The Knights return to AZ Ice Gilbert this weekend to face off against a potential playoff opponent, the Valencia Flyers. Phoenix is coming off a series in Fresno, where the Knights won the opener before dropping the next two to the Monsters. Coming into this weekend, Phoenix is fifth in the Western Division, nine points behind Fresno and Valencia who are tied in the 3rd & 4th spots in the division.
Up Next: Valencia Flyers
This is a very different looking Valencia team than the one Phoenix faced less than a month ago. The Flyers, in what is a disappointing season to their standards, have been active as we approach the WSHL Trade Deadline. First, Valencia traded goaltender Spencer Kozlowski to the division-rival Long Beach Bombers. Then, the Flyers sent the league’s all-time assist leader Jakob Kranabetter, Nikita Pintusov and Christopher Westover to El Paso in exchange for Nicholas Hames and Lukas Moravsky. They still weren’t finished, trading Dawson Keay to Colorado on Tuesday, and getting Hudson Kubasek, Cameron Tobey and Jacob Yoho in return.
After trading three of their top scorers, as well as their #1 goaltender, the Flyers will be looking for a new identity this weekend when they come to AZ Ice Gilbert.
WSHL Trade Deadline
The Flyers aren’t the only ones making moves before next Tuesday’s trade deadline. Other trades around the league include Ontario sending defenseman Adam Cech to Oklahoma City, and Colorado acquiring Tom Ignatovich and Tyler Goclan from Seattle. For more on the trades, and what to watch for leading up to the deadline, click here to listen to the newest episode of our podcast.
Players to Watch
1. Michael Caravella (10G, 29A in 37GP) – The captain had his best game in his Knights’ career last week against the Monsters. His five-point performance (1G, 4A) in Thursday’s win was his 10th multi-point game this season, while also being the beginning of an active three-game point streak entering this weekend series.
2. Jeffrey Solomon (4G, 7A in 35GP) – Solomon has been getting time on the wing alongside Caravella and Anthony Masanotti for the past few series, and his offensive game has responded well. He had a goal and two assists against Fresno last weekend, with all three points coming in Phoenix’s win on Thursday night. In the last series against the Flyers, Solomon dropped the gloves with Jacob Ulestig of Valencia just 11 seconds into the first period of a game.
3. Brennan Smith (0G, 10A in 38GP) – Smith has been getting the puck to the net, but hasn’t gotten the shots from the point to amount to any goals for himself. Scoring from the blue-line hasn’t been Phoenix’s strong suit this season, but Smith has the ability to change that.
1. Jason Hickman (17G, 33A in 33GP) – With the trades made by Valencia, Hickman is now the team’s leading scorer, and will have to face the other team’s best shutdown lines. It’s a chance to show if he can still score at the rate he has, even with the tougher matchups. In five games against the Knights this season, he has three goals and six assists.
2. Dylan San Agustin (15G, 14A in 24GP) – His point-total would probably be higher if he hadn’t missed a chunk of games in November and December. San Agustin had a hat-trick against the Knights on Phoenix’s opening night in September, and has a total of four goals and two assists against the Knights in four games this season.
3. Mack Willy (0-1-0, 5.00 GAA, 0.878 SV%) – After trading Spencer Kozlowski to Long Beach, the Flyers picked up goaltender Mack Willy to take his spot. Willy, a 19-year-old from Tacoma, WA, was playing for the Great Falls Americans of the NA3HL before coming to Valencia. In his debut with the Flyers last weekend, Willy saved 36 of 41 shots in a 5-4 loss to Long Beach.
Friday, February 9 at 7pm – vs. Valencia
Saturday, February 10 at 7pm – vs. Valencia
Sunday, February 11 at 1pm – vs. Valencia
Friday, February 23 at 7pm – vs. San Diego
Saturday, February 24 at 7pm – vs. San Diego
Sunday, February 25 at 1pm – vs. San Diego (final regular-season home game)
Thursday, March 1 at 7:45pm (8:45pm AZ time) - @ Long Beach
Friday, March 2 at 7:45pm (8:45pm AZ time) - @ Long Beach
Saturday, March 3 at 6:15pm (7:15pm AZ time) - @ Long Beach
End of Regular Season