By Patrick Ramsdale/USPHL.com
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (2) vs Utica Jr. Comets (3)
All games at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Game 1: Friday, March 10 at 3:15 p.m. EST
Game 2: Saturday, March 11 at 7:45 p.m. EST
Game 3: Sunday, March 12 at 1:15 p.m. EST (if necessary)
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights are set to host the Utica Jr. Comets in a best-of-three series against inside Revolution Ice Centre this weekend. The winner of this series will advance to USPHL Nationals in Utica.
Wilkes-Barre is the 2-seed entering the series after sweeping a series against the Elmira Jr. Enforcers.
The Knights have proven all season long that they are one of the deepest teams in the USPHL. That depth was shown in the playoffs as well, with 13 players finding the scoresheet in the series against Elmira.
This depth will be important heading into a series with a tough Utica team.
“Headed into the second round we are relying on our team speed and depth to keep us going,” said Head Coach Dom Manochio.
Another successful component of the Knights game has been its special team according to Manochio. “It’s also important for us to be aware of their power play, as it has been a strength for their team throughout the season.”
Wilkes-Barre scored a league-leading eight goals on the man advantage during its first round series with the Jr. Enforcers.
Manochio knows what Utica is capable of, as the Jr. Comets are one of the few teams that has a victory over Wilkes-Barre this season.
“Our season series with Utica was a battle each game,” said Manochio. “Although we were able to have success against them in the regular season, we are prepared for another level that any team would bring at this point in this postseason.”
Utica enters the series fresh of a convincing series sweep against the Hershey Cubs.
Utica showed that their team has depth as well. 20 players recorded a point in the two-game
series, with thirteen posting multiple points.
Utica’s goaltending was a big piece of the Jr. Comets success, with their netminders combining for 63 saves on 67 shots.
Utica’s path in the playoffs has been very similar compared to last postseason, as they took down the Cubs in the first round and faced the Knights in the following round just one year ago. The Jr. Comets will look to keep history from repeating this year, as Wilkes-Barre came out on top of the competitive series last year.