It is rare that I ever reference my real job here on the blog or anywhere in social media.
I’ll remember the following exchange with one of my supervisors for the rest of my life.
After losing last Wednesday, 2-1 in overtime and facing a potential sweep by the regular season champion Providence Bruins on Friday, he pokes his head into my office. Here’s how it went:
Him: “So how did the (Wilkes-Barre / Scranton)** Penguins do last night?”
Me: “Lost 2-1 in overtime, are down 0-3 in the series”
Him: “Don’t worry, it’ll just make coming back from down three games all the more sweeter.”
At first I laughed off his prophecy.
There’s a reason he has a corner office and I, a simple row one.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have made history tonight.
Never before in AHL history, with a team down 0-3 in a series, has a club rattled off four straight wins with the fourth and final one coming on the road.
It happened tonight.
The Penguins win this game 5-0 and are off to play the Syracuse Crunch for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the Calder Cup Final.
While a tremendously historic feat, one that may not be accomplished for another 70+ years of AHL history, I am even keel as I sit and write this postgame blog recap.
Calder Cup or get out of my face. If the Penguins get dismissed by the Crunch next round or in the Cup Finals, the fact that the Penguins did what they did tonight will be nothing but a footnote to whoever it is that wins the Calder Cup this year.
Tom Grace had a quote on Brad Thiessen I shared on Twitter. It went like this:
Thiessen’s numbers? .986 save percentage, 0.70 goals against. Two shutouts, 177 saves on 181 shots.
After falling behind three games to none, Wilkes-Barre outscored the Bruins 14-2 the rest of the way.
Something magical is brewing, pardon the obvious pun.
The Penguins did their damage in the second period of this game.
With the score tied 0-0 at the end of twenty minutes and the Penguins being outshot 11-5 by the Bruins, the Penguins opened the second period and quickly found themselves on a power play.
Chad Kolarik takes three shots at goaltender Niklas Svedberg. His initial offering is blocked, he side steps a defender, shoots, collects his own rebound and puts it past a fallen Svedberg for a 1-0 lead.
Later, the Penguins would score on three consecutive shots. The first being a Joey Mormina point shot through a crowd that Warren Peters gets a stick on for a 2-0 lead. Then Adam Payerl snaps a drop pass home for a 3-0 Penguins lead. Prior to this, a Chris Collins centering bid by Brian Gibbons almost made it 3-0 but the Penguins were on the come regardless. Then Dominik Uher, in for Dylan Reese and making his series debut, chips a puck out of the defensive zone and up ice. He dumps it deep, centers to Payerl who drops to Zach Sill who makes it 4-0 Penguins.
At this point the rout was on.
Providence would come out in the third with Michael Hutchinson in goal but it would not matter. The Pens would drop back into full on prevent defense. To the Bruins credit, they threw everything they had at Thiessen, but could not get one past him. Trevor Smith scores late on a drop pass by Chad Kolarik to make it 5-0 to ice it.
Mentioned on radio that Head Coach John Hynes broke down every single shift (emphasis added) from Game 6. Adjustments were made and there is the result.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals open Saturday in Syracuse.
Content wise, the preview for that series will be up Friday at noon.
The schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals looks like this:
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
3-Syracuse Crunch vs. 5-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Sat., May 25 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 26 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 29 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Fri., May 31 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., June 1 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 3 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Wed., June 5 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
I wanted Norfolk last year. That did not happen obviously with the defeat in Game 7 last year to the St. John’s IceCaps, who were swept by the Admirals and went on to win the Calder Cup. That Admirals team reincarnated into this years Syracuse Crunch team who won the East Division and have not lost in the postseason yet this year. I finally have what I wished for last year standing right in front of me, eye to eye.
We have a few days to break it all down. Celebrate the history tonight. We have more games to win.
Let’s Go Pens!!!
** – he used that word I detest.