The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have not played a meaningful hockey game for 11 days.
You normally hear all the cheap cliches or excuses for a team that has all of this time off that drops Game 1 of a series in their next game.
Not this group, led by this coach, Clark Donatelli.
The Penguins, led by Donatelli’s astute acumen behind the bench and a stellar, dazzling, insert your own adjective set here performance by Casey DeSmith take home ice away from the Atlantic Division Champion Hershey Bears with a 4-0 win tonight in Game 1. DeSmith had 33 saves.
The Penguins offense? No cheap goals here. They scored at :45 of the first period and :15 of the second. They jumped Hershey from the drop and locked down and never let go.
Wilkes-Barre would have took a split coming back to Wilkes-Barre for a Game 3 Saturday. Now they are probably forcing Hershey into personnel changes and maybe a swap in goal heading into Game 2 Friday. If the Pens take that one? Could be all over soon. Who knows.
The aforementioned DeSmith opposed Round 1 hero for the Bears Justin Peters.
Plenty of video highlights included in this recap, jump through below if you didn’t link in direct.
Kael Mouillierat – Dustin Jeffrey – Daniel Sprong
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Mattias Plachta – J-S Dea – Dominik Simon
Josh Archibald – Teddy Blueger – Adam Krause
Niclas Andersen – Harrison Ruopp
Ryan Parent – Barry Goers
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy were recalled to Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon…Harrison Ruopp and Adam Krause took their spot in the lineup. Healthy scratches for the Pens were Patrick McGrath, who took warmups but was the scratch, Ethan Prow, Tyler Biggs and Sahir Gill. Injury scratches were Dominik Uher, who is still out long term and Reid McNeill who is working his way to day to day status.
First Period: What rust? :45 in, Daniel Sprong scored…
It was a great exit pass that sprung Sprong, who got the step on the Bears D and scored. Seth had this note on Sprong’s production…
Bears slowly got their legs under them, got Teddy Blueger for holding and slung the puck around on the power play with Chris Bourque quarterbacking but were not able to get one past DeSmith.
Sprong continued to make his presence felt, forechecking the Bears defense like a dog on a bone, forcing some turnovers and getting some scoring chances.
Pens could not do anything with a late power play but continued to get the good looks at Peters, who kept out a one goal game with some big saves through traffic.
Bears then covered the puck in the crease of Peters in the final minute and Jake Guentzel took and missed the penalty shot.
Apologize for the spelling error in the tweet there, what I meant to say was “Here is the attempt,(by Guentzel) the seventh penalty shot in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton postseason history.”
Glad that the penalty shot miss came in the periods final minute, because it could have game the Bears momentum.
Second Period: Pens quick to score again. This time Carter Rowney with a deflection goal of this shot by Ryan Parent…
Quick strikes by Wilkes-Barre sound familiar this postseason?
Bears had two great chances. Chris Bourque services Chandler Stephenson but Stephenson shot the puck high, then DeSmith poke checked Garrett Mitchell as he was bearing down on a puck that looked like a sure goal for the Bears.
But then the Penguins at just past halfway had a chance to triple their lead with a nice pass from Dustin Jeffrey to the tape of Kael Mouillierat that ended up harmlessly in the pads of Peters and cleared form danger.
More Bears transition, Jakub Vrana had a puck sail wide when he deflected it. But DeSmith, on pucks that got to him, was not allowing the Bears any second chances.
The teams traded power plays late with neither capitalizing and it was onto the…
Third Period: Pens didn’t score in the games first minute. Slackers.
Bears had a power play but the Pens killed it. Wilkes-Barre then got a power play and Daniel Sprong sniped home his second of the game…
Right after that, Carter Rowney hit Carter Camper with this hit that drew a penalty…
From that angle and by my eye, it looked shoulder to shoulder. Camper returned to the game, I don’t think if he even went to the room, and the Pens killed the penalty that ensued.
Nathan Walker was then awarded a penalty shot when Tim Erixon but missed:
Two penalty shots in a regular season game is rare. I know you are wondering when the last time that there were two penalty shots in the same postseason game.
Bears pulled Peters with about four minutes to play in the period. They got a power play but Tom Kostopoulos scored shorthanded.
(sorry I don’t tweet video of empty net goals)
In the games final minute, Liam O’Brien received a five minute charging major and a game misconduct for this sequence on Dominik Simon…
Simon, for what it is worth with 33.2 seconds left in a 4-0 blowout win in Game 1 of a seven game series, stayed in the game after getting checked out by the Penguins training staff.
Whether suspensions will come from the O’Brien hit on Simon or the Rowney I’m calling shoulder check on Camper, remains to be seen. In all seriousness, these two teams are so evenly matched, it would be a shame to see anyone get suspended and you certainly do not want to see the series devolve into dirty, cheap hits.
Three Stars: 3) Barry Goers (assist, +3) 2) Daniel Sprong (two goals, +1) and 1) Casey DeSmith (33 save shutout)
It was a milestone postseason victory for the Penguins:
And some history, which is actually good history:
And more good history:
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost Game 3 in Reading 4-1. Brian Foster took the loss and Shane Bakker scored the only goal for the Nailers, who trail that best of seven series 2-1.
Here are the game highlights from the Bears and the Coal Street infographic:
I’ll probably have a chart update sometime Thursday. If any supplemental discipline is handed down by the League regarding this game, I will have a blog post.
Game 2 Friday in Hershey.
Let’s Go Pens!