By Patrick Ramsdale/USPHL.com
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (2) vs. Elmira Jr. Enforcers (7)
All games at Revolution Ice Centre
Friday, March 3, at 12:45 p.m. EST
Saturday, March 4, at 12:45 p.m. EST
Sunday, March 3 at 9:15 a.m. EST (if necessary)
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will face the Elmira Jr. Enforcers at Revolution Ice Centre starting on Friday for a best-of-three series. Wilkes-Barre has had an impressive season, posting a 35-7-2 record. The Knights look to repeat their success from last postseason, where they made a trip all the way to the USPHL National Championship.
Wilkes-Barre head coach Dom Manochio believes his team is strong both on and off the ice.
“We have a great group of young men here at the WBS Knights,” Manochio said. “It’s a very determined group that I’m proud to be a part of.”
The Knights are led up front by the duo of Justin Ryan and Hunter Parker, who have combined for 124 points. Ryan (‘03/Endwell, N.Y.) led the team in points with 70, with 34 goals and 36 assists. Parker (‘02/Granite City, Ill.) follows closely behind with 54 points in 31 games played this season. Overall, the Knights have 10 players with 20 or more points this season and 22 players in double-digits.
“Our depth and team speed are going to be strengths we rely on in our first round matchup,” said Manochio.
Wilkes-Barre has one of the strongest goaltending duos in the USPHL, with Tade Carman (‘03/Cary, NC) and Luke Remenyi (‘04/Deerfield Beach, Fla.). Both goaltenders finished the regular season in the top 10 in goals against, with Remenyi finishing fourth with a 1.75 GAA and Carmen rounding out the top 10 with a 2.01 GAA.
Although Wilkes-Barre swept the season series with Elmira, the Jr. Enforcers forced overtime against the Knights once during the series.
“We expect Elmira to play a very hard series,” said Manochio. “They were able to take one point from us in the regular season, so we know what they’re capable of.”
Elmira is back in the playoffs after missing out on postseason play in 2022 by just one point. Elmira made a trip to Nationals during its debut season in 2021. Jr. Enforcers head coach believes that his teams speed will be key during this series.
“I think here in Elmira our strengths are our quick transition and speed in all three zones,” Patterson said. “When we play with pace, we can generate a lot of offense and defend quickly.”
A key piece to Elmira’s offense this season has been stand-out Nathan Garau (‘05/Boltano, Italy). Garau finished the regular season 11th in the USPHL in scoring with 50 goals and 32 assists for 82 points.
His 82 points this season were the most by a 17-year-old in USPHL Premier history. He finished second in the Mid-Atlantic division behind Aviators forward Mathias Rakell.
Jamie Collins (‘04/York, P.E.I.) was also a major presence for the Jr. Enforcers, leading the team in assists with 35. Cole Stevens (‘05/Oakville, Ont., Canada) has been the primary between the pipes for Elmira, picking up eight wins in his rookie campaign.
Elmira will need to work to set the tempo of the series against Wilkes-Barre, as the Knights have been known to control the pace of play all season long.
“Throughout the season Wilkes-Barre played with a controlled aggression that made it difficult to execute plays,” Patterson said.