The Knights put their six-game winning streak to the test this weekend as they travel to Valencia to face the Flyers. This is their first meeting since Phoenix’s opening weekend in Gilbert, when the Flyers took all three games. Phoenix is coming off a three-game sweep on the road against San Diego, and currently sit tied in points with Fresno for the 4-seed in the Western Division.
Up Next: Valencia Flyers
Valencia was off last weekend, so this will be their first action of 2018. The Flyers had a rough showcase week, going just 1-2-0 against the Mountain Division trio of Utah, Colorado and Ogden. Going back to late November, Valencia has won just once in their past six, dropping games to Ontario, Fresno and Long Beach before the showcase. With the recent slide, the Flyers have dropped out of the top two spots in the division, for the first time in a while, and currently sit in third, a single point behind the Ontario Avalanche.
The Knights have gone 14-4-0 since the start of November, and now find themselves in a battle for playoff positioning. They’ve played the most games out of all six Western Division teams, but are just five points out of the #2 seed in the division. Starting this weekend, Phoenix will have a chance to prove they belong in that conversation. They begin a stretch of 12 games against Valencia, Ontario and Fresno, who currently sit in the three spots ahead of the Knights in the standings.
It was also a topic of discussion on this week’s episode of the Phoenix Knights Podcast.
Players to Watch
1. Nolan Twerdoclib (8G, 13A in 31GP) – Twerdoclib is on a seven-game point streak, dating back to the last game of the series against El Paso in December. He picked up his first point as a Knight against the Flyers in the season opener, and the Knights will need him to do more of the same this weekend.
2. Ian McCollum (13G, 6A in 28GP) – McCollum has proven to be another great mid-season pickup by Head Coach/GM Colten St. Clair, acquiring the 18-year-old forward from El Paso before the showcase. He has three goals and two assists in his six games with the Knights, including scoring Phoenix’s 100th goal of the season last Sunday in San Diego.
3. Ashton Richardt (6G, 5A in 31GP) – Richardt had his first multi-goal game as a member of the Knights last weekend in San Diego. Phoenix will need secondary scoring this weekend, and down the stretch, so a confident, goal-scoring Richardt could be a difference maker.
1. Jakob Kranabetter (17G, 52A in 25GP) – Kranabetter is chasing history. He’s just five assists away from becoming the league’s all-time leader in assists, and 32 points from owning the all-time points leader record as well. He’s been held without a point just four times this season, and once was against the Knights in September.
2. Nikita Pintusov (25G, 13A in 23GP) – Valencia’s leading goal scorer played in Las Vegas last season with Knights goaltender Rhett Bruckner, so both should know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. He had two goals and two assists against Phoenix earlier this season, before Bruckner joined the Knights.
3. Dawson Keay (19G, 23A in 26GP) – Keay is second on the team in both goals and points, but was the offensive leader when these two teams met up earlier this season. In the three-game series, Keay had six goals and three assists to lead the Flyers to the sweep.
Thursday, January 11 at 7:15pm (8:15pm AZ time) - @ Valencia
Friday, January 12 at 7:15pm (8:15pm AZ time) - @ Valencia
Saturday, January 13 at 7:15pm (8:15pm AZ time) - @ Valencia
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