In an utter reversal from last night’s 4-1 loss, the Penguins win tonight by a 4-1 score of their own in Norfolk tonight led by a two assist effort by Chad Kolarik.
Wait. What’s that you say? Why are two, seemingly insignificant assists that important? Kolarik didn’t have any coming into what is his seventh game played for Wilkes-Barre tonight. He already leads the team in points overall. He is a rare, dynamic player, the kind that you just don’t see that often in Wilkes-Barre.
Look, after last nights loss, raise your hand if you thought that the Penguins were fitting to spiral back into what happened to them in December. Bad loss bred bad loss after bad loss. Tonight, the Penguins righted the ship and came out and pretty much dominated Norfolk for large parts of his game.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Igor Bobkov – Mark Eaton had a “tweak” so Cody Wild took his spot on the WBS blueline making his debut. No other lineup changes were made.
First Period: Alex Grant and Josh Brittain get any animosities festering from last night out of the way :03 in a fight. Penguins and Admirals would trade power plays but would not score. Then, about halfway into the first period, Jeff Zatkoff would find Trevor Smith on a long pass that Smith would fire goal-ward. The puck would deflect off of Admirals defenseman Jordan Hendry and go into the net putting the Penguins up 1-0. It was a pretty back and forth period by both teams with each making long outlet passes to each other. Almost felt like a track meet.
Second Period: On a carryover power play from the first period, Chad Kolarik would find Beau Bennett in the slot and the rookie would score a power play goal putting the Penguins up 2-0. The Pens in the first half of the period relentlessly forechecked, smothered on defense and won races to pucks and looked to run the Admirals out of the rink. On a power play, Joe Morrow would turn a puck over and the Admirals would come in two on none. Peter Holland would score to put the Admirals on the board. It would be the fifth shorthanded goal allowed by the Penguins this season. Much different hockey game from there for the remainder of the period as the Penguins almost looked stunned from the goal and Norfolk desperately looked to even the score.
Third Period: Norfolk continued to pressure, nearly score on a power play then finally Chad Kolarik finds Riley Holzapfel wide open in the slot where Holzapfel has all day to pick a corner and score. Big goal at the time as the Penguins were on their heels. Turns out that it would be all the run support that the Penguins would need as they wouldn’t allow the Admirals any more Grade A chances and scored an empty net goal when Warren Peters scored from about 100′ away.
Three Stars: 3) Beau Bennett (goal, even) 2) Trevor Smith (goal, assist, +2) 1) Chad Kolarik (two assists, +1)
Around the Division: Hershey betas Binghamton at home 4-3. Syracuse coughs up a three goal lead in the third and lose to Albany 4-3.
Standings: Binghamton 60 — Syracuse 58 — Penguins 53 — Hershey 51 — Norfolk 41
Conference: 1) SPR (60) 2) BNG (60) 3) POR (56) 4) SYR (58) 5) PRO (53) 6) WBS (53) 7) HER (51) 8) WOR (50)
SendToNews Highlights: Are here.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were shutout by the Reading Royals 3-0 at home.
Penguins bus home tonight, are off Sunday, practice Monday and host the Binghamton Senators Tuesday.
I will probably run a Sunday recap on scores tomorrow night, as every team in the division except Wilkes-Barre has a game. Just something to keep things fresh on the blog until Tuesdays Gameday setup for what is shaping up to be a big game vs. the Binghamton Senators.
Let’s Go Pens!