Tag Archives: Evgeny Yakovlev

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’ Forward Yakovlev Makes NCAA Commitment to University of Wisconsin Superior

The Rebels, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Evgeny Yakovlev has committed to play NCAA Division III Ice Hockey for the University of Wisconsin Superior Yellowjackets, who play in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). His commitment begins in September.

Yakovlev, 20, had 38 points (11 goals and 27 assists) in 55 games during the regular season. He had eight points (5 goals and 3 assists) in eleven playoff games, including three game winning goals. His game winning goal in overtime in game three of the Robertson Cup semi-finals sent the team to the National Championship game. He had a total of 67 points during his two-year tenure with the Rebels, which is third highest in the team’s history. The Belgorod, Russia native played in two games in the NAHL’s Top Prospect Tournament back in February.

“I’m very excited to go UW Superior” stated Yakovlev. “I would like to thank my family, friends and teammates for supporting me through the years and helping me get to this point” concluded Yakovlev.

“I’m so excited for Yak” said Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “He was instrumental in our back-to-back division championships. He is a very good hockey player but even better person. I know he will succeed in no matter what he does” stated Coombs.

The University of Wisconsin Superior is coached by Rich McKenna. This past season the Yellow Jackets had an overall 8-19-2 record.

Yakovlev’s goal in OT sends Rebels to Robertson Cup Finals

Evgeny Yakovlev scored with 2:43 left in overtime to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 win over the Aberdeen Wings and send the Rebels to the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup finals tomorrow against the Lone Star Brahmas. It will be the first time in the team’s young history that it has reached the National Championship game.

After a scoreless first period that produced a total of ten shots, the Wings got on the board first at the 2:52 mark of the second period. After a faceoff outside the Wings zone, an Aberdeen defenseman dumped the puck into the Rebels zone. The puck went around the net and up the far side boards where a battle ensued. Carson Dimoff would get the puck and pass it down to Kevin Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would come behind the Rebels net on a wrap around and beat Mareks Mitens up high to give the Wings a 1 – 0 lead. It was Fitzgerald’s fifth goal of the playoffs.

Despite starting the third period down by one and their season on the line, the Rebels came out hungry. The Rebels would tie it just fifty-three seconds in the final period on Gianluca Esteves’ fifth goal of the playoffs. Brennan Kapcheck would dump the puck into the Wings zone where Esteves would retrieve it behind Aberdeen’s net. He passed it up to the near side faceoff circle to Aaron Maguyon who passed it back to Ryan Solomon.  Maguyon would make a cross-ice pass back to Michael Underwood. Underwood would take a shot that was redirected by Esteves past Wings goalie Forbes Ploszaj to make it a 1 to 1 game.

The Rebels would then start to control the flow of the game. They came close to adding a second goal but Ploszaj had to make several key saves to keep the game tied and send it into overtime for the second straight day.

While the Wings had some changes in the third that were thwarted by Mitens, the Rebels dominated the overtime. Then Kapcheck would start the play at his own goal line. He passed the puck up along the near side boards to Esteves who brought the puck into the Wings zone. Esteves made a drop pass back to Maguyon. The Galloway, NJ native passed it back to a trailing Yakovlev. Yakovlev would make a cross-ice pass back to Gvido Jansons at the point. Jansons would pass it over to Solomon. Solomon would take a shot that was saved by Ploszaj but the deep rebound came out to Yakovlev who put it into an open net to give the Rebels a two-games to one series win over the Wings.

Mitens turned aside 23 of 24 shots while Ploszaj stopped 33 of 35 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels will now face the Lone Star Brahmas tomorrow at 2:00pm ET in a winner take all for the NAHL’s Robertson Cup.

Photo Credit: The Rebels would like to thank John Elftmann for providing photos of today’s game.

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.

Titans defeat Rebels 3 – 2 in overtime to force game 5

Titans’ defenseman Ryan Wheeler scored with 3:27 remaining in overtime to give New Jersey a 3 – 2 victory over the visiting Aston Rebels to force a game five in this best-of-five divisional finals. The fifth and deciding game will be played tonight at 7:00pm at IceWorks.

The Rebels opened the scoring with 9:38 remaining in the first period. A Titans’ defenseman took a shot from the point that was saved by Rebels goaltender Jacky Leavy. The puck came off Leavy’s stick directly to Ryan Solomon who sent a lead pass up to Andrew Bellant at center ice. Bellant skated in on a breakaway against New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland. Bellant took a wrist shot that trickled off Ferland’s blocker and into the net to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead. It was Bellant’s third goal on the playoffs.

The Titans would tie the game at 9:15 into the second period. After a save by Ferland the rebound came out to Tyler Antonucci at the top of his own near side faceoff circle. Antonucci head manned the puck to Todd Goehring who brought it through the neutral zone. As Goehring entered the Rebels zone he passed the puck to Jordan Kaplan on his left. Kaplan took a wrist shot at the far side faceoff circle and beat Leavy long side to make it a 1 – 1 game.

The Rebels would go back on top with 5:52 into the third. Gianluca Esteves picked up a deep rebound in his own near side zone off of a save by Leavy. Esteves brought the puck up ice and passed it over to Evgeny Yakovlev on his right. Yakovlev entered the zone and took a shot that went wide but the rebound came out to Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon passed the puck to Esteves on his right and Esteves slid the puck passed Ferland to make it a 2 – 1 game.

Three minutes later New Jersey would tie it. Dylan Healey brought the puck up along the near side boards after picking it up from a scrum behind the net. He passed it back downlow to Max Andreev. Andreev sent a pass back to the point to Ryan Wheeler, who took a slapshot that the redirected by Goehring out front past Leavy to make it a 2 – 2 game with 10:57 left in the third.

With time winding down in the first overtime Wheeler would score his first goal of the playoffs. After Kolby Vegara retrieved the puck in his own zone he passed it up along the far side boards to Ryan Patrick. As Patrick went to dump the puck to make a line change it was picked up by William Riedell at the top of his own faceoff circle. Riedell sent a lead pass up to Wheeler at the Rebels blueline. Wheeler cut across and took a long shot that beat Leavy short side to give the Titans a 3 -2 win and force a fifth and deciding game.

Leavy stopped 23 of 26 shots while Ferland turned aside 41 of 43 shots. Click here for the box score.

Rebels win 5 – 2 to take game one of divisional finals

The Aston Rebels used a balanced scoring attack to earn a 5 – 2 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans to take a one game to none lead in this best-of-five divisional final series.

The Rebels completely dominated the first period, in terms of shots on goal (11 – 2) and, most importantly, on the score board.

The East Division champions got on the board early with Adam Peck scoring his first goal of the playoffs just two minutes into the game. All-NAHL First Team defenseman Brennan Kapcheck intercepted a Titans’ outlet pass along the far side boards and carried the puck into the New Jersey zone. As Kapcheck brought the puck deep in the zone he threw it towards the net where it was tipped out in front by Ryan Patrick. Kapcheck continued to circle behind the Titans net and picked up the loose puck. As he skated back to the top of the near side point he took a shot that was saved by New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland but Peck picked up the rebound and put it behind Ferland to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead.

The Rebels then would take a 2 – 0 at the 6:04 mark of the opening period. Gianluca Esteves brought the puck out behind his own net and started to skate up towards center ice. Esteves head manned the puck to Kolby Vegara who carried the puck into the Titans zone on a three on two. As Vegara entered the offensive zone he passed the puck to his left to Evgeny Yakovlev at the top of the near side faceoff circle. The Belgorod, Russian native took a snap shot that was saved by Ferland but Aaron Maguyon was left all alone in the slot and tapped in the rebound past Ferland for his first goal of the playoffs.

The Rebels would make it 3 – 0 just thirteen seconds into the second period. Esteves would win the draw at the Titans far side faceoff circle. The puck was picked up by Maguyon at the boards and he made a drop back to Esteves. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native circled behind the Titans net and passed it out front to Yakovlev who tipped it passed Ferland to give the Rebels a three-goal lead.

But you can never underestimate the Titans. They are a very fast and well coached team and don’t give up. And they would get back into the game by playing gritty Titan hockey.

New Jersey’s Ryan Wheeler and the Rebels Andrew Bellant were called for coincidental penalties but the Titans would get the extra attacker when Drew Blackmun was assessed a slashing penalty with almost nine minutes left in the second period to put New Jersey on the power play. With time winding down with the man advantage, Danny Eruzione had the puck in the Rebels far side corner. He passed it back to the point to Hunter Alden who passed it over to his left to Oskar Stromberg. Stromberg took a one-timer that was redirected out front by Gordie Helmuth past Mareks Mitens to make it a 3 – 1 game with 7:23 left in the middle stanza. It was only the Titans six shot on goal in the game.

New Jersey would cut the deficit to one with 2:31 left in the period. After the puck was taken off of Esteves’ stick, it went to Stromberg at the top of his far side faceoff circle. The Rebels got caught on a bad line change and Stromberg passed it up to Dylan Healey who entered the Aston zone on a two on one with Jordan Kaplan. As Healey got to the faceoff circle he passed the puck to Kaplan on his left. Kaplan took a shot that went through Mitens five hole to make it a 3 – 2.

The third period was very fast paced and up and down play. With 2:37 left in the game Esteves would give the Rebels a 4 – 2 lead.  With New Jersey’s Zach Parrott looking to breakout of his own zone he tried to passed it one of his teammates but it was intercepted by Bellant at the blueline. Bellant immediately took a shot that was saved by Ferland but the deep rebound came right out to the trailing Esteves who beat Ferland to give the Rebels a two-goal lead.

Bellant would score an empty net goal with four second remaining to give the Rebels a 5 – 2 win.

Mitens would turn aside 16 of 18 shots while Ferland stopped 22 of 26 shots. Click here for the box score.

Game two of this best-of-five series is tonight at 7:00pm at IceWorks.

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: 4/14 – 4/15; Divisional Semi-Finals begin against WBS Knights

Aston Rebels vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Overview
The first round of the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup playoffs begins this weekend with the divisional semi-final series pitting the number one seed Aston Rebels against the number four seed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. It will be a best of five series with the first two games being played at IceWorks on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15. The series then will move to the Revolution Ice Centre for games three (Friday, April 21) and four (Saturday, April 22 – if necessary). A game five would be played at IceWorks on Monday, April 24 if needed.

This is the second straight year these two teams have met in the divisional semi-final series. Last year the Rebels swept the Knights 3 – 0. The Rebels won the first game 3 – 2 and won game two by the same score. However, how the Rebels won it was a different story. The Rebels were down 2 – 0 going into the third period and then promptly scored three goals in two minutes and nineteen seconds to take the lead and control of the game. The Rebels would win game three by the score of 6 – 1.

This year during the regular season the Rebels defeated the Knights nine out of twelve times, although the Knights have beating the Rebels two out of the last three games. The last time these two teams played each other was on March 10 when the Knights defeated the Rebels 3 – 2 in a shootout. The Rebels have outscored the Knights 48 to 24.

Curtis Carlson has scored the most points against the Rebels this season with seven (4 goals and 3 assists). Four players (Khristian Acosta, Sam Antonitsch, Dorian Dawson and Matt Kidney) have six points respectively against the Rebels. Acosta and Carlson each have scored four goals against Aston. WBS is 6 for 38 (16%) on the power play. The Knights’ goaltenders have a combined 3.75 goals against average and .876 save percentage. Grant Valentine has played in eight of the twelve games against the Rebels. He has a 3.25 goals against average and .878 save percentage with no shutouts.

Gvido Jansons has the most points against the Knights this year with thirteen (8 goals and 5 assists). Three other Rebels (Drew Blackmun, Brennan Kapcheck and Evgeny Yakovlev) each have eleven points respectively against them. Jansons has scored the most goals with eight. The Rebels are 8 for 41 (20%) on the power play. Rebels goalies’ Mareks Mitens and Jack Leavy have a combined 1.66 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. Mitens has played in nine of the games. He has a 1.22 goals against and .949 save percentage with three shutouts.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Regular Season Overview
The Knights finished the season in fourth place in the East Division with a 30-25-1-4 record for 65 points, thirty behind the Rebels.  WBS is coming off of an 8 – 3 win over the New Jersey Titans.  The Knights are going into the playoffs having won seven out of their last ten games. The Knights scored 193 goals (sixth most in the league) and allowed 190 (thirteenth in the league) through 60 games.

Kidney was the Knights leading scorer with forty-four points (20 goals and 24 assists). Paul Maust had 43 points (15 goals and 28 assists) while Antonitsch had 41 points (18 goals and 23 assists). Kidney had the most goals on the team with twenty. Dawson led the Knights defensemen with 34 points (9 goals and 25 assists) while Kidney had four game winning goals.

WBS was fourteenth in the league on the power play with a 18.3% conversion ratio while they were ranked seventh in the league on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 83.64% of the time. Maust led the team in penalty minutes 118 and he had the team’s best +/- ratio of +18.

The Knights goaltending had a combine 2.97 goals against average and a .906 save percentage with five shutouts. Valentine had a 2.80 goals against and a .910 save percentage with three shutouts.

Aston Rebels Regular Season Overview
The Rebels had a 46-11-2-1 record for 95 points which was best in the league. They won the league’s regular season and East Division championships. They are coming of a 2 – 0 win over the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Rebels go into the playoffs having won six out of their last ten games. They scored 214 goals (fourth best in the league) and allowed only 106 goals (least amount in the NAHL) through 60 games.

The Rebels were led by Andrew Bellant’s 55 points (27 goals and 28 assists). He was followed by Dom Garcia’s 47 points (14 goals and 33 assists) and Jansons’ 46 points (19 goals and 27 assists). Bellant also led the team in goals with 27 and game winning goals with seven. Jansons also led the team’s defensemen with 46 points.

The Rebels were ranked fourth in the league on the power play with a 21.4% conversion ratio while they were ranked first in the league on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 86.3% of the time. Bellant led the team with 156 penalty minutes. Ryan Solomon had the team’s best +/- ratio of +39.

The goaltending tandem of Mitens (1.63 GAA and .925 SV%) and Jack Leavy (1.82 GAA and .921 SV%) had a combined 1.75 goals against average and a .923 save percentage with seventeen shutouts.

Rebels defeat Titans 5 – 0 to clinch NAHL’s regular season championship

Andrew Hart scored two goals and Jack Leavy recorded his sixth shutout as the visiting Aston Rebels defeated the New Jersey Titans last night 5 – 0. The win gave the Rebels their 45th victory on the season and they clinched the North American Hockey League’s regular season championship.

The game, unfortunately, started out as an omen for the Titans. Fifty-three seconds into it a Titans’ defender inadvertently checked Rebels forward Andrew Bellant into his own goalie Brandon Perrone and knocked him down. Perrone was attended to by trainers from both teams and needed to be removed from the game and never returned to the bench. He was replaced by Ryan Ferland.

Bellant would score the ultimate game winning goal at the 5:37 mark of the first period. Titans forward Danny Eruzione was called for cross-checking at 3:48 into the game putting the Rebels on the power play. With time winding down with the extra attacker, New Jersey dumped the puck deep inside the Rebels zone where it was picked up by Michael Underwood. Underwood sent an outlet pass up to Bellant. As Bellant skated into the neutral he passed the puck to his left to Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon brought the puck into the Titans zone along the far side boards and cut across the goal mouth. He took a shot that was saved by Ferland but the deep rebound came out to Bellant who wristed the puck past the Titans netminder for his twenty seventh goal on the season.

The Rebels would take at 2 – 0 with 5:22 remaining in the first period. Kolby Vergara was at the top of his own near side faceoff circle and sent a soft clearing pass into the Titans zone. The puck was retrieved by a Titans defender but he was pressured by Evgeny Yakovlev. Yakovlev stripped the defender of the puck and passed it to Auggie Moore in the slot who took a shot that beat Ferland for his seventh goal on the season.

A minute and eleven seconds later Hart would score his first goal of the game. New Jersey dumped the puck into the Rebels zone for a line change and it was picked up by Underwood. Underwood would then pass the puck to Ryan Solomon who brought it up the far side boards. As Solomon entered the Titans zone he passed the puck to his right to Jensen Zerban. Zerban took a wrist shot in the slot that was saved by Ferland but the rebound came out to Hart who put it into the Titans net to make it a 3 – 0 game with 4:41 remaining in the opening period.

After a scoreless second period Rebels’ Rookie of the Year award winner Maguyon would make it a 4 – 0 game at 6:52 into the final period.  Zach Parrott brought the puck out of his own zone but was pressured at center ice by birthday boy Ryan Patrick. Patrick knocked the puck off of Parrott’s stick and it went to Solomon. Solomon sent the puck into the Titans zone where Ferland went to play it but Maguyon reach the puck first and skated around the out-of-position Titans goaltender and he tucked it into an open net for his eleventh goal on the season.

Hart would finish the scoring less than a minute later. Titans defender Ryan Wheeler brought the puck into the neutral zone but he was hit by Hart. Hart brought the puck into the New Jersey zone and passed to his left to a breaking Carter Woolley down the far side boards. As Woolley got to the middle of the faceoff circle he passed the puck to Hart in the slot and redirected it by Ferland to make it 5 – 0 with 12:11 remaining for his tenth goal on the season.

Leavy turned aside all 27 shots he faced. Leavy and goalie partner Mareks Mitens have a combined seventeen shutouts on the season. The Titans goalies stopped 22 of 27 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels have two games remaining in the regular season. They will travel to Johnstown to play the Titans and then return home to open the Robertson Cup’s divisional semi-final series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights on Friday, April 14.