For the first time in over a month, the Knights will be back at AZ Ice Gilbert this weekend for a series against the Ontario Avalanche. Since their last home games at the start of December, Phoenix has gone 7-2-0, including a 5-3 win over Valencia to close out their series last weekend. The Knights play nine of their final 15 games at home, and with a competitive Western Division, performing well at home will be important for Phoenix.
Up Next: Ontario Avalanche
The Avalanche finished the first half of the season on an 11-game winning streak, and that catapulted them into second in the Western Division. The streak came crashing down when they played against Fresno after the break, losing 11-4 on home ice. Last weekend, the Avs got back to their winning ways, sweeping a close series against the San Diego Sabers.
Phoenix and Ontario played against each other earlier this season in Ontario. The Avalanche swept the series, but after an 8-1 Ontario win on Friday, the two teams played much closer games the next two days, 5-3 and 4-1.
While the Avalanche are trying to hold off Valencia in the standings, they also are starting to set their sights on Long Beach. Entering play this weekend, Ontario sits just six points behind Long Beach for the top spot in the Western Division.
Players to Watch
1. Arunas Bermejo (12G, 19A in 33GP) – Bermejo has been on fire since the showcase started. He has six multi-point performances in his last eight games, including seven points (5G, 2A) in his last two. He’s jumped into second on the team in scoring, after starting the season without a point in his first nine games. Much like the rest of the team, it looks like Bermejo is heating up at the perfect time.
2. Kohl Hedquist (10G, 6A in 36GP) – Hedquist picked up his first goals of the season when the Knights were in Ontario earlier this season. His ten goals on the year are good enough for third on the team, but Phoenix needs him to find that scoring touch again. Saturday’s empty-net goal to seal the win in Valencia was his first since mid-November, a span of 12 games without a goal.
3. Michael Caravella (7G, 23A in 31GP) – The Knights will lean on their captain this weekend against Ontario. He has ten points (1G, 9A) in his last eight games, and had a modest five-game point streak during that time as well.
1. Jesse Zaharichuk (18G, 30A in 30GP) – The former WHLer leads Ontario in points and assists this season. He’ll enter the weekend on a four-game point streak, having picked up a single assist in all four games of 2018. When Ontario and Phoenix met in California earlier this season, he had one goal and four assists over the three-game series.
2. William Ma (25G, 22A in 31GP) – Ma leads the Avalanche with his 25 goals. He’s enjoyed playing against the Knights in his two-year career with Ontario. In nine games, Ma has eight goals and six assists, including a four goal, three assist weekend against Phoenix earlier this season. He’s in the midst of a six-game point streak (4G, 8A), dating back to the showcase in December.
3. Alex Bouchard (18G, 23A in 31GP) – Bouchard is the top goal scoring and third-highest scoring defenseman in the WSHL this season, just five points behind JC Dubecky of El Paso. Against Phoenix in October, Bouchard had four goals and five assists in three games.
Friday, January 19 at 7pm – vs. Ontario
Saturday, January 20 at 7pm – vs. Ontario
Sunday, January 21 at 1pm – vs. Ontario
Thursday, February 1 at 7:45pm (8:45pm AZ time) - @ Fresno
Friday, February 2 at 5:30pm (6:30pm AZ time) - @ Fresno
Saturday, February 3 at 5:30pm (6:30pm AZ time) - @ Fresno
Friday, February 9 at 7pm – vs. Valencia
Saturday, February 10 at 7pm – vs. Valencia
Sunday, February 11 at 1pm – vs. Valencia