The regular season comes to an end this weekend as the Knights travel to Long Beach to face the Bombers. The Knights enter this series having won their last six games, sweeping Valencia and San Diego to close out the home portion of their 2017-18 regular season schedule. Phoenix will have a week off after the three games against Long Beach to prepare for the first round of the Thorne Cup Playoffs.
Phoenix is tied with Valencia in points with 48, but the Flyers currently have three games in hand. Although it’s not definite, it appears Phoenix’s first-round matchup will be against Valencia. The only question now, is whether it’ll be in Valencia or in Gilbert. The Flyers will be in San Diego this weekend for a three-game set against the Sabers.
Up Next: Long Beach Bombers
After starting the year 15-0-0, it appeared that this series in early March was going to be just a formality for the Bombers as they got ready for another run at the Thorne Cup. Instead, they find themselves in the middle of an exciting race at the top of the division. Long Beach has since gone 15-11-4, including 5-5-1 in their last 11 games, allowing hot streaks from Ontario and Fresno to tighten up the standings. Ontario and Long Beach enter the weekend tied with 64 points, and Fresno’s not too far behind with 57.
Prior to Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Valencia, the Bombers were 1-4-0 in their last five games, all coming against Ontario and Fresno. They’ll be looking to re-gain the top spot in the Western Division, ensuring them home-ice, where they’re 17-1-1 this season, for the entirety of the divisional rounds of the playoffs.
Players to Watch
1. Anthony Masanotti (40G, 16A in 48GP) – Masanotti is the first 40-goal scorer in Phoenix Knights history. Since setting the single-season goal record in early February, he slowed down offensively, picking up just one goal and two assists over the next five games. That changed during the San Diego series last weekend, when he picked up a pair of two-goal games in Saturday and Sunday.
2. Ian McCollum (18G, 11A in 21GP) – McCollum is on a 14-game point streak, dating back to mid-January. Over that stretch he has 15 goals and nine assists. To add to that, McCollum has registered at least one point in 17 of the 21 games he’s played in since coming over from El Paso.
3. Michael Caravella (13G, 38A in 43GP) – Caravella is on a nine-game point streak that all started with his five-point performance in Fresno in early February. Over his last nine games, the Knights captain has five goals and 14 assists. In what could have been his final games at AZ Ice Gilbert, depending on if the Knights host a playoff series, Caravella had a goal and four assists to help lead the Knights to a sweep of the Sabers.
1. Miroslav Rohlik (37G, 38A in 44GP) – Rohlik is Long Beach’s top goal scorer and is tied for the team lead in points. After a hot streak to start the second half of the season, when he had 11 goals and 11 assists in 11 games, he’s managed only two goals and two assists in the team’s past six games. With the playoffs around the corner, the Bombers will be hoping for Rohlik to find his scoring touch again over the next few games.
2. Tomas Urbanec (35G, 40A in 45GP) – Urbanec just turned 19-years-old, and is already in his fourth season with the Bombers. He had a bit of a down year last season, but has come back strong and is tied for the team lead in points. He’s picked up points in 15 of the Bombers’ last 16 games, including five points in his last three games.
3. Joel Larsson (0G, 0A in 1GP) – The Bombers picked up Joel Larsson at the deadline a few weeks ago, and he just played his first game back with Long Beach this past Tuesday against Valencia. Larsson was with the Bombers from 2015-17, when he had 44 goals and 82 assists over 114 games. The 20-year-old Swedish forward helps bolster the Bombers’ attack, and will want to get back on the scoresheet for Long Beach this weekend.
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