door pass to Yakovlev who redirected the puck behind Valentine to make it a 4 – 3 game with thirteen minutes left in the game.

Having a 4 – 3 lead with 10:25 left in the period, the Knights’ Mike Gelatt was called for hooking to give the Rebels the extra attacker. Kapcheck started the play at the top of the point and passed the puck to Jensen Zerban on his left. The speedy forward would pass the puck down low to Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon sent a pass across the goalmouth to Jansons who took a one-timer that was stopped by Valentine but the rebound came right back out to Jansons who put it top shelf passed Valentine to tie the game at four with eleven minutes remaining in the game.

The Rebels would take their first lead of the game with 5:26 left. After Zerban won the draw at the Knights’ near side faceoff circle, the puck would be picked up by Andrew Bellant. Bellant would cut across the goalmouth and take a turnaround shot that beat Valentine over the shoulder to make it a 5 – 4 game.

Carlson then was called for tripping with 4:26 left in the third putting the Rebels on the power play. Zerban would win another draw deep inside the Knights’ near side faceoff circle. The puck would come back to the point to Kapcheck. Kapcheck would play give-and-go with Auggie Moore. Once Kapcheck received the puck back from Moore he passed it over to his right to Jansons who took a one-timer and blew it by Valentine to make it a 6 – 4 game with 4:17 left in the game.

But the game wasn’t over. Manz would be called for elbowing with 2:51 remaining in the game. The Knights’ pulled Valentine to make it 6 on 4. After a shot from the nearside faceoff circle went through the Rebels goalmouth the puck was picked up by Matt Kidney in the corner. Kidney send a pass back to the far side point to Jimmy Elsner. Elsner took a shot that was redirected by Mike Gelatt to make it a 6 – 5 game 1:49 remaining. It was the Knights fourth powerplay goal on the night.

Having pulled the goalie for the extra attacker the Knights applied strong pressure in the Rebels zone. After a clearing the puck the Knights went to regroup and brought the puck back into the offensive zone. Kapcheck stripped the Knights’ player of the puck and sent it into the empty net to make it a 7 – 5 game.

Mitens and Leavy combined to make 16 saves on 21 shots while Valentine turned aside 19 of 25 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels will open the divisional finals against the New Jersey Titans on Friday, April 28 at 7:00pm for game one of the best-of-five series. The Titans defeated the Johnstown Tomahawks by the score of 3 – 2 in overtime to sweep their best-of-five series.

The divisional final series schedule series will be announced very early in the week.

Weekend Preview: 4/21 – 4/22. Divisional Semi-Finals shift to WBS. Rebels need one win to advance

The scene shifts this weekend for the North American Hockey League’s East Division semi-final series between the Aston Rebels and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The Rebels, who have a 2 – 0 lead in the best of five series, will travel to play the Knights Friday at 7:30pm and possibly on Saturday at 7:30pm. If the Rebels win Friday night the series will be over. If they lose, the series will go to a game four on Saturday. Should the Rebels lose both games in Wilkes-Barre the deciding game in the series will be played on Monday, April 24 at 7:00pm at IceWorks. The winner of this series will advance to the divisional finals against the winner of the Johnstown Tomahawks and New Jersey Titans, which the Titans have a 2 – 0 lead as well.

Both games have been extremely close, in terms of scoring (the Rebels have outscored the Knights 5 – 2) and play. They have been up and down games while the Rebels’ Mareks Mitens and the Knights’ Grant Valentine have played exceptionally well in the nets to keep their respective team competitive.

The Rebels won the first game in the series by the score of 3 – 1 and then won game two 2 – 1. “The Knights have played very well” stated Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “WBS’ compete level has been outstanding! We’ve played okay in this series. We played well in the first game but not in the second. We were outplayed in the second game but we were fortunate enough to win it. We cannot afford any mistakes up there or they will make us pay for it. WBS is a very good team and have an excellent coaching staff. We are fighting for our lives” concluded Coombs.

The Knights’ goals have been scored by Curtis Carlson and Joe Schuler. Six different Knights (including Carlson and Schuler) have one point. WBS is 0 – 8 on the power play. Mike Gelatt leads the team in penalty minutes with four while five different players have a +1 +/- ratio. Valentine has a 2.50 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.

Aston’s goals have been scored by Jensen Zerban (2), Drew Blackmun, Gianluca Esteves and Andrew Hart. Blackmun, Hart and Zerban each have two points. The Rebels are 2 for 7 (29%) on the power play. Auggie Moore has the most penalty minutes on the team with four. Carter Woolley, Hart and Zerban each have a +3 +/- ratio. Mitens has a 1.00 goals against average and a .953 save percentage.

If the Rebels advance to the divisional finals, the series will begin on Friday, April 28th and Saturday, April 29th – both games at IceWorks. The Rebels have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Rebels take game one of divisional semi-finals as Zerban scores two goals

The Aston Rebels took game one of the best-of-five divisional semi-final series by a score of 3 – 1 over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights behind two goals from Air Force Academy commit Jensen Zerban.

The first period was going very fast with each team playing tight checking and forcing the other to take perimeter shots. Then with 2:55 remaining Elijah Latimer was called for interference putting the Rebels on the power play. With time running down with the extra attacker, Ryan Solomon brought the puck out from deep inside his own zone. He passed it up to his right to Drew Blackmun. As Blackmun skated through the neutral zone he passed to it Gianluca Esteves along the far side boards. As Esteves entered the zone, he made a cut-back move at the top of the faceoff circle and passed the puck down low to Blackmun in the corner. Blackmun brought the puck slightly up the boards and cut across the faceoff circle and took a wrist shot that beat Knights’ goalie Grant Valentine high, short side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead with 1:22 remaining in the opening period.

The Knights would tie the game at 7:17 into the second period. With the Rebels applying pressure in the Knights Zone, Andrew Bellant had the puck in the far side corner and passed it back to the point to Gvido Jansons. Jansons went to take a shot but essentially whiffed on it and the puck went to Matt Kidney who passed it up to Curtis Carleson. Carleson skated with a burst of speed through center ice and into the Rebels zone. He skated to his right to the top of the far side faceoff circle and took a shot that beat Mareks Mitens high, short side to make it a 1 – 1 game.

Zerban then would score his first of two goals.

Andrew Hart and Carter Woolley were battling for the puck with two Knights in the far side corner. Woolley would come out with it and then he passed it back to Hart. As Woolley skated towards the slot, Hart passed the puck up the boards to Zerban. Zerban then passed it to Woolley who made a nice touch-pass back to Zerban at the top of the crease and Zerban beat Valentine to make it a 2 – 1 game 5:51 remaining in the middle stanza.

The third period was extremely tight with limited shots but Mitens and Valentine had to make key saves to keep the other team from scoring. With a minute left in the game the Knights set up behind their own goal. As the Knights’ defender brought the puck into the neutral zone he was stripped of the puck by Zerban. Zerban raced into the Knights zone with a defender on him. As he got to the top of the crease Valentine attempted to poke check the puck. Before he could, Zerban put the puck behind him to make it a 3 – 1 game.

Both goaltenders played well. Mitens turned aside 22 of 23 shots by Valentine stopped 23 of 26. Click here for the box score.

The second game of the divisional semi-final series between these two teams will be at tonight at 7pm at IceWorks.