After a game tying goal was waived off during Friday night’s loss to the Wilke-Barre/Scranton Knights, the Rebels had a long bus trip home to think about things. Boy did they ever! In the most dominating game in the franchise’s young history, the Rebels completely annihilated the Knights 10-2 scoring six goals in the third period. Despite forward Michael Merulla having a six point game and defenseman Kristofers Bindulis’ hat trick, it was Dean Balsamo’s fight that changed the course of the game.
As the back and forth first period just past the ten minute mark, Merulla took a nice shot that was saved by Knights goaltender Andrey Syvistunov. Balsamo won the ensuing draw and passed it back to Bindulis who beat Syvistunov with a flutter shot putting the Rebels up 1-0 with 9:12 left in the opening period.
The Knights started the second period strong having taken three of the first four shots. But in a nice give and go, Evgeny Yakovlev found Bindulis who took a blazing shot putting the Rebels up 2-0. The Knights, however, did not allow a two goal deficit to deter them. Stephen Kelly passed it to Tanner Bennett who found Matt Beranck and beat Rebels goalie Trevor Micucci cutting the home team’s lead in half.
With less than a minute left in the period, the Knights’ Jimmy Elser tried to take matters into his own hands and went after Balsamo. Balsamo didn’t back down and the two went toe-to-toe which then sent both players to the showers. This was the turning point of the game because six seconds after play resumed, Merulla took a shot that hit the right goal post and went in putting the Rebels up 3-1. After Ryan Cusin won the face off, he passed it to Merulla who found an open Bindulis who one timed it giving him his third goal of the game. The Rebels scored two goals in 15 seconds and sent them into the locker room with a 4-1 lead.
Knights coach Tom Kowal replaced Svistunov with Grant Valentine to open the third. With the Rebels still on the power play, Brennan Kapcheck passed it down low to Cusin who found Merulla in the slot and he beat Valentine.
After the Rebels put things completely out of reach with goals from Cusin, Andrew Bellant and Andrew Zerban, the game got chippy and Austin Swingle put the hammer down by manhandling the Knights Ryan Hutchinson. Click here to view the fight.
With less than three minutes left, Merulla finished his night with a nice short side shot beating Valentine. Syvistunov and Valentine had 32 saves on 41 shots (one Rebels goal was an empty net) while Micucci stopped 27 of 29 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Rebels and Knights are back at it 5:00pm tonight at IceWorks on Skate with the Rebels Night.