The Phoenix Knights are on the road again this weekend to face the Superior RoughRiders. Phoenix is still in search of their first win on the season, after dropping the first 12 games of the year.
This weekend series was originally scheduled against the Colorado Jr. Eagles, but the change was made to face the RoughRiders, who play their games in Superior, Colorado, a few weeks before the regular season began.
Up Next: Superior RoughRiders
Superior is off to a surprising start in the 2017-18 season. After finishing at the bottom of the Mountain Division a year ago, the RoughRiders are off to a 7-6-0 start this season. Through the first month of the season, they’ve faced some of the best the WSHL has to offer. Early in the season, they went head-to-head with the Ogden Mustangs. In the three-game series, Superior was able to steal a win. The RoughRiders just got back from their toughest road test yet, a three-game set against the Oklahoma City Blazers. They lost all three games, but showed the ability to play with Oklahoma City, a big step up from last year’s campaign.
The recent trend, although the opponents have been tougher, is not ideal for the RoughRiders. They began the season 5-0-0 with wins over Cheyenne, Casper and Ogden. Since then, they’ve gone 2-6-0, with their two wins coming at home against the Dallas Snipers.
Players to Watch
1. Anthony Masanotti (6G, 1A in 12GP) – Masanotti became the first Knight in nearly a year to get a hat-trick, and he did it all in the first period of a game in Fresno last weekend. Superior likes to score goals, so Phoenix’s leading scorer will be relied on heavily this weekend.
2. Jeffrey Solomon (0G, 0A in 6GP) – Solomon showed his willingness to drop the gloves last weekend in Fresno, going up against Ivan Vilcauskas, who has nearly 200 PIM in just 26 games in the WSHL. While he may not be in a situation to fight this weekend, he will be tasked with making life difficult for the RoughRiders top scorers.
3. Goaltending – No this isn’t a specific player, but rather a group of players. Through the first 12 games this season, there’s been an issue of allowing multiple goals in a short period of time, and usually on the next shift. It’s an issue that’s drained momentum from the team, and will have to be fixed for the Knights to start picking up wins this season.
1. Nikita Sheberov (20G, 14A in 13GP) – Sheberov is a big reason why the RoughRiders are off to the start that they are. He has scored goals in nine of the team’s 13 games. Six of those games have been multi-goal games, including two four-goal games and a three-goal game. He’s only been held off the scoresheet all-together twice this season, with both of those occasions coming in Superior losses.
2. Thore Weyrauch (10G, 14A in 13GP) – Shut down Sheberov and you should be golden, right? Wrong. Weyrauch has been a racking up the points this season, as well. However, hold Weyrauch in check, and good things may happen. He’s failed to pick up a point just three times this season, but all in Superior losses, just like Sheberov.
3. Daniel Benilov (4G, 7A in 10GP) – The RoughRiders have some size on their roster, but no one comes close to matching Benilov’s stature. The 20-year-old defenseman from Lithuania stands at 6’7”, weighing in at 240 lbs. He’s the tallest defensemen in the league, and has some of the most experience as well. He has played for Lithuania U18 and U20 in the World Juniors.
Friday, October 27 at 7:15pm (6:15pm AZ time) - @ Superior
Saturday, October 28 at 7:15pm (6:15pm AZ time) - @ Superior
Sunday, October 29 at 1:30pm (12:30pm AZ time) - @ Superior
Friday, November 3 at 7pm – vs. San Diego
Saturday, November 4 at 7pm – vs. San Diego
Sunday, November 5 at 1pm – vs. San Diego
Friday, November 10 at 7:45pm - @ San Diego
Saturday, November 11 at 8:15pm - @ San Diego
Sunday, November 12 at 12pm - @ San Diego