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Knights jockey for playoff position

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

Omaha, NE – The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights will have a chance to secure first place overall in the Western Conference when they take to the ice for the final four games of the regular season this week.

The Knights earned seven out of a possible eight points last week to challenge the Manitoba Moose for the top spot. Omaha is now 46-24-5-1 following wins over Iowa, Manitoba and San Antonio and an overtime loss to Houston.

With 98 points, the Knights are just two points behind Manitoba with two games in hand. They are also just one point ahead of second-place Chicago with a game in hand. The Knights will host San Antonio on Tuesday and Peoria on Friday to conclude the home half of their schedule. They’ll finish the season in Peoria on Saturday and in Chicago on Sunday.

LAST WEEK''S RESULTS:

Tuesday, April 3: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 2, Iowa Stars 1

In the final meeting of the regular season, the Knights snapped a scoreless tie 13 seconds into the second period when Tomi Maki knocked in the rebound of a shot by Brad Ference. The Knights stretched their last to 2-0 when Kris Chucko slipped home the rebound of a shot by Carsen Germyn at 8:56. Iowa’s Junior Lessard would get a powerplay goal at 11:24 of the third period to close the gap to 2-1. But Curtis McElhinney would stop everything else thrown his way to earn his 30th win of the year.

Wednesday, April 4: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 3, Manitoba Moose 2

The Knights forged ahead at 8:04 of the first period when David Van der Gulik banked the puck in off of a Manitoba defender. The Moose answered back with a powerplay goal from Brad Moran with one minute remaining in the first period. Van der Gulik put the Knights back in front when he tipped in a shot by Warren Peters at 18:10 of the second period. The Knights moved ahead 3-1 early in the third when Van der Gulik completed the hat trick by jamming in the rebound of a shot by Tim Ramholt. Dustin Wood scored late in the third for Manitoba to close the scoring. Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots for the win.

Friday, April 6: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 1, San Antonio Rampage 0

The Rampage outshot the Knights 7-0 to start the game, but the Knights would enjoy a 33-5 shot advantage for the remainder of the game. If not for the work of San Antonio’s Josh Tordjman, the result could have been much different. The Knights got the only goal they would need when Carsen Germyn fired home a powerplay goal at 18:18 of the first period. Dustin Boyd and Andrei Taratukhin assisted. Curtis McElhinney made 12 saves to earn the win.

Saturday, April 7: Houston Aeros 1, Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 0 OT

The Knights were blanked for the seventh time this season in their last meeting of the year with Houston. Again, they ran into a hot goaltender from a team not bound for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Tony Quesada held the fort, stopping all 41 shots fired his way including 31 during the last two periods and overtime. Defenseman Curtis Murphy ended the game when he converted a pass from Jason Morgan with just 37 seconds remaining in overtime. Curtis McElhinney took the loss with 18 saves.

CCM VECTOR/AHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOMINEE:

The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights nominated goaltender Curtis McElhinney as the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the week ending April 8, 2007. McElhinney played all four games last week, posting a record of 3-1-0, a 0.98 goals-against average and a 0.952 save percentage. On Tuesday, McElhinney made 26 saves and allowed one goal in a 2-1 win at Iowa. The next night, he stopped 24 of 26 shots in a 3-2 win over Manitoba. On Friday, the native of London, Ontario stopped all 12 shots he faced in a 1-0 shutout win over San Antonio. He finished the week making 18 saves and allowing one goal in a 1-0 overtime loss to Houston. McElhinney now ranks second in the AHL in goals against average (2.16) and third in wins (32). The shutout win over San Antonio moved him into a tie for first in shutouts (7). In addition, he has played in 15 other games in which he has allowed just one goal.

AK-SAR-BEN KNIGHTS BASICS

RECORD: 46-24-5-1
POWERPLAY: 64/424, 15.1%
VS. DIV.: 35-17-5-1
HOME: 21-15-2-0
PENALTY KILL: 363/419, 86.6%
ROAD: 25-9-3-1
LAST TEN: 7-2-1-0
STREAK: 3-0-1-0

OPPONENTS THIS WEEK:

Tuesday, April 10 vs. San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix Coyotes)
Tenth of ten meetings; fifth of five meetings in Omaha


The Knights and Rampage finally play a game that was originally scheduled for December 22nd. The game was postponed because of weather. It’s also the last game of the season series. The Knights are 6-2-1-0 against the Rampage following a 1-0 win last Friday. That includes a record of 3-1-0-0 at home. All time, the Knights hold the advantage at 12-5-1-1. San Antonio begins the week in sixth place in the West Division with a record of 31-40-2-4, good for 68 points. The Rampage are 12-23-1-2 on the road this year. Yanick Lehoux leads the Rampage in scoring with 31 goals and 40 assists for 71 points. His goal and assist totals are also team bests. Josh Tordjman and David LeNeveu share the goaltending duties. Tordjman is 15-17-2 with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. San Antonio does not play before visiting the Knights.

Friday, April 13 vs. Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues)
Saturday, April 14 @ Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues)
Ninth and tenth of ten meetings; fifth of five meetings in Omaha and Peoria, IL


The Knights play a home-and-home series with the Rivermen to conclude their season series. The Knights are 1-5-2-0 against Peoria this season and 0-4-0-0 against them at home. They are 1-1-2-0 at Carver Arena in Peoria. All time, the Knights are just 3-11-3-1 against Peoria. The Rivermen enter the final week of the regular season still battling for a playoff spot. They are in fifth place with a record of 36-32-2-6, good for 80 points. That puts them four points behind Iowa in the West and three behind Grand Rapids in the North. Trent Whitfield leads the team in scoring with 32 goals and 44 assists for 76 points. The goal and assist totals are also team bests. Rookie Marek Schwarz leads Peoria’s goaltending corps with a record of 19-13-0. The Rivermen host Milwaukee on Wednesday before visiting Omaha.

Sunday, April 15 @ Chicago Wolves (Atlanta Thrashers)
Tenth of ten meetings; fifth of five meetings in Chicago, IL


The Knights finish the regular season with the Wolves. The Knights are 3-5-1-0 against the Wolves this season including a record of 3-1-0-0 in Chicago. All time, the Knights are 8-10-1-0 against the Wolves. Chicago begins the week in second place in the West Division with a record of 44-24-3-6, good for 97 points. They trail the Knights by just one point, but they’ve played one more game. Darren Haydar leads the Wolves and the entire AHL in scoring with 39 goals and 77 assists for 116 points in 70 games. Rookie Brett Sterling is second with 93 points including a team- and AHL-leading 52 goals. Fred Brathwaite and Michael Garnett share time in the Wolves’ net. Brathwaite has 21 wins while Garnett has 22. Brathwaite has a team-best 2.81 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. The Wolves visit Milwaukee on Friday and host Iowa on Saturday before welcoming the Knights.

KNIGHTS NOTES:

Right wing Carsen Germyn is now tied for the AHL lead with nine game-winning goals.

Center Andrei Taratukhin set a new franchise record with his 43rd assist in the Knights’ 1-0 win over San Antonio. He also became the first Knights’ player to reach 60 points.

The Knights set a new franchise record for fewest shots allowed when they surrendered only 12 to San Antonio in a 1-0 win on Friday. The previous record was 13. The one shot allowed to the Rampage in the second period tied a franchise record.

The Knights have not allowed a second-period goal in the last eight games.

TRANSACTIONS:

4/6/07 DELETE Chris Neiszner (C), re-assigned on loan to Las Vegas (ECHL)

For player stats during the 2005-06 season, please visit the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knight's roster page by clicking here.

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