The Rebels top line of Ryan Cusin, Dom Garcia and Michael Merulla has been a force of reckoning throughout the season. Last night the trio worked their magic again as they had a combined eight points to lead the Rebels to a 4 – 1 victory over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The win moved the Rebels to within two points of the first place New Jersey Titans, who were idle last night.
Despite the Rebels controlling almost all of the first period, Knights goalie Andrey Svistunov made some key saves to keep his team in the game. Then with 13:11 into it, Garcia and Cusin set up Michael Merulla who beat Svistunov to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead. It was Merulla’s 24 goal on the season.
The Rebels went ahead for good when, this time, Merulla and Cusin set up Garcia who beat Svistunov for his ninth goal of the year with 4:10 left in the opening period.
With 4:11 into the second period, Knights forward Isaac Cirinna was called for kneeing putting the Rebels on the power play. Sixteen seconds later, Brennan Kapcheck passed the puck down low to Merulla. Merulla made a nice pass out front to Cusin who put the Rebels up 3 – 0. It was Cusin’s eleventh goal of the season as a Rebel.
The Knights didn’t fold as the final period began. Cusin was called for high sticking at 7:05 into the third period. Thirty four seconds later, Dimitriy Zaitsev passed it to Braden Brown who made a nice back door pass to Jacob Hamacher who one-timed it pass Rebels goalie Darion Hanson putting the Knights on the board.
It wasn’t enough for the Knights as Gvido Jansons scored an unassisted empty net goal with four seconds left in the game. The Rebels and Knights played .500 hockey against each other during the regular season (8-8). Svistunov had 28 saves on 31 shots while Hanson made 26 saves on 27 shots. Click here for the box score.
The win moves the Rebels two points within the first place Titans. The two teams will play each other three times in four days beginning on Wednesday.