Tag Archives: Dom Garcia

Rebels Alumni Update – December 2017

When Andrew Bellant committed to Michigan Tech back on November 30, he became the twenty third member in Rebels history to announce his NCAA commitment while actively playing for the team. With college hockey in full swing we wanted to provide a brief “where are they now” alumni update.

Dean Balsamo
After committing to Bentley University and beginning last season there, “Dino” transferred to Adrian College where he finished out the season having scored eleven points (6 goals and 5 assists) in sixteen games. This season he currently has six points (2 goals and 4 assists) in nine games.

Victor Bergstrom
“Vic” is currently attending Plymouth State University. Last season the defenseman had eight points (2 goals and 6 assists) in seventeen games. This season he currently has thirteen points (5 goals and 8 assists) in twelve games.

Kristofers Bindulis
After playing last season at Lake Superior State University where he had twelve points (1 goal and 11 assists) in twenty-eight games, “Bindy” signed a two-way contract with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League back in March. This season he has played in six games for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and he has eight points (2 goals and 6 assists) in thirteen games for the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League.

Drew Blackmun
“Blacky” is second in all-time games played for the Rebels with 116. He committed to Northeastern University where he currently has played in two games for the Huskies with no points.

Ryan Cusin
After playing at the University of Massachusetts Boston last season where he 40 points (16 goals and 24 assists) in 25 games, “Cuso” transferred to Adrian College this season where he currently has five points (2 goals and 3 assists) in nine games.

Chris DePrez
“Daddy” committed to Marian University where he had one point in four games last year. This season he has two points (1 goal and 1 assist) in ten games.

Gianluca Esteves
After finishing he junior career with the Rebels last year, “Esty” or “Gino” committed to Michigan State where he has a point (assist) in seventeen games this year for the Spartans.

Dom Garcia
Dom is second in three all-time franchise categories: Points (74), Goals (28) and Assists (46). He committed to Arizona State where he currently has one point (assist) in seventeen games for the Sun Devils.

Andrew Hart
After joining the team back in February from a trade with Topeka, the forward finished his Rebels career with ten points (6 goals and 4 assists) in fourteen games. He committed to SUNY Geneseo where he has played in one game.

Darion Hanson
After backstopping the Rebels to their first East Division championship, “Hanny” committed to Union College. During this past summer he was invited to participate in the Philadelphia Flyers prospect camp where he was the winning goalie in the 3 on 3 tournament. In eight games so far for Union this season, he has an impressive 1.76 goals against average and .926 save percentage.

Gvido Jansons
The highly skilled defenseman with a bomb of shot committed to Arizona State where he has two points (both goals) in eighteen games for the Sun Devils.

Brennan Kapcheck
The Rebels’ 2016-17 Defenseman of the Year committed to American International College where he has had an impressive freshman season. “Kappy” has fifteen points (4 goals and 11 assists) in nineteen games. He was named Atlantic Hockey’s Rookie of the Month for October, and he has helped AIC have its winningest first half since the 1998-99 season.

Colton McMenamin
“Mac” had four points (2 goals and 2 assists) in 23 games for Stevenson University last season. This year he has four points (all goals) in twelve games for the Mustangs.

Michael Merulla
The franchise’s all-time point leader per game (1.146) committed to Boston College where he appeared in three games last season with no points and has yet to play in a game so far this season for the Eagles.

Jerry Miettunen
The Finish defenseman committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior where last season he eight points (3 goals and 5 assists) in twenty-eight games. This season he has played in six games with no points.

Mareks Mittens
The North American Hockey League’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player and Best Goaltender committed to Lake State where “Mits” has appeared in eleven games and has posted a 3.67 goals against average and a .892 save percentage.

Ryan Solomon
Posting the NAHL’s best +/- for the 2016-17 season with a +39, “Solly” committed to Northeastern but has yet to play in a game.

Frank Spellman
“Frankie” committed to Endicott College where he had eight points (1 goal and 7 assists) in twenty-two games last season. This year he transferred to the University of St. Thomas where he has four points (all assists) in seven games.

Austin Swingle
“Swings” had eleven points (4 goals and 7 assists) in twenty-two games last season for Stevenson University. This year he three points (2 goals and 1 assist) in eleven games for the Mustangs.

Mason Van Tuyl
“Mas” had one point (assist) in twenty-two games for the University of Wisconsin River Falls last season.

Evgeny Yakovlev
“Gino” or “Yak” scored the winning goal in game three of last season’s semi-finals to send the Rebels to the Robertson Cup finals committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior has four points (1 goal and 3 assists) in thirteen games this season.

Weekend Preview: 9/30 – 10/1; Rebels host Tomahawks in home opening weekend

The Rebels long awaited home opener at the venerable Class of 1923 Arena at the University of Pennsylvania is finally here. The two teams will meet on Saturday night at 7:35pm and on Sunday at 6:20pm. Saturday night’s will feature a festive mood before the game with outdoor music and a beer garden. Philadelphia Flyers legend Bernie Parent will drop the ceremonial first puck and sign autographs through the first period.

Tomahawks vs. Rebels: 2016-17
Despite defeating the Tomahawks nine out of twelve games last season, the series was extremely close. The Rebels outscored Johnstown by only five goals (27 to 22). In fact, the fate of nine games was decided by one goal between them. The Rebels were 10% on the powerplay while the Tomahawks were 11%. Returning Rebel Aaron Maguyon along with former captain Dom Garcia each had seven points against Johnstown while former Tomahawk standout Donovan Ott had eleven points against the Rebels.

Tomahawks Overview
Last season the Tomahawks finished second in the East Division with a 40-16-4 record for 84 points, the best in team history. This season, however, has not started well for the Rebels rival from Western Pennsylvania. They currently have a 2 – 5 record for four points. The Tomahawks went 1 – 3 at the recently concluded NAHL Showcase. They are currently in last place and eight points behind division leader Northeast Generals.

The Tomahawks have scored 14 goals on the young season (eighth best in the league) and they have allowed 26 (most in the league). Forward Joe Kile leads the Tomahawks in total points with five (all goals) while Karim DelPonte leads the defensemen with three points (1 goal and 2 assists). Chris Trouba has the most penalty minutes with 24, and Samuel Solensky has the best +/- with +1. Johnstown is fifth in the league on the powerplay having scored 25% of the time while they are seventeenth on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 79.3% of the time.

Tomahawks goaltending tandem of Vinnie Purpura and Jack Faulkner have a combined 3.58 goals against average and .897 save percentage with no shutouts.

Rebels Overview
The 2016-17 season was special one for the Rebels. They had a league best 46-11-3 record for 95 points and made it to the Robertson Cup finals. This season the Rebels have started strong going 4 – 0 in the NAHL Showcase, and the Rebels are currently the only undefeated team in the league.

Despite having a 4 – 0 record, the Rebels are in third place in the East Division with eight points, four behind the Northeast Generals (although the Generals have played three more games).

The Rebels have scored ten goals (15th best in the league) and have allowed five (tied for first with two other teams). Jensen Zerban is the Rebels top goal scorer and point leader with five (3 goals and 2 assists). Zerban’s three goals were all game winners. Diarmad DiMurro leads the defensemen with two points (both assists). Andrew Bellant leads the team with ten penalty minutes while Zerban has the best +/- with +3. The Rebels are sixth in the league on the powerplay having converted 23.1% of their chances, and they are fourteenth in the league on the penalty kill having prevent the opposition from scoring 81.3% of the time.

Rebels goaltenders Eli Billing, Ryan Keane and Jack Leavy have a combined 1.25 goals against average and a .949 save percentage with one shutout.

Rebels win 4 – 2 over Wings to take one game lead in semi-finals

The Aston Rebels used three points from Drew Blackmun and a strong performance by goaltender Mareks Mitens to lead them to a 4 – 2 win over the Aberdeen Wings The victory gives the Rebels a one game to none advantage in this best-of-three semi-final series.

The Rebels would get on the board first. Kolby Vegara would bring the puck up through center ice and into the Wings zone. As soon as he brought the puck in the zone he passed it to Drew Blackmun on his right. Blackmun would dump the puck into the far side corner where Vegara chased it. Vegara would pick up the puck and send it back to Blackmun along the boards. The Rebels’ assistant captain passed it over to a wide-open Carter Woolley in the slot and he took a one-timer that beat Aberdeen goaltender Forbes Ploszaj short side to make it a 1 – 0 game with 5:57 remaining in the first period. It was Woolley’s first goal of the playoffs.

After a save by Mitens the rebound was picked up by Ryan Patrick. Patrick would bring the puck up through the neutral zone on a two-on-one with Gianluca Esteves. As Patrick brought the puck in the offensive zone he passed it to Esteves on his right. Esteves caught Ploszaj moving and the Winnipeg, MB native took a wrist shot that beat Ploszaj long side to make it a 2 – 0 with 2:37 remaining in the first.

The Rebels would take a 3 – 0 lead on Dom Garica’s first goal of the playoffs. After a draw deep inside the Wings far side zone, Aberdeen defenseman Jack Kelly went to pass the puck up to a teammate but it was intercepted by Garcia in the neutral zone. Garcia brought the puck along the boards and took a wrist shot that beat the netminder high, short side with 6:20 left in the second period.

The momentum of the game then changed to the Wings benefit. After peppering Mitens with shots, the Central Division playoff champions would get on the board with 3:16 left in the middle stanza.

Garcia was called goaltender interference 2:58 left in the period to give the Wings the extra attacker. Colton Fletcher would bring the puck up out of his own end and it the Rebels zone to the top of the near side faceoff circle. Fletcher passed it down low to Carter Roo. Roo started to go to his left but immediately stopped and passed the puck back to Fletcher who was near Mitens blocker side. Fletcher took a shot that beat Mitens long side to make it a 3 – 1 game.

With time running out on the second period and the Rebels playing on their heels, the Wings cut their deficit in half with a second remaining. Blackmun picked up a rebound and brought it behind the Rebels net. As he tried an outlet pass it was intercepted by Kevin Fitzgerald at the far side faceoff circle. Fitzgerald moved slightly forward and beat Mitens for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Trying to capitalize on their success at the end of the second period, the Wings started the final period strong but Mitens had to make a couple of Grade A saves to maintain the Rebels one goal lead. The Rebels then began to play shutout defense and limited the Wings to minimal shots in the third. Blackmun would then score an empty net goal forty-eight seconds left in the game to make it a 4 – 2 game.

Mitens would turn aside 30 of 32 shots while Ploszaj stopped 20 of 23 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels need one more win to advance the NAHL’s Robertson Cup finals. They play the Wings in game two tomorrow at 5:30pm ET.

Rebels win game five 6 – 2 to advance to NAHL’s semi-finals in Duluth

Evgeny Yakovlev scored two goals to lead the Aston Rebels to a 6 – 2 victory over the visiting New Jersey Titans. The win enabled the Rebels to win their second straight East Division playoff championship three games to two and advance to the NAHL’s semi-finals in Duluth, MN as the league’s number one seed.

The Rebels will play the winner of tonight’s fifth and deciding game between the Aberdeen Wings and Minnesota Wilderness.

This was a very good series with both teams displaying grit, determination, speed and physicality. It was a shame one of them had to lose. Each team pushed the other and helped the other prepare for the semi-finals.

New Jersey’s Hunter Alden was called for cross-checking at the 11:39 mark of the first period putting the Rebels on the power play. With time winding down with the extra attacker, Ryan Solomon brought the puck out of his own zone and passed it up to Drew Blackmun. Blackmun would take a wrist shot that was kicked aside by Titans goalie Ryan Ferland into the far corner. Blackmun would pick up his own rebound and passed it back slightly to Gianluca Esteves. Esteves passed it back to Solomon at the top of the point and he took shot that beat Ferland long side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead with 6:35 remaining in the opening period.

After outshooting the Titans 12 – 4 after one period, the Rebels looked to grow their lead. And they did by scoring two goals 1:17 apart from each other early in the second.

After Dustin Manz won the draw deep inside the Titans zone the puck would go into the near side corner where it was picked up by Adam Peck. Peck would battle for the puck and passed it up slightly along the boards to Andrew Hart. Hart would charge towards the net and take a shot that was saved by Ferland but Peck picked up the rebound and put it past Ferland to make it a 2 – 0 Rebels lead just 2:16 into the second.

Yakovlev then would score his first goal of the night to give the Rebels a 3 – 0 lead. New Jersey’s Anthony Cusanelli hustled into the Rebels zone to prevent an icing call. As he picked up the puck he went to pass it back to a teammate but it was intercepted by Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon would bring the puck up along the far side boards and into the Titans zone. As he reached the faceoff dot he found a trailing Yakovlev in the slot and the big Russian buried Maguyon’s pass by Ferland at the 3:33 mark of the middle stanza.

New Jersey, however, never quit. Gordie Helmuth would put the Titans on the board just 2:17 later. After time had just expired on Gvido Jansons cross-checking penalty there was a faceoff deep inside the Rebels near side zone. Alden would win the draw and the puck came out to Helmuth who immediately took a shot that beat Rebels goalie Jack Leavy short side to make it a 3 – 1 game.

The Rebels would regain the three-goal lead with 5:45 left in the second. Maguyon would bring the puck into the Titans zone and immediately passed it over to Esteves on his right. Esteves would take a shot that was saved by Ferland but Maguyon picked up the rebound and passed the puck back to Jansons at the top of the point. Jansons would slightly skate further into the zone and took a wrist shot that beat Ferland high to make it a 4 – 1 game. Ferland was then replaced by Brandon Perrone.

A minute and twenty-eight seconds later Helmuth cut the Rebels lead in two again. After Dom Garcia dumped the puck into the Titans zone for a line change it was picked up by Helmuth in the high slot. Helmuth saw daylight and skated untouched into the Rebels zone. As he crossed the blueline he took a wrist shot the beat Leavy glove side to make a 4 – 2 game with 4:17 remaining in the period.

Yakovlev would score his second goal of the game a minute and nine seconds later. Maguyon, who had three assists on the evening, won the draw deep inside the Titans far side corner. The puck went back to Yakovlev at the top of the circle and he took a shot that beat Perrone 3:08 left in the second. It was Yakovlev’s fourth goal of the playoffs.

The Rebels continued to play shutdown defense in the third. With time winding down in the game and Perrone pulled for the extra attacker, Blackmun would score his fourth goal of the playoffs – an empty netter –  with thirty-seven seconds left to make it a 6 – 2 game.

Leavy stopped 14 of 16 shots with Ferland/Perrone turned aside 34 of 39 shots. Click here for the box score.

After finding out who they will play later tonight, the Rebels will have a practice on Tuesday and then take a 8:30am flight out to Minneapolis on Wednesday morning. The team will have a brief practice at 8:00pm ET and their first game will be played on Thursday at 5:30pm ET.

Weekend Preview: 5/5 – 5/7. Divisional Final round moves to New Jersey. Rebels one win away from advancing to semi-finals

The East Division finals will resume this weekend with the Rebels up two games to none against the New Jersey Titans in this best-of-five series. Game three will be played on Friday at Middletown’s Ice World at 7:30pm. Game four would be on Saturday at 7:30pm at Ice World if needed. Should the series go to a fifth and final game, it would be played on Sunday, May 7 at 7:00pm at IceWorks. The winner of this series will go onto the Robertson Cup semi-finals which begins on Thursday, May 11 in Duluth, MN.

Closing out the series is the hardest thing to do, and during the course of the regular season the Rebels had a losing record on the road against the Titans, winning only two of six games. This has been an extremely hard fought series – typical playoff hockey with excellent goaltending, physical and fast play.

“This has been a great series” stated Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “Yes, we are up but don’t be fooled. Each game could have gone either way. I think Saturday night was an overall great game for both teams. New Jersey is very fast. Craig and his staff have done an outstanding job. We need one more win and it will be extremely tough. We can’t afford to make any mistakes or New Jersey will make us pay for it” concluded Coombs.

The Rebels have outscored the Titans eight goals to four in the two games. Max Andreev leads the Titans with two goals against Aston. Andreev and Oskar Stromberg each have two points in the series. The Titans are one for three on the power play (33%). Titans goalie Ryan Ferland has played in both games. He possesses a 3.50 goals against average and a .865 save percentage.

The Rebels have used a balanced attack in this series with all eight goals being scored by different players. In fact, six players (Andrew Bellant, Gianluca Esteves, Dom Garcia, Brennan Kapcheck, Aaron Maguyon and Adam Peck) have two points respectively. The Rebels are one for six on the power play (17%). Saturday night’s power play goal was the first power play goal allowed by the Titans during the playoffs. Mareks Mitens has played in both games in the series. He has a 2.00 goals against average and a .894 save percentage.

New Jersey Titans Overview
During the playoffs the Titans have been led by three players with three points each: Jordan Kaplan (3 goals), Todd Goehring (2 goals and 1 assist) and Stromberg (all assists). Kaplan has the most goals with three. Nick Boyagian has two game winning goals for New Jersey. Goehring leads the team in penalty minutes with 25 while Tyler Antonucci has a team best +3 +/- ratio.

The Titans have scored eleven goals in five playoff games which is last of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs. They have allowed eleven goals in the playoffs which is tied for second with the Rebels for least allowed. They have scored 13.3% of the time on the power play and have prevented the opposition from scoring with the extra attacker 95% of the time (third best in the playoffs).

Ferland had a 2.00 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. He has played every minute in the playoffs for the Titans.

Aston Rebels Overview
The Rebels have been led by three players in the playoffs who each have five points: Esteves (2 goals and 3 assists), Jensen Zerban (2 goals and 3 assists) and Kapcheck (1 goal and 4 assists). Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have three goals. Jansons has a +8 +/- ratio during the playoffs while four players each have a team high four penalty minutes.

The Rebels have scored twenty goals in five playoff games (third best of the eight remaining teams). Aston is fourth in the playoffs on the power play converting on 27.8% of their chances while they are seventh of the remaining teams on the penalty kill with preventing the opposition from scoring 68.8% of the time.

Mitens possesses a 2.01 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Manz’s goal gives Rebels 3 – 2 win over Titans and a two-game lead in divisional finals

Dustin Manz’s goal with 9:37 left in the game gave the Aston Rebels a 3 – 2 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans. The victory gives the Rebels’ a two games to none lead in the Robertson Cup’s best-of-five Divisional Final Series. Should they win one more game next weekend the team will advance to the league’s semi-finals beginning on May 11 in Duluth, MN.

This was classic playoff hockey: fast paced, up and down action with both teams having excellent scoring chances countered by excellent goaltending. It was a game with limited penalties and the duration lasted only two hours and six minutes.

Using the same formula as Friday night the Rebels got on the board first very early in the opening period. Gvido Jansons brought the puck out of his own near side boards and passed it up to Andrew Bellant in the neutral zone. Bellant dumped the puck into the Titans zone where it went into their far side corner. Dom Garcia battled for the puck in the corner and passed it up slightly along the boards to Drew Blackmun. Blackmun would skate around the faceoff circle and took a wrist shot that beat New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland short side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 just 1:17 into the game.

Unlike Friday night, however, the Titans would counter roughly four minutes later. As the Titans started to bring the puck out of their zone there was a breakdown in the Rebels forechecking. Anthony Cusanelli would bring the puck out and passed it over to Tiernan Seningen on his right. Seningen would bring the puck up along the near side boards and into the Rebels zone on a two-on-one with Maxim Andreev. Andreev would go around Rebels defenseman Andrew Noel and passed the puck over an outstretched Adam Peck in the slot to Andreev who redirected it passed Mareks Mitens to tie the game at one at 5:04 into the opening period.

With 8:49 remaining in the first, New Jersey’s Tyler Antonucci would be called for slashing to put the Rebels on the power play. After an in-close save by Ferland a Titans defenseman dumped the puck all the way behind the Rebels net where it was brought up by Brennan Kapcheck. As Kapcheck exited his own zone he passed the puck up to Jensen Zerban As Zerban entered the Titans zone he passed it to Dom Garcia on his left. Garcia would make a reverse play and send the puck back to Kapcheck at the near side point. Kapcheck would pass it over to Gvido Jansons at the top of the point and he took a blast that beat Ferland short side to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 lead with 7:40 left in the period. It was Jansons’ third goal of the playoffs – all coming on the power play. It also happened to be the very first power play goal that New Jersey has allowed during the playoffs.

Just as the second period hit the midway point, Cusanelli would bring the puck up along his far side points into the Rebels zone on a three-on-three. As Cusanelli skated to the top of the faceoff circle he left a drop pass to Tyler Antonucci. Antonucci simply shot the puck on net but it was redirected by Andreev pasted Mitens to tie the game at two.

While the fans from both teams started to feel the anxiety of the tight play as the game headed to the middle of the third period, it was the Rebels second youngest player who would change its outcome.

As the Rebels dumped the puck into the Titans far side corner Peck went to dig it out and pass it up slightly to Ryan Patrick. Patrick would push the puck back to Manz who sent it back to Kapcheck at the point. Kapcheck took a shot on net that was blocked out in front by a Titans’ defenseman but the puck came out to Manz at the top of the slot. Manz would skate to his left and take a backhand shot that went passed Ferland up high to give the Rebels a 3 – 2 lead. It was the Vanderbilt, MI native’s second goal of the playoffs.

Mitens stopped 18 of 20 shots while Ferland turned aside 23 of 26. Click here for the box score.

With the win the Rebels are one victory away from advancing to their second straight league semi-finals. However, the series now shifts back to New Jersey next weekend where the Rebels only won two out of six games during the regular season. Game three is slated for Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World.

Bellant, Jansons, Kapcheck & Mitens named to all East Division team. Coombs’ East Division GM/coach of the year

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its All-Division teams and honors for the 2016-17 season, and the Aston Rebels were huge winners within the East Division.

The Rebels had four players named to the All East Division team: forward Andrew Bellant, defensemen Gvido Jansons and Brennan Kapcheck and goaltender Mareks Mitens.

Bellant had the most points on the team with 55 (27 goals and 28 assists). He also was the team’s top goal scorer with 27. He also had the most game winning goals with seven but also had the most penalty minutes on the team with 156. Bellant was the East Division’s player of the week for week ending October 2. He was named honorable mention for forward of the months of September and October, and he was the second star of the week for March 26. Bellant also was voted the team’s Best Offensive Player of the Year. Bellant is the Rebels all-time leader in the following categories: points (86), goals (40), assists (46), penalty minutes (287), points per season (55) and goals per season (27).

Jansons, the Arizona State University commit, was third on the team with 46 total points (19 goals and 27 assists). He played in the World Junior Championships back in December for his home country Latvia, and in the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February having one point in two games. He was named the East Division’s second star of the week for week ending October 9 and December 11 while he was honorable mention for week ending January 15.

Kapcheck, pound for pound the best defenseman in the league, had 42 total points on the season (17 goals and 25 assists). The American International College commit had a +37 +/- ratio. He was named the Rebels Best Defensive Player of the Year. He was named honorable mention for week ending October 30, honorable mention for defenseman of the month for October, second star of the week for week ending November 13 and defenseman of the month for November.

Mitens was named the East Divison’s Most Valuable Player and East Division goaltender of the year. The Ventspils, Latvia native and Lake Superior State commit led the NAHL in wins (31), goals against average (1.63) and shutouts (11). The eleven shutouts set a new NAHL single season record for most shutouts in a season. He also played for his native Latvia in the World Junior Championships back in December. He played in five games and was the backbone of his team. He faced the third most shots in the tournament (170), and he was named Player of the Game for one of his games. He was the league’s goaltender of the month for October and November (runner up in September). He was the East Division’s player of the week for weeks ending November 6 and February 12.

Coombs was named the East Division’s general manager and head coach of the year. This is the second straight season Coombs was named the East Division’s Coach of the Year. His two years at the helm he has compiled a 81-32-7 record. His teams have won back-to-back East Division championships and this year was the NAHL’s regular season champion.

Dom Garcia, the Rebels captain and Arizona State University commit, won the East Division’s leadership award. He won the Rebels’ Hardest Working Player and Most Valuable Player awards for the 2016-17 season. He was second on the team in total points with 47 (14 goals and 33 assists).

The Rebels were named the East Division’s Organization of Year for the second straight year.

The teams and honors were voted upon and selected by the league’s 24 head coaches, and the awards were based on the performance during the 2016-17 regular season.

Rebels score five goals in third to sweep Knights and advance to divisional final series

The Aston Rebels overcame a two-goal deficit with 18 minutes remaining in the third period and scored five goals to give them a 7 – 5 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to sweep the best-of-five divisional semi-final series three games to none.  The win moves the Rebels into the divisional final series against the New Jersey Titans.

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly! However, good teams have to go through adversity and find ways to win and that is exactly what the Rebels did to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

The Knights entered the game having gone 0 for 8 on the power play but that would dramatically change this game. Andrew Noel was called for tripping with 6:48 into the opening period to give WBS the extra attacker. Paul Cimilluca took a shot from the near side point that was blocked in front of the crease but the puck came back out to the far side point to Joey Verkerke. Verkerke took a shot that was going wide of the net but Paul Maust was standing back door and the puck went off of Maust’s shin pads and bounced past Rebels goalie Mareks Mitens to give the Knights a 1 – 0 lead with 8:43 into the first period.

With 2:06 remaining in the opening period, the Knights dumped the puck deep inside the Rebels zone. Michael Underwood would retrieve the puck and bring it up the ice. As he skated towards his own blueline he was taken down by a Knights forward. While he was falling, Underwood passed the puck to Dustin Manz on his left. Manz would cut across center ice and take a wrist shot at the top of the far side faceoff circle and beat Knights’ goalie Grant Valentine high and long side to tie the game at one.

Having only taken four shots on goal in the first period, the Knights wanted to make the most of their shots in the second period. And they did. Carter Woolley was called for tripping fifty seconds into the middle stanza putting the Knights on another power play.  As the puck came loose from players battling in the Rebels near side corner, it was picked up by Maust along the boards. Maust sent a pass back to the point to Cimilluca. The Knights’ defenseman took a shot that was redirected by Mike Gelatt at the top of the crease and the puck went through Mitens five-hole and slowly crossed the goal line to give the Knights a 2 – 1 lead with 2:09 into the second period.

After an icing call was waived off in the Rebels zone, Curtis Carlson intercepted a Brennan Kapcheck pass at the far side blueline. Carlson took a shot that went wide of the net but Cimilluca picked it up at the side of the net. Cimilluca passed the puck to Gelatt at the top of the slot and he took a shot that beat Mitens to give the Knights a 3 – 1 just 8:19 into the middle period.

Head coach Joe Coombs then replaced Mitens with Jack Leavy.

Despite being down by two goals, the Rebels started to get some life in them in the second period. However, Valentine had to make several grade A saves to keep the visitors off the board. With time running out in the period, the Rebels would cut the deficit by one.

After another nice save by Valentine, the rebound came out and was cleared to the Rebels blueline where is was picked up by Underwood. Underwood would pass it up to Drew Blackmun at center ice. Blackmun would pass the puck over to Dom Garcia on his right. Garcia would bring the puck into the Knights zone along the near side boards. Garcia would cut to his left and took a shot that was saved by Valentine but Blackmun picked up the rebound and put it past the fallen Knights’ netminder to make it a 3 – 2 game with forty-one second left in the second.

Kapcheck would start the third period off by taking a holding penalty just forty-two seconds into the final period. The Knights would capitalize on it by scoring their third power play goal of the game. While a scrum was taking place in the Rebels far side corner, the puck would come out to Maust who passed it back to the point to Cimilluca. Cimillica took a shot that was redirected by Tim Gelatt in the slot passed Leavy to make a 4 – 2 game just 2:09 into the final period.

Realizing that there was a strong possibility that they would have to travel back up the Pennsylvania turnpike to play the Knights again on Saturday night, the Rebels suddenly redirected their course and returned to playing Rebels hockey. And the comeback began with the team’s two Gino’s.

Gvido Jansons would start the play by picking up a Knights’ clearing pass. He passed the puck over to his right to Kapcheck. Kapcheck head manned the puck to a streaking Gianluca Esteves along the far side boards. He entered the Knights zone on a two-on-one with Evgeny Yakovev. Esteves would send a back-door pass to Yakovlev who redirected the puck behind Valentine to make it a 4 – 3 game with thirteen minutes left in the game.

Having a 4 – 3 lead with 10:25 left in the period, the Knights’ Mike Gelatt was called for hooking to give the Rebels the extra attacker. Kapcheck started the play at the top of the point and passed the puck to Jensen Zerban on his left. The speedy forward would pass the puck down low to Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon sent a pass across the goalmouth to Jansons who took a one-timer that was stopped by Valentine but the rebound came right back out to Jansons who put it top shelf passed Valentine to tie the game at four with eleven minutes remaining in the game.

The Rebels would take their first lead of the game with 5:26 left. After Zerban won the draw at the Knights’ near side faceoff circle, the puck would be picked up by Andrew Bellant. Bellant would cut across the goalmouth and take a turnaround shot that beat Valentine over the shoulder to make it a 5 – 4 game.

Carlson then was called for tripping with 4:26 left in the third putting the Rebels on the power play. Zerban would win another draw deep inside the Knights’ near side faceoff circle. The puck would come back to the point to Kapcheck. Kapcheck would play give-and-go with Auggie Moore. Once Kapcheck received the puck back from Moore he passed it over to his right to Jansons who took a one-timer and blew it by Valentine to make it a 6 – 4 game with 4:17 left in the game.

But the game wasn’t over. Manz would be called for elbowing with 2:51 remaining in the game. The Knights’ pulled Valentine to make it 6 on 4. After a shot from the nearside faceoff circle went through the Rebels goalmouth the puck was picked up by Matt Kidney in the corner. Kidney send a pass back to the far side point to Jimmy Elsner. Elsner took a shot that was redirected by Mike Gelatt to make it a 6 – 5 game 1:49 remaining. It was the Knights fourth powerplay goal on the night.

Having pulled the goalie for the extra attacker the Knights applied strong pressure in the Rebels zone. After a clearing the puck the Knights went to regroup and brought the puck back into the offensive zone. Kapcheck stripped the Knights’ player of the puck and sent it into the empty net to make it a 7 – 5 game.

Mitens and Leavy combined to make 16 saves on 21 shots while Valentine turned aside 19 of 25 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels will open the divisional finals against the New Jersey Titans on Friday, April 28 at 7:00pm for game one of the best-of-five series. The Titans defeated the Johnstown Tomahawks by the score of 3 – 2 in overtime to sweep their best-of-five series.

The divisional final series schedule series will be announced very early in the week.

Weekend Preview: 4/14 – 4/15; Divisional Semi-Finals begin against WBS Knights

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.

Weekend Preview: 4/7 – 4/8. Rebels travel to Johnstown to close out regular season

Aston Rebels vs. Johnstown Tomahawks Overview
The Rebels will travel to Johnstown this weekend to play two games against the Tomahawks and close out the regular season for both teams. Although the Rebels have won eight of the ten games between these two clubs, nine of the games have been decided by a one goal margin with the Rebels scoring a total of 23 goals while the Tomahawks have scored 18. Three of the games have gone into overtime, and each team has recorded a shutout.

The last time these two teams played each other was on March 17 and 18 in the Cambria County War Memorial with each team winning a game. The Rebels won the second game 3 – 2 on Andrew Bellant’s 25th goal of the season.

Donovan Ott leads the Tomahawks in points against the Rebels with ten (5 goals and 5 assists) while Nick Bruce has seven points (4 goals and 3 assists) and Filips Buncis has five points (4 goals and 1 assist). Ott has scored the most goals against the Rebels with five.  The Tomahawks are 4 for 36 (11%) on the power play. Johnstown’s goalies have a combined 2.30 goals against average with a .900 save percentage. Drew Hotte has played in eight of the ten games. He has a 2.25 goals against with a .90 save percentage and one shutout.

Aaron Maguyon (2 goals and 4 assists) and Ryan Solomon (1 goal and 5 assists) each have six points against Johnstown this season. Dom Garcia has scored the most goals against the Hawks with four. Maguyon and Brennan Kapcheck each have scored game winning goals in overtime. The Rebels are 4 for 33 (12%) on the power play. The Rebels goaltending has a combined 1.80 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Markes Mitens has played in seven of the ten games. He has a 1.71 goals against and a .928 save percentage with one shutout.

Johnstown Tomahawks Overview
The Tomahawks will finish second in the East Division. They currently have a 39-15-3-1 record for 82 points, eleven points behind the Rebels. Johnstown is coming off of an 8 – 3 win over the Northeast Generals. The Tomahawks have won seven of their last ten games. They have scored 205 goals (fifth most in the league) and have allowed 144 (fifth least in the league) through 58 games.

The Tomahawks are led by Nick Bruce’s 66 points (26 goals and 40 assists). He is accompanied by Dalton Hunter’s 60 points (30 goals and 30 assists) and Ott’s 56 points (31 goals and 25 assists). Ott has the most goals on the team with 31.  Adam Pilewicz leads the Tomahawks’ defensemen with 27 points (4 goals and 23 assists). Hunter leads the team with eight game winning goals.

Johnstown is ranked thirteenth in the league on the power play with an 19.2% conversion ratio while they are ranked sixth in the league on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 84.3% of the time. Thomas Horn leads the team with 188 penalty minutes. Hunter has the team’s best +/- ratio of +36.

Goaltenders Drew Hotte and Vinnie Purpura have a combined 2.47 goals against average and a .907 save percentage along with six shut outs (five for Hotte).

Aston Rebels Overview
The Rebels clinched their second straight regular season East Division title and will enter the Robertson Cup playoffs with the NAHL’s best record. They go into this weekend’s series against the Tomahawks with a 45-10-2-1 record for 93 points. They are coming off of a 5 – 0 win over the New Jersey Titans. The Rebels have won seven out of their last ten games. They have scored 210 goals (third best in the league) and have allowed only 102 goals (least amount in the NAHL) through 58 games.

The Rebels are led by Andrew Bellant’s 55 points (27 goals and 28 assists). He is followed by Garica’s 47 points (14 goals and 33 assists) and Gvido Jansons’ 46 points (19 goals and 27 assists). Bellant also leads the team in goals with 27 and game winning goals with seven. Jansons also leads the team’s defensemen with 46 points.

The Rebels are ranked third in the league on the power play with a 23.2% conversion ratio while they are ranked first in the league on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 86.3% of the time. Bellant leads the team with 156 penalty minutes. Solomon has the team’s best +/- ratio of +39.

The goaltending tandem of Mitens (1.56 GAA and .928 SV%) and Jack Leavy (1.82 GAA and .921 SV%) has a combined 1.69 goals against average and a .924 save percentage with seventeen shutouts.