Best of Five Series Starts Two Games at Home
The real season begins now. The best of five, round one Robertson Cup playoffs pit the regular season East Division champion Aston Rebels (35-21-4) against the fourth place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (22-28-10). Despite the twenty point difference between the two teams during the regular season, do not let the records fool you. The Rebels and Knights had an 8-6-2 record against each other, and the Rebels have not matched up well against WBS. The Rebels won five of eight home games against WBS but only won three games on the road. The Rebels out scored the Knights during the regular season 66 to 42. In fact, six of the Rebels wins against the Knights were won by three goals or more.
The Knights in Review
WBS is led by Jacob Hamacher (40 points), Braden Brown (38 points) and Blake Busch (37 points). Brown is the team’s leading goal scorer with 21. He had a total of nine goals against the Rebels including four back on December 20 in a 5 – 2 win. Hamacher led the team in assists with 28. Only two active Knights have a +1 +/- ratio. Defenseman Austin Redders leads the team in penalty minutes with 149. The Knights goaltending tandem is Andrey Svistunov and Grant Valentine. Svistunov had a 5 – 4 record against the Rebels. He had a .915 save percentage and 3.00 goals against average against the Rebels during the regular season.
The Knights have won four of their last 10 games, including an extremely successful road trip to Alaska earning six points. However, the Knights lost their last two regular season games against Johnstown.
The Rebels in Review
The Rebels are led by Michael Merulla (55 points), Ryan Cusin (50 points as a Rebel) and Dean Balsamo (50 points). Balsamo leads the team in goals with 25 while Kristofers Bindulis and Cusin are tied for the team lead in assists with 36 each. Defenseman Ryan Solomon has a whopping +24 +/- ratio. Andrew Bellant leads the team in penalty minutes with 131. The Rebels goaltending duo of Darion Hanson and Trevor Micucci were fifth in the league with the least amount of goals allowed with only 146. Hanson had a 2 – 4 record against WBS with a .907 save percentage and 2.5 goals against average. Micucci was 6-2-2 against the Knights with a .927 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average.
The Rebels have won seven of their last ten games winning three against New Jersey and Johnstown and one against the Knights. The Rebels last regular season game was a 4 – 3 loss to New Jersey, despite sitting out Balsamo, Cusin and Merulla.
Round 1 Playoff Schedule
Game 1: April 15, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Aston, 7:00 PM
Game 2: April 16, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Aston, 7:00 PM
Game 3: April 22, Aston at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:00 PM
Game 4: April 23, Aston at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:00 PM*
Game 5: April 25, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Aston, 7:00 PM*