By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
It’s all about newness in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where there is a new head coach, a new general manager and a whole new crew of NCDC players. The Knights were a first-year team last year, but the team ownership and management don’t accept finishing sixth in the Atlantic Division.
As a result, the team bid farewell to all of their past players and their former head coach, and went out and brought in a new hockey operations group to hit the reset button at the NCDC level. Longtime junior coach and scout Nick Perri was hired as the new General Manager and the team welcomed Terry Watt as the new head coach.
Together, these two embarked on a mission to create the very best Knights team they could envision, starting with the April NCDC Entry Draft and continuing through the long off-season.
“We are excited about this group of Knights. It is a younger roster with a lot of exciting USHL and D-1 prospects. We are fast, skilled, and gritty,” said Perri. “This year’s group is much younger than one year ago. We have a lot of hungry players who are driven to earn commitments. We like our team speed and skill, along with the team’s compete level.”
Although the Knights will see a completely new NCDC roster this year, that doesn’t mean all players are new to the organization. They welcomed some top former Premier Knights, who helped WBS make a second straight trip to Nationals in as many seasons of existence in that league. USPHL Premier Atlantic Division All-Star goaltender Tade Carman and All-Star forwards Aidan Darlington and Justin Ryan will make the jump.
Carman’s .938 save percentage was second in the entire USPHL Premier last season, while Darlington posted 43 points in the regular season and 12 points in nine playoff games. Ryan was the 2022-23 Premier team’s leading scorer with 73 points in 44 games and he added 10 points in the nine-game postseason run.
Even with his great resume, Carman will certainly have to fight for his time in net in a great competition with Ty Levy. The ‘06 who last played with the Rockets Hockey Club 16U team and his USHL rights belong to Tri-City. The Storm recently called up Levy to play in their regular season-opening USHL Fall Classic games in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“Ty is an exciting addition in net,” added Perri.
On the blue line in front of the goaltenders will be some exciting newcomers including Spencer Gallant, Andrew Piccirillo and Quintin Filizetti. Gallant is an ‘03 who last played in the CCHL with the Hawkesbury Hawks, Piccirillo joins from the Maine Nordiques AAA team and Filizetti is from the Cleveland Barons AAA squad.
Up front are Sacha Trudel and Justin Ouellette, two former CCHL players.
“We are very excited about the additions of Sacha and Justin,” added Perri. “Both players are already receiving interest from colleges.”
The Knights are excited to get back to the swing of games and will work to improve to an even better spot in the Atlantic Division. That said, that is not the overall mission.
“We expect to compete for a playoff spot, but our hopes are to develop our young group and produce USHL and NCAA Division I talent,” Perri said. “The Atlantic Division is always a gauntlet and we expect no less this season.”