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Knights and Sabers Face Off in Gilbert

11/03/2017, 8:15am MST
By Steven Force

The Knights are back at home this weekend for a series against the San Diego Sabers.  This weekend features the first of 12 matchups this season between the two teams this season, including six games over the next two weekends.

Phoenix is coming into this series after a pair of heartbreaking overtime losses to the Superior RoughRiders last weekend.  The two overtime losses gave the Knights their first points on the year, but are still looking for their first victory. 

 

Up Next: San Diego Sabers

San Diego is in a similar boat as the Knights through the first month or so of the regular season.  The Sabers and Knights are tied at the bottom of the Western Division with two points each, although San Diego’s two points came in the form of a 3-1 win over Fresno in mid-October.  The 1-11-0 Sabers are coming off a difficult weekend in El Paso, one of the hardest places to play in the WSHL, where they got swept in the three game series.  In those three games, the Sabers were outscored 33-2 by the Midwest Division powerhouse. 

 

Special Teams

The Knights have had difficulty capitalizing on the power play this season.  Through their first 15 games, they’re 8-for-78 (10.3%) which is good for 22nd in the league.  Their PK unit has been better as of late, however.  After a rough start to the year, the penalty kill is now 55-for-69 (79.7%) which is 13th in the WSHL.

San Diego has had their troubles on special teams this season, as well.  Their power play is just slightly better than Phoenix’s.  The Sabers are 6-for-55 (10.9%, 21st in the WSHL) on the man advantage.  Their PK unit is 28-for-40 (70.0%, 19th in WSHL).

 

Players to Watch

Phoenix:

1. Dima Gnitko (1G, 3A in 12GP) – Gnitko is picking up his production as of late.  The 16-year-old Latvian forward has not looked out of place in his first season of junior hockey, and the points started coming last weekend.  He’s on a three-game point streak heading into the series against San Diego, and finds himself with the fifth-most points on the team.

2. Nolan Twerdoclib (1G, 2A in 14GP) – The points will come for Twerdoclib.  His work ethic has defined him up to this point in the season, and if that continues, he’ll find himself on the scoresheet at the end of the night more times than not.  Twerdoclib was also featured in this week’s episode of “Hard Day’s Knight” which you can watch here.

3. Michael Caravella (0G, 7A in 15GP) – Through the first nine games of the season, Caravella had just one assist.  Since then, he has six points in six games, including a two-assist night that got the recent upswing going in Fresno on October 19.  In six career games against the San Diego Sabers, Caravella has a goal and two assists.

San Diego:

1. David Grindstaff (3G, 4A in 11GP) – The 18-year-old forward from Sacramento, California is playing his first season of junior hockey, and is leading the Sabers in scoring through the team’s first 12 games of the season.  Two of his three goals came in San Diego’s lone win against the Fresno Monsters earlier this season.

2. Karel Kankovsky (2G, 2A in 12GP) – Kankovsky is tied for 2nd on the team in points this season, but has had trouble staying out of the box.  The Sabers as a team have only 117 PIM (compared to Phoenix’s 309) and Kankovsky has 24 of those.  The 19-year-old defenseman is originally from Czech Republic, but played for high school hockey for St. John Bosco High School the past two seasons.

3. Cole Parker (1G, 2A in 12GP) – One of the lone returners from last year’s San Diego Sabers has already matched his point total from his rookie season in 2016-17.  Parker, who will turn 17 on November 9, played in just two games against the Knights last season.  In those games, he didn’t pick up any points, but did have 2 PIM to his name.

Upcoming Schedule

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 7:15pm (8:15pm AZ time) - @ San Diego

Saturday, November 11 at 7:45pm (8:45pm AZ time) - @ San Diego

Sunday, November 12 at 11:30am (12:30pm AZ time) - @ San Diego

Friday, November 17 at 7pm – vs. Fresno

Saturday, November 18 at 7pm – vs. Fresno

Sunday, November 19 at 1pm – vs. Fresno

Tag(s): Coaching Staff  Contact Us  Phoenix Knights