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.