The scene shifts this weekend for the North American Hockey League’s East Division semi-final series between the Aston Rebels and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The Rebels, who have a 2 – 0 lead in the best of five series, will travel to play the Knights Friday at 7:30pm and possibly on Saturday at 7:30pm. If the Rebels win Friday night the series will be over. If they lose, the series will go to a game four on Saturday. Should the Rebels lose both games in Wilkes-Barre the deciding game in the series will be played on Monday, April 24 at 7:00pm at IceWorks. The winner of this series will advance to the divisional finals against the winner of the Johnstown Tomahawks and New Jersey Titans, which the Titans have a 2 – 0 lead as well.
Both games have been extremely close, in terms of scoring (the Rebels have outscored the Knights 5 – 2) and play. They have been up and down games while the Rebels’ Mareks Mitens and the Knights’ Grant Valentine have played exceptionally well in the nets to keep their respective team competitive.
The Rebels won the first game in the series by the score of 3 – 1 and then won game two 2 – 1. “The Knights have played very well” stated Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “WBS’ compete level has been outstanding! We’ve played okay in this series. We played well in the first game but not in the second. We were outplayed in the second game but we were fortunate enough to win it. We cannot afford any mistakes up there or they will make us pay for it. WBS is a very good team and have an excellent coaching staff. We are fighting for our lives” concluded Coombs.
The Knights’ goals have been scored by Curtis Carlson and Joe Schuler. Six different Knights (including Carlson and Schuler) have one point. WBS is 0 – 8 on the power play. Mike Gelatt leads the team in penalty minutes with four while five different players have a +1 +/- ratio. Valentine has a 2.50 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
Aston’s goals have been scored by Jensen Zerban (2), Drew Blackmun, Gianluca Esteves and Andrew Hart. Blackmun, Hart and Zerban each have two points. The Rebels are 2 for 7 (29%) on the power play. Auggie Moore has the most penalty minutes on the team with four. Carter Woolley, Hart and Zerban each have a +3 +/- ratio. Mitens has a 1.00 goals against average and a .953 save percentage.
If the Rebels advance to the divisional finals, the series will begin on Friday, April 28th and Saturday, April 29th – both games at IceWorks. The Rebels have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.