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#USPHLNationals Elite Team Preview: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com

 

It’s Year 3 for the WBS Knights, and it’s also Year 3 at Nationals for the WBS Knights. 

The Elite team (and the Knights’ Premier team) has returned to Utica and will play in its third straight Nationals, one for every year of its existence since joining the league in 2022.

The Knights won the Atlantic Division this year, finishing 28-15-1-0, certainly impressive, but they’ve done even better in Years 1 (35 wins) and 2 (39 wins). Still, the Knights were strong enough to gain the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division. 

In the playoffs, they took on the No. 4 Jersey Hitmen, which was the other team along with the Knights in representing the Atlantic Division last year. The Hitmen of 2023 made the semifinals, falling to the Knights who went on to play the eventual champion Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. 

This year, it would only be the WBS Knights of the two who would make it to Nationals, as the Knights defeated the Hitmen 8-1 and 10-4. 

The Knights had three players in the Top 10 of Elite playoff scoring, with Blake Francione tying for second with nine points in two games. Veteran Jason DiMatteo was tied for fifth with seven points and Kaden Smith came across with five points in two games, good for a tie for fifth in the league. Andrew Zang stopped 59 of 64 in net in both wins against the Hitmen. 

This past season, the Knights went up against fellow Atlantic representatives the Rockets Hockey Club seven times and came out with a 3-4-0-0 record. The other Nationals team they faced somewhat more than seldom were the Northern Cyclones, against whom the Knights finished 2-2-0-0. 

Additional Nationals teams that the Knights took on during the regular season were the Metro Jets (3-2 win), Islanders Hockey Club (4-1 win) and the Tampa Bay Juniors (4-3 shootout loss).

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