Wilkes Tops Local Rival King’s
WILKES-BARRE — The Wilkes men’s hockey team wasn’t rewarded for its hard work, but there wasn’t any frustration in the dressing room following the first period.
The Colonels controlled possession and the shot tally, and head coach Brett Riley knew the goals would come if they kept to their pregame plan for in-city rival King’s.
He was right.
Brendan Logan broke the scoreless tie at 8:26 of the second period, and Wilkes pulled away in the third for a 4-0 win over the Monarchs at a packed Toyota SportsPlex on Thursday.
“We’ve been preaching wearing teams down,” Riley said. “You get pucks to the net and you come wave after wave, and it might not work right away, but they stayed disciplined and committed.”
Wilkes improved to 14-5-1 overall and 10-3-1 in UCHC play with the victory. Wilkes also moved to 6-1 in the Middle Atlantic Conference, holding a five-point lead with only one conference game remaining.
King’s was willing to give the Colonels room at the blue line in order to clog space around the crease, and it worked for a full period.
The Monarchs blocked a couple shots, played tight defense in the slot and got a few big saves from netminder Brandon Daigle to keep Wilkes off the scoreboard for the first 28 minutes. However, Logan went right to the middle of the offensive zone after tipping a puck in front of the net. With a clear path to Daigle, he unleashed a rising wrister that fully turned momentum in the Colonels’ favor.
Tyson Araujo, Tyler Barrow and Phil Erickson all scored in the third period, with the latter’s coming shorthanded in the final minute. While Barrow and Donald Flynn have been the Colonels’ most potent scorers throughout the season, it was a display of the overall depth of the Wilkes lineup. Six players have now scored six or more times over the team’s 20 games.
“Right now, we’ve got 12 guys that can all put the puck in the net for us every night,” Logan said. “Even guys that are out of the lineup have scoring ability, so we have a lot of offensive upside here. When we commit to the D zone like we did tonight, good things happen and we showed that here tonight.”
Goaltender Brandon Gordon wasn’t tested much but stopped all 11 shots sent his direction for his third shutout of the season.
Daigle, meanwhile, was easily the Monarchs’ best player, making 29 saves through two periods (and 43 overall) to keep them within striking distance. However, the offense could never threaten once it transitioned into the Wilkes zone. The group also had only two shots over four power-play opportunities.
With the win, Wilkes completed the two-game season sweep against a King’s squad that would have loved to play spoiler away from home ice.
“We knew this was going to be a tight hockey game,” Riley said. “They’ve played a lot of really good games this year, and we knew we’d have to stay patient. They’d be hungry. We tried to match that and then some.” Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-821-2089; @CVPiccotti on Twitter