#USPHLPlayoffs: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights vs. Elmira Impact

Atlantic Division 

Elmira Impact (5) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (2) 

All Games At Revolution Ice Centre, Pittston, PA

Friday, March 8, 4:30 p.m. EST

Saturday, March 9, 12:30 p.m. EST 

Sunday, March 10, 9:30 a.m. EST (If Necessary) 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


One of the two Atlantic Division teams “born” in the 2020s will be going to the 2024 Nationals, and neither organization is a stranger to the championship tournament. 

Both the Elmira Impact and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights have made trips to the big dance, and both made it in their inaugural seasons. The Impact hit the ice in Chesapeake, Va., as a first-year team in 2021, and the Knights were at Hudson, N.H., as a first-year team (along with their Elite squad) in 2022. The Knights also made the trip as a two-team program in 2023 in the first year at Utica, N.Y.

So, as you can imagine, there are a lot of bragging rights on the line to carry the torch for 2020s franchises. During this season, these opponents met four times and split their season series. WBS went 2-0-2-0 to take more points, as both their losses were in OT, while Elmira took two regulation losses (2-2-0-0). Both teams are coming out of 2-0 sweeps in the first round of the Atlantic Division playoffs. WBS won their home series against the No. 7 Jersey Hitmen, while the Impact won two on the road against the No. 4 P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. 

“As a group, we were happy with our effort in round one. Having home ice was a great advantage for us, and we look to carry that momentum into Round 2,” said WBS General Manager Dominick Manochio. “Next opponent up mentality – the way we play the game does not change. Elmira is a team that has improved in our division over the last few years, and we know they will be coming in hungry. We are confident in the group of veterans we have, surrounded with a deep cast of WBS players that have contributed all season long.”

“As we look ahead to WIlkes-Barre, we know the road only gets harder,” added Elmira Head Coach Glen Patterson. “Wilkes is a proven program, year after year booking a ticket to Nationals. They play a very fast and detailed game. We know to achieve our goal we will need to continue to elevate our play.” 

Patterson was excited to make it past the higher-seeded Jr. Islanders, but also knows they just eked out the series victory in a couple of close games, 4-2 and 3-2. 

“We look to clean up the negatives from our series against P.A.L. and lean into the positives even more,” said Patterson. “As a staff, we loved how our group responded to the highs and lows in a tight series vs. P.A.L. A lot of guys really stepped up in their roles. At this time of year, the difference between winning and losing can be extremely small. We will continue to focus on our structure and details as we prepare for Wilkes. We know it will take our best hockey, belief is high in the room.”

Regular season offense for Elmira began with Top 10 scorer Filip Tomiczek, whose 42-51-93 line was good for a tie for 10th place in the league this year. He registered greater than 2.11 points per game on average. 

Lex Roldan wasn’t far behind with 83 points in 43 games, while fellow forward Cam DeForest (46 points) and Robert Di Silvestro (45 points) also cleared the 1.00 points per game mark, along with defenseman Connor Craig (67 points in 44 games). Di Silvestro also came out of the season as the Impact’s top faceoff guy, winning 59 percent of his draws (351 wins total). 

Defenseman Matteo Moretta, who was acquired from Atlanta in December, led the team in plus-minus at +8. Forward Mario Smith was the team leader in blocked shots with 62 blocked shots. 

In net, Cole Stevens, Jeffrey Reda and Simon Johnson have all experienced some strong performances in net this year for Elmira. 

In the playoff series, there wasn’t much in the way of surprises – Roldan and Tomiczek led the way with three points in two games apiece. Defensemen Connor Craig, Reid Murray and Thomas Garron each had two points, and Reda went 2-0 with a .951 save percentage.   

Zackary Chouinard was the Knights’ top offensive performer from start to finish of the regular season, scoring 57 points in 42 games, and defenseman A.J. Saadeh ended up ranking second on the team in scoring with 37 points in 39 games. The team had a great late season pickup as Owen House joined the Premier team from the NCDC squad (and he also played Tier II in the CCHL in Canada this year) – House scored eight points in his seven games down the stretch to the end of the season. Teito Ishigaki was a pre-roster-deadline acquisition from Utica and has a total of 65 points in 48 games, including seven points in seven WBS games. The team also added former Tier II defenseman Noah Therrien (seven points in eight games) and WBS Knights 18U player Connor Lawrence (seven points in seven games). 

Saadeh led the team in plus-minus at +35 and third-year WBS blueliner Ryan Cunningham led in blocked shots with 69. Jared Showen, a member of the National runner-up Elite Knights last year, was the Premier team’s best faceoff man with 453 wins (65 percent). Galvin Reagan (10-5-1-4) was the Knights’ leading goalie, and he’ll be joined by Iannico Amaranto, who has split this season between Premier and NCDC, and Jon Schirmer, who split between the 18U and Premier Knights. 

In the postseason, Amaranto went 2-0 in net with 38 saves in the series. Offensively, Landon Bechtolt jumped out to take the lead with five points in two games, while Chouinard and Koichiro Matsudaira each scored four points. Cunningham led the D with three points in the two games.