Benjamin Franklin said once that there were two guarantees in life.
Death and taxes.
If Franklin were around today, he would add a third.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins qualifying for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Penguins were established in 1999. This is their 17th season of existence in the American Hockey League, which has been around for 80 years.
The Penguins have made the playoffs for the fourteenth consecutive season.
Teams have come and teams have gone, Norfolk, Saint John, Manchester to name three that have dismissed or defeated the Penguins en route to their own Calder Cup Championship. But one thing remains certain.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins get knocked down, but they get up again. 13 straight years without a Cup? Whatever. We will get you stupid fools next year. Oh, you want to call up half the team when Pittsburgh regulars get hurt? Alright fine. Make it tougher on us. We will see through it.
Complain all you want about the price of a hot dog, the coaching, the goal song, whatever. The fact is this, there is a line the goes from the parking lot at the Mohegan Sun Arena to half way to Albany full of fans, media types and front office personnel that would trade places with you in a heartbeat. You want to know why? The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are a model AHL franchise.
Like it or not, reality is, despite the lack of a Calder Cup Championship banner in the rafters, the Penguins are the envy of the league.
One of these years though, that lack of a banner in the rafters, will change.
Only question that remains is, is this the year?
The Penguins defeated the Hershey Bears on their own ice to lock up the 14th consecutive trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs winning tonight 4-3. Total team effort. Stellar display of goaltending by Brian Foster, yes, Brian Foster, to lock up the postseason berth.
Foster opposed Dan Ellis.
Josh Archibald – Dustin Jeffrey – Dominik Simon
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Mattias Plachta – J-S Dea – Adam Krause
Jarrett Burton – Teddy Blueger – Patrick McGrath
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Ryan Parent – Will O’Neill
Brian Foster – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Steve Oleksy was out of the lineup with a lower body injury sustained in Friday’s shutout loss to Lehigh Valley. Jarrett Burton slotted in for the recalled to Pittsburgh earlier in the morning Kael Mouillierat. Tonight was a scheduled night off for Tristan Jarry. With Matt Murray leaving the game in Philadelphia with an apparent head injury, Jarry’s status for tomorrow remains up in the air.
First Period: Excellent start by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. They pressed the Bears, limited opportunities at Foster and scored three goals in the process.
They killed a Ryan Parent trip then got the first of two goals from Dominik Simon in the period when Ellis, slightly out of position, allowed enough time and space for Simon to open the scoring.
They got the second goal of the night on a nice centering pass by Tom Kostopoulos to Carter Rowney who slipped it past Ellis to make it 2-0 Penguins.
They got burned by a defensive gaffe and miscommunication by Foster when Liam O’Brien knocked one in to cut the Bears deficit to one.
Undeterred, the Penguins went on a power play, didn’t score on it but Simon scored his second of the period on a nice redirect of a Josh Archibald slap pass in the slot.
Shots were 7-6 Pens at the end of one and compared to last night a great period by the Pens who came into this game losing three in a row.
Second Period: Pens went ahead 4-1 on a Reid McNeill shot that was tipped by a falling Jarrett Burton. That goal ended Dan Ellis’ night. Enter Justin Peters. That settled the Bears a bit because they got one back off the stick of Carter Camper on a next level redirection of a Ryan Stanton shot.
Special teams took over. Neither teams was able to score. Foster was solid on the penalty kill and the Pens only put one shot on Peters after he relieved Ellis.
Third Period: I noticed in the intermission that the Pens only had one shot on Peters in the second period. The Bears were riled up and ready for the third. After killing a penalty by the Pens the Bears were sniffing for the third goal. Then Tim Erixon knocked the net off deliberately resulting in a Bears power play. After two separate sequences where Brian Foster’s mask came off, Chris Bourque scored his 200th AHL goal on a wicked blast of a shot that Foster got some of, but not all of.
Pens needed to stop taking penalties but then Dominik Simon clipped Travis Boyd with a high stick and drew blood. 4:00 power play to the Bears. Here is where Foster came up big and won the game for the Pens. Several good chances by Hershey but they were unable to get it equal. After the Pens killed it, I head and felt a hush over the Bears crowd that that was it, the last bullet had been fired.
With Peters pulled and after a time out by Head Coact Troy Mann, the home team never found the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Chris Bourque (goal, even) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (two assists, +2) and 1) Dominik Simon (two goals, +2)
Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Lehigh Valley 6-4…Hartford beats Springfield 6-2…Providence beats Portland 6-1.
Standings: Hershey (.639 percentage points) — Penguins (.618) — Providence (.604) — Portland (.590) — Bridgeport (.590) — Hartford (.563) — Lehigh Valley (.493) — Springfield (.403)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were in Reading tonight and won 4-2 in their final regular season game. The Nailers now set their sights on the Florida Everblades in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Coal Street infographic:
And video highlights courtesy of the Bears….
Rematch between these two teams Sunday at 4:05 from Wilkes-Barre. The Gameday setup hits the blog at noon.
Let’s Go Pens!!!