Weekend preview: 4/26 – 4/28; Divisional finals begin at home against Knights

Weekend preview: 4/26 – 4/28; Divisional finals begin at home against Knights

The North American Hockey League’s Divisional Final series begins this weekend pitting the East Division’s number one seed Philadelphia Rebels against the number three seed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The winner of this best-of-five series will advance to the League’s Robertson Cup tournament which will be held at the Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minnesota from May 11-14, 2018.

Game one will be played tonight and game two will be played on Saturday, April 28. Both have a start time of 7:05pm and will be played at the IceWorks Skating Complex in Aston, PA. Game three will be played on Monday, April 30 at 5:00pm at the Revolution Ice Centre. Game four, if necessary, will be played on Thursday, May 3 at 6:00pm at the Revolution Ice Centre. Game five, if necessary, will be play at IceWorks on Friday, May 4 at 7:05pm.

Both teams won their respective divisional semi-final series three games to two. The Rebels beat the Northeast Generals while the Knights defeated the New Jersey Titans.

While this will be the third straight year that the Rebels have advanced to the divisional finals, this will be the first time for the Knights. The teams have faced each other in the divisional semi-finals the past two years with the Rebels sweeping the Knights both series.

Rebels vs. Knights regular season overview
The two teams played each other twelve times during the regular season with the Rebels winning eight of them, and they outscored the Knights by a combined score of 46 to 27. All four of the Rebels losses were away games. The last time these two teams met was back on Wednesday, April 4 at the Class of 1923 Arena with the Rebels winning 7 – 1.

Tyrone Bronte (5 goals and 4 assists) and Matt Kidney (2 goals and 7 assists) each had nine points against the Rebels during the regular season. Bronte and Mike Gelatt scored five goals respectively against Philadelphia. The Knights were 5 for 39 (13%) on the powerplay. WBS netminders Christian Stoever and David Tomeo had a combined 3.83 goals against average and .894 save percentage with no shutouts against the Rebels.

Jensen Zerban led all Rebels with fifteen points (6 goals and 9 assists) against the Knights. He was followed by Ryan Patricks’ thirteen points (5 goals and 8 assists) and Alex Frye’s ten points (3 goals and 7 assists). Zerban scored the most goals against the Knights with six. The Rebels went 15 for 43 (35%) on the powerplay. Goaltenders Eli Billing and Ryan Keane had a combined 2.08 goals against average and .923 save percentage with two shutouts (both Keane). The two shutouts took place consecutively on March 9 and 10. Keane played in nine of the twelve games and possessed a 1.55 goals against average and .941 save percentage against the Knights.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Overview
Down 2 – 1 in the series against the Titans, the Knights rallied to win game four 1 – 0 on home ice and then game five 5 – 2 at Middletown’s Ice World to oust New Jersey. During the series WBS was led by Jack Olmstead’s five points (all assists). Gabe Temple had four points (3 goals and one assist). Temple led all Knights’ goal scorers with three. WBS had six players with three points respectively. Forward Adrian Danchenko has the most penalty minutes on the team in five playoff games with twelve.  Tomas Koblizek has the best +/- on the team with a +5.

The Knights have scored the most goals among all NAHL playoff teams with sixteen. They also have allowed twelve goals. The Knights are ranked eleventh in the league during the playoffs on the powerplay having converted on 11.1% of their chances while they are ranked twelfth among playoff teams on the penalty kill having prevented the opposition from scoring 81.8% of the time.

Stoever and Tomeo have a combined 2.41 goals against average and .943 save percentage with one shutout (Stoever). Stoever has a 3 – 1 record with a 1.76 goals against average and .958 save percentage.

Rebels Overview
Similar to the Knights, the Rebels rallied from a two game to one deficit to win game four on Zerban’s goal in triple overtime in Attleboro and then won game five 5 – 0 at IceWorks to advance to the divisional finals.

Brandon Stanley leads the Rebels with six points (3 goals and 3 assists) in five playoff games. He is followed by Zerban’s five points (3 goals and 2 assists). Carson Moniz (1 goal and 3 assists) and Adam Peck (all assists) each have four points. Stanley and Zerban lead the Rebels with three goals apiece. Two of Zerban’s tallies were game winning goals. Stanley also leads the team with ten penalty minutes. Peck has the best +/- with a +5.

The Rebels scored fifteen goals in five games during the first round of the playoffs (only one behind the Knights), and they allowed ten (eight of sixteen teams). Like they did during the regular season, the Rebels lead all playoff teams on the powerplay having converted on 27.3% of their chances. They are seventh among all playoff teams on the penalty kill having prevented the opposition from scoring 88.2% of the time.

Keane has played in every minute of the playoffs. He has a 1.74 goals against average and .932 save percentage with one shutout.