A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
December 4, 2022Posted by on
No, you read the headline and score right. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins laid seven goals on the Hershey Bears Sunday afternoon, beating the Bears 7-3.
Hershey had a five game win streak coming into the game Sunday, in those seven games the Bears allowed just seven goals by the opposition. After looking lost Saturday against the Bridgeport Islanders, the Penguins come to Hershey and wallop the Bears with a seven spot.
Hockey is a funny game.
It wasn’t all rainbows and roses for the Penguins. They lost Alex Nylander and Sam Poulin to injury.
Filip Lindberg opposed Zach Fucale.
Pens didn’t post any lines. Alex Nylander was back after a “maintenance day” from Saturday. Jack St. Ivany was out for Mitch Reinke on defense.
Hershey lined up this way:
First Period: Two of the best defensive teams in the AHL so of course there was an explosion of goals for both sides.
Hershey gets the scoring started with Sam Anas playing a give and go for a goal to put the Bears on top 1-0.
Filip Hållander nearly scored a goal while killing apenlaty but at the expiration of the penalty he stays on and scores to tie the game at 1.
But, as the theme of the period will reveal itself, the Bears respond to the adversity that the Penguins throw at them.
On a 5-on-3 power play, Hendrix Lapierre scores to make it 2-1.
But then Alex Nylander plays some give and go of his own to tie the game at two.
So at this point you think that they will stay in lockstep with the Bears. But then Mike Vecchione picks off a Penguin player and then goes up top on Lindberg to make it 3-2.
Boffo turnover but a shot that should have been stopped in my opinion.
Shots were 15-6 Penguins. Bears score three goals on six shots. 😬
Second Period: I mean I am going to give you all the goals as they came in this period.
Valtteri Puustinen seconds into a power play and it’s a tie game.
Mitch Reinke pinches for his second point of the contest and scores to make it 4-3 Penguins.
Drew O’Connor on a two-on-one and the Pens started pouring it on and it’s 5-3.
Jonathan Gruden and it’s 6-3. A little stare down with some of the Hershey faithful after the goal.
Tyler Sikura adds the extra point and chases Zach Fucale and it’s 7-3.
Bears signed Justin Kapelmater to a PTO as a backup goaltender as Hunter Shepard was unavailable for the game. He seemed to settle things down for the Bears because the onslaught of Penguins goals stopped.
One note from the period, Sam Poulin was missing with what was probably a knock picked up in the first period as Nick Hart didn’t see him take his regular shift early on in the second period.
Third Period: No scoring. Pens lost Alex Nylander to injury this period and Sam Poulin didn’t return.
Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal, assist) 2) Mitch Reinke (goal, assist) 1) Drew O’Connor (goal, three assists)
The Good: Not many teams beat Hershey in Hershey and fewer put seven past their goaltender. Credit the Penguins for sticking to the game plan, which was clearly working despite the deficit at the end of the first period, and never giving in and turning the game into a runaway.
The Bad: I didn’t like that Vecchione goal. But the Penguins put seven in Hershey, so it doesn’t really matter in the end.
Turning Point: Mitch Reinke pinching in and getting himself a goal that gave the Penguins the lead for good gets the nod here.
Standings: Providence 33 — Hershey and Bridgeport 30 — Charlotte 27 — Penguins 25 — Lehigh Valley 20 — Springfield 20 — Hartford 15
Wheeling Update: Nailers in action at home against Toledo. They started later. Here’s the box.
Also, O’Connor got some recognition from the League with his offensive display Sunday.
Off until a Friday game at home with Cleveland, the Penguins only action of the weekend.
Let’s Go Pens!
December 3, 2022Posted by on
It was Hall of Fame night for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins with Steve Barrouk, Tom Grace and Tom Kostopoulos being enshrined in the Penguins Hall, but the team on the ice played nothing like it, getting obliterated 5-1 by the Bridgeport Islanders.
The Islanders are a good team. You knew that if you read the Weekend Setup. They lost just three games in regulation coming into Saturday. Just three. It was going to take a heck of an effort to beat the visitors. After a scoreless first, it looked like it was going to be a close contest. But a few minutes into the second and Bridgeport started rolling down hill and never looked back.
I don’t want to say it’s a problem yet. But if they lose to Hershey Sunday then go on to beat Cleveland next Friday (like they always do) then go on to lose again to Hershey in back to backs two weeks from now, we may be onto something.
Dustin Tokarski opposed Cory Scheneider.
Here’s how Wilkes-Barre lined up:
Bridgeport didn’t post lines.
Lineup Notes: Mark Friedman was back after his illness. The Penguins sent Colin Swoyer to the ECHL Saturday morning. Alex Nylander wasn’t listed among the injured but was a scratch. My thought is he caught what Friedman had. I’ll listen to Hart pregame Sunday in Hershey if Nylander isn’t back and update appropriately.
First Period: No scoring. Pens had a late power play and a good chunk of the chances.
Second Period: Complete reversal of the first. Islanders jump on the Penguins for three goals in under ten minutes. Ruslan Iskhakov gets some daylight and scores a five hole goal on Tokarski to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
Not a good goal to give up.
A little over a minute later. Collin Adams scores to double the visitors lead.
Andy Andreoff scores a deflection goal and the rout was on and it was 3-0 Islanders.
At this point I think that Tokarski should have been pulled. Some said to me that he should her been yanked after the second goal, but I think he should have been given the hook after that Andreoff deflection goal. No GIF of it by the way.
Penguins could have jumped back into it with a power play. I don’t think I have ever seen a kill ike Bridgeport’s. They sit back, concede possession, and block everything. It’s frustrating because you have all the zone time, but you don’t get anything out of it.
Third Period: William Dufour scores appropriately the fourth goal of the game for the Islanders.
Bouncing puck that isn’t totally controlled by the goaltender and it ends up in the net. Just a boffo goal to give up under any circumstance.
Another Penguins power play and you could have thrown 25 pucks at the ent at the same time and Cory Schneider would have stopped them all.
After another Bridgeport kill, Chris Terry makes it 5-0.
Penguins finally get on the board with a goal by Nathan Legare.
Three Stars: 3) Collin Adams (goal) 2) Chris Terry (goal, two assists) 1) Cory Schneider (32 saves)
The Good: Steve Barrouk didn’t implode the arena he helped build after that showing by the main tenant from the last 20+ years.
The Bad: You’re going to be doing a lot of of out of town scoreboard watching if they continue to stink out the place like they did tonight. Sure, they had points in five straight games coming into Saturday, but Bridgeport has the looks of an elite team.
Turning Point: That goofy Andreoff deflection goal sucked out all the good vibes in the arena after the Hall of Fame ceremonies.
Standings: Providence 31 — Hershey 30 — Bridgeport 30 — Charlotte 27 — Penguins 23 — Lehigh Valley 20 — Springfield 18 — Hartford 15
Wheeling Update: Nailers beat Fort Wayne at home 4-2. Tommy Nappier from THEE Ohio State University with the win for the Nailers, stopping 26. Colin Swoyer with an assist.
Back at it at 3 on Sunday with the Bears.
Let’s Go Pens!
December 2, 2022Posted by on
After an odd scheduling and the Thanksgiving holiday and even more odd scheduling, the Weekend Preview is back and marginally better than ever with a look at the weekends games for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins against the Bridgeport Islanders and the Hershey Bears.
After a hellish schedule bit, 7 games in 12 days (including a trip to Charlotte, NC), the Penguins get a bit of a break from the schedule makers with just 5 games in the next 15 days with four of them at home and just one on the road (a 90 minute trip to Hershey, this Sunday)
So you take it. Rest, recover, work on things. I know I am going to enjoy this Friday off and next Saturday. That is for sure.
Music to set the mood…
This weekend, the Penguins will honor Tom Grace, Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Barrouk with enshrinement in the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Hall of Fame.
Grace was a guy you either loved or hated. I don’t think there was any in between. Grace did a lot in getting the Penguins out there to the masses. Who remembers the radio shows on Thursday’s at the Grotto? Grace’s enshrinement is overdue in my opinion. He should have been in sooner.
You don’t need me to introduce Tom Kostopoulos. If there’s a Mt. Rushmore of players he and Dennis Bonvie are on it.
Steve Barrouk was one of the pillars of the community who without, Penguins hockey in the Wyoming Valley isn’t a guaranteed reality.
I’m not a suit and tie kind of guy. I wear a suit once a year, for the Hall of Fame, or if I have to go to a funeral or something. It’s just not me.
If you can guess who said it (no cheating) leave me the answer in the comments. Provided I remember if no one guesses right, I’ll reveal the answer next week.
Fairly straightforward with a game against the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday and a road trip down to Hershey.
Bridgeport is one of two teams, Providence being the other, who have just three regulation losses so far this season. In the entire AHL. If the Atlantic Division didn’t have so many heavyweight teams (Hershey and the Bruins being the others) they would easy lead the division. Bridgeport’s 28 points is 5 better than first place in the North’s Toronto Marlies.
Hell, the Penguins, in fifth coming into Friday, have 23 points. You are going to have to be really good to contend in this division this year, it seems.
Hershey needs no introduction.
The Islanders have points in six straight, and beat the Providence Bruins 4-3 on Wednesday.
Hershey, after beating the Pens in comeback fashion via shootout Tuesday, beat Lehigh Valley in Allentown 4-2. With the win they became the top team in the AHL. It appears the Big Bear Machine is warming up.
Neither team will be in action until they play the Pens, so that means Hershey is off Friday and Saturday, Bridgeport is off Friday.
Coming into Friday, Hershey is tops in the division with a 14-4-2-0 record with 30 points. Bridgeport is 12-3-4-0 good for 28 points and third in the division. The Pens are 10-5-1-2 and have 23 points in fifth in the Atlantic Division.
Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Out?
No one from Wheeling. No one in Pittsburgh. Kris Letang had another stroke, so it’ll give a cap strapped Penguins team the availability to put Letang on long term IR and make moves if they have to.
Jordan Frasca and Jamie Devane remain out. Taylor Fedun is partially banged up, in and out of the lineup and Mark Friedman was out sick Tuesday against the Bears.
Who’s in Goal?
I’d go Dustin Tokarski in both games, he’s been that good, but what do you do with Filip Lindberg? So expect Lindberg to get a game, probably Sunday in Hershey.
For the opposition expect Corey Schneider for the Islanders and Hunter Shepard for the Bears.
Who’s running the show?
Stephen Hiff and Mike Dietrich will run things Saturday and Jud Ritter and Kirsten Welsh will rule on icings and offsides.
On Sunday Hiff will follow the Penguins to Hershey and meet up with Carter Sandlak, Kirsten Welsh will as well to meet up with her counterpart on the lines, Joseph Mahon.
A lonely Friday home game against the Cleveland Monsters. In retrospect, I should have lumped the Monsters in with this Preview, but I can use the traffic next week. I hear the blog is big in Avon Lake.
Give us a bold prediction…
After three straight overtime games for the Penguins, every game this weekend will be decided in regulation.
November 29, 2022Posted by on
Amassing points is fine, but here’s what happened with this 3-2 shootout loss at the hands of the Hershey Bears Tuesday night.
– Wilkes-Barre goes up 1-0 1:09 into the game.
– Then 2-0 a few minutes later.
– GIANT Center was a graveyard. The Bears were lifeless.
– Bears get level with two goals.
– Pens are gift wrapped a 5:00 power play to open the third period and score.
– But Hershey scores again.
– Wilkes-Barre doesn’t do anything with possession with the puck in overtime.
– Hershey wins in shootout, scoring the only goal in the activity.
Seemed like a winnable game, and they let it get away from them. Maybe it’s a game they straight up lose three weeks ago.
I don’t know, just seemed like an unnecessary point to just give away because of a lack of closure by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Tuesday.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Nick Hart mentioned this in the game, but the Bears were the #1 defensive team in the AHL, and the Penguins were the #2 team. Shepard had a 1.69 GAA coming in and Tokarski a 1.70, so a goalie battle was about to ensue one would think.
Lineup wise, Raivins Ansons was out for Lukas Svejkovsky up front and Mark Friedman (sick) was out for Taylor Fedun.
First Period: Pens caught the Bears flat footed and scored two goals. Drake Caggiula just 1:09 in.
Valtteri Puustinen with a tip in front and the Pens were up 2-0.
Hershey finally gets going with a Mason Morelli goal with under five minutes to play to get the Bears on the board.
Second Period: Jake Massie scored to bring the Bears level with the Penguins.
Penguins had more posts hit (2) than shots (1) for most of the period.
Tokarski stayed sharp, however, denying Penguin killer Ethen Frank on a breakaway to keep the score deadlocked at two.
Kale Kessy, who always plays a burr in the saddle type of game, was stirring it up all night, getting into it in the first period with Dustin Tokarski, then in the second period with Drew O’Connor. He was assessed an instigator and a fighting penalty which gave the Penguins a 5:00 power play heading into the…
Third Period: Pens get one, just one, goal on the 5:00 major power play to open the period. Nathan Legare with the goal.
+1 on the pun usage from the folks at Coal Street.
Bears net the tying goal, the third one of the game via a tip, when Mike Vecchione gets one to go past Tokarski for a 3-3 game.
Game fell into a lull where overtime felt inevitable and the feeling became a reality.
Overtime: Pens played either too conservative or too cute with the puck in the overtime period. They had the possession time in their favor but couldn’t manufacture much of anything shot wise. Hershey’s chances were fast and furious, but neither team scored.
Shootout: Third in a row for the Penguins. Sam Anas trips and scores in the bottom of the second. Alex Nylander, Sam Poulin and Drake Caggiula can’t in that order and that’s the ballgame.
Three Stars: 3) Drake Caggiula (goal, assist) 2) Jake Massie (goal, assist) 1) Sam Anas (game winning shootout goal)
The Good: Seems like they have snapped out of their funk and they are gathering points.
The Bad: As I said in the open, this result seemed unnecessary. You would win games when you go up 2-0 and/or are gift wrapped a 5:00 major power play with fresh ice in the final period of a hockey game.
Turning Point: Game seemed like it had a million of them, but that last sequence I gave you above with the Anas goal and the Shepard stop on Caggiula is the one that gets it here.
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Providence 29 – Hershey 28 – Bridgeport 26 – Charlotte 25 – Penguins 23 – Lehigh Valley and Springfield 18 – Hartford 15
Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.
They are off Friday, host Bridgeport Saturday before rematching with the Bears Sunday. Expect more in the way of effort. They were lucky, I think, in getting away with just a point.
Let’s Go Pens!
November 26, 2022Posted by on
They did it Friday, and they repeated the same feat again Saturday. Going down early, battling back late and winning in a shootout. This time 3-2 in a shootout against the Springfield Thunderbirds Saturday.
Seems like they are getting their swagger back too. It doesn’t look like anything can faze this team. They never seem out of it, etc.
Give these loser points to out of division opponents though. They gave a loser point to the Phantoms last night and the Thunderbirds Saturday. These two teams aren’t going anywhere.
Dustin Tokarski, fresh off his 200th AHL win Friday, got the night off and it was Filip Lindberg for the Pens in net against Joel Hofer for the Thunderbirds.
Lineup Notes: Corey Andonovski for Lukas Svejkovsky up front, Jon Lizotte for Taylor Fedun on defense.
First Period: Teams traded power plays but no scoring. There were an eye popping 27 shots recorded on net in the period (14 for the home team, 13 for the visitors) and one of them went in for the Thunderbirds with Hugh McGing scoring with under a minute to play with a shot. Seemed like a blown defensive coverage with a lot of standing around and pointing.
Second Period: Pens tie it on a Sam Poulin goal off of a face-off on a tip of a Lizotte shot…
But then Springfield ties it again in the final minute of the period. Will Bitten.
Third Period: I guess the way to beat the Penguins is to go up three or more goals on them because if you let them hang around they will find a way.
Valtteri Puustinen gets a glint of daylight and scores. Tie game.
That’s enough to get them to…
Overtime: Probably the most exciting one to date. Multiple chances for the Penguins to score. They couldn’t and neither could Springfield, so it was off to a…
Shootout: Both sides score in the first. No one scores in the second and Sam Poulin scores in the bottom of the third to win it for the Pens and takeaway two points from Springfield.
Three Stars: 3) Hugh McGing (goal) 2) Filip Lindberg (33 saves) 1) Sam Poulin (goal, shootout winning goal)
The Good: They never seem out of it.
The Bad: Yeah, the Cardiac Penguins are soooo back, man.
Turning Point: They bang and bang and bang and knock the door down and Valtteri Puustinen delivers for them and ties the game to get them the rest.
Around the Division: Utica beats Charlotte 3-2 in overtime…Hershey beats Hartford 1-0 in a shootout. Both goalies get shutouts in that situation. Providence beats Syracuse 6-5 in overtime. Lehigh Valley dominates Rochester 5-1, outshooting them 40-15.
Standings: Providence 29 – Hershey 26 – Charlotte 25 – Bridgeport 24 – Penguins 22 – Lehigh Valley and Springfield 18 – Hartford 15
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off Saturday.
Video Highlights: Again the AHL VideoCenter is probably for best bet for this.
Back at it Tuesday in Hershey.
Let’s Go Pens!
November 25, 2022Posted by on
So Dustin Tokarski will get all the plaudits Friday night, as the 16th AHL goaltender to win 200 games, but he has Drake Caggiula to thank for getting him there.
The Penguins forward was everywhere for the Penguins in a 3-2 shootout win Friday night. When the game was at it’s dullest, Caggiula was there stirring things up. It was Caggiula’s shorthanded goal late in the third period when all hope appeared lost that propelled the Penguins to an overtime and then a shootout. It would have been perfect if Caggiula had the game winning goal in the shootout round, but his number wasn’t called.
Back to Tokarski. The Penguins may actually have him to thank in the win, as without him and the bombing of shots put on him in the second period, the game could have gotten out of hand and quickly. He’s someone to be thankful for, highlighted by this piece here by the venerable Patrick Williams.
Tokarski opposed Pat Nagle.
Lineup Notes: Shuffling of guys with lines (Puustinen up to the top line) but no lineup changes. Looks like Corey Andonovski played his way out of the lineup as he took warmups. Something may be up with Jon Lizotte though.
First Period: Louie Belpedio throws a shot at the net at the expiration of a Phantoms power play and Tyson Foerster gets a tip on it to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
(no GIFs of any of the Phantoms goals, must not be their bag)
Second Period: Goaltending adventurism by Nagle, who leaves his net to play a puck and there’s a few Penguins around but no one can put the puck in a vacated net.
Pens come in later on a 2-on-1 and Drake Caggiula can’t get one in past Nagle. Play really started to open up.
Third Period: Lukas Svejkovsky and Jordy Bellerive trade chances of being unable to score unmarked in front of the opposing goaltender.
Later, Elliot Desnoyers scores to double the Phantoms lead and the thought at the time, with the dry luck the Penguins were having offensively that since Tokarski was doing everything but score, there was no way back for the Penguins.
Well, until Valtteri Puustinen had other ideas.
His shot from the near side goes in past Nagle and in with Drew O’Connor screening. Pens down 2-1. Here’s where you think maybe they can come back.
Then, referee Mason Riley tags Kyle Olson for a baby soft trip call late and here’s where you think it’s over.
Well Drake Caggiula with the help of Filip Hållander had other ideas.
Hållander sets up Caggiula for a goal and his league leading sixth straight game with an assist when ex-Penguin Garrett Wilson plays too cute with the puck and gives it away for a goal and a tie game.
That was enough to carry the sides to…
Overtime: :05 in and Drew O’Connor draws a penalty, but the Penguins can’t score on the ensuing power play. It was then off to the…
Shootout: Alex Nylander scores in the top of the first. Dustin Tokarski denies all three skaters he faces and the seemingly impossible comeback is complete.
The Good: The never say die attitude of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
The Bad: The Cardiac Penguins are back.
Turning Point: Said to myself at the time that the Desnoyers goal that made it 2-0 is either the put away goal or the kick in the pants Wilkes-Barre needs to win. The latter proved true on this night.
Standings: Providence 27 – Hershey 24 – Charlotte 24 – Bridgeport 24 – Penguins 20 – Springfield 17 – Lehigh Valley 16 – Hartford 14
Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 4-1 in Kalamazoo. Sean Josling with the goal for the Nailers.
Video Highlights: If I see them I will post them.
More Saturday after the tussle with the Thunderbirds.
November 23, 2022Posted by on
They ramped up the physicality tonight and it paid off. Wilkes-Barre wins the rematch with the Checkers on Wednesday night 5-2.
Recipe for success? Seems like they ground down the Checkers and that aggression paid off in the form of goals. See if the same level of aggression makes the flight home for a game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday. Phantoms are a lot better than the last time we saw them about a month ago.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Nathan Legare for Sam Houde up front and Jack St. Ivany for Jonathan Lizotte.
First Period: You could tell they were a lot more physical with the Checkers as opposed to Monday. Valtteri Puustinen feeds Sam Poulin on the back door for a goal to give the Pens a 1-0 lead early on.
Wilkes-Barre had to kill a penalty and Dustin Tokarski stayed busy, stopping a breakaway with a minute to play on Aleksi Heponiemi. Tokarski stopped 9 shots in the first.
Second Period: Checkers get even on the Pens when Gerry Mayherw sonnets with Henry Bowlby for a goal.
But then the Penguins turned up the intensity and get three goals in 2:43 to stun the Checkers.
Valtteri Puustinen with a goal on a breakaway and it’s 2-1.
Drew O’Connor takes a puck fluttering around the crease and puts it in for a two goal lead and it’s 3-1.
Tyler Sikura a few short moments later and it’s 4-1.
Here they are all in the order they occurred.
Pens get a power play, their first of the game looking to turn it into a runaway but aren’t able to convert.
Charlotte kept coming and Tokarski was pressed into some saves that kept it a three goal lead for the Penguins.
Third Period: Checkers scored to cut the deficit to two. I know what you are thinking. Here we go again. Fluky play that sees Michael Del Zotto get credit for it when the shot is deflected off of Penguins defensemen Mark Friedman and in past Tokarski.
Pens had a power play but that hasn’t clicked in a while and was of no benefit to them here.
Charlotte puts 14 shots on and but for that fluke goal by Del Zotto, Tokarski and the Penguins defense was fine.
Friedman, in a bit of redemption, hits an empty net for a goal that iced the game away for a 5-2 Penguins lead for good.
Three Stars: 3) Michael Del Zotto (goal) 2) Filip Hallander (two assists) 1) Valtteri Puustinen (goal, assist)
The Good: I liked the response and subsequent result. Push teams around and get what you want and get out of there.
The Bad: It’s nitpicking because of the no doubt result, but there are still gaps that need to be sewn up. If the Pens don’t blow it open in the second, it’s probably a lot tighter like it was on Monday.
Turning Point: That 2:43 run they went on in the second carried them across the line.
Around the Division: Bridgeport doubles up Hartford 6-3…Hershey skates past Springfield 2-1…Providence lose a lead against the Rochester Americans and lost in OT with 5 seconds left. Americans win 4-3.
Standings: Providence 25 – Bridgeport 23 – Hershey 22 – Charlotte 22 – Penguins 18 – Springfield 17 – Lehigh Valley 15 – Hartford 14
Wheeling Update: Nailers beat the Indy Fuel 4-2. Josh Maniscalco with a goal and an assist.
Video Highlights: I probably won’t get to these. The AHL Video Cenetr will have this if you really want to see the highlights. Happy Thanksgiving!
More Friday after the Black Friday game against the Phantoms.
Let’s Go Pens!