The Syracuse Crunch used to be represented by Al the Ice Gorilla. One of my biggest regrets as a fan is I never was able to get a picture with Al the Gorilla. Al was a big scary white gorilla that apparently was supposed to be an intimidating figure.
Kevin Porter played the role of Al the Ice Gorilla for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins this afternoon as the Penguins roll the Syracuse Crunch by a 6-1 score. Porter has four goals this season, all coming against the Syracuse Crunch.
Casey DeSmith opposed Kristers Gudlevskis.
Minor lineup changes for the Pens. Up front, Patrick McGrath was in for Ryan Haggerty who was injured last night in Springfield. Barry Goers skated warmups and was projected to be a scratch but Tim Erixon, who was to play, was the late scratch.
As told to the WBS media postgame, Ryan Haggerty is “week to week” with an upper body injury and Tim Erixon is “day to day” with a lower body injury picked up in Saturday’s game vs. Springfield.
First Period: Carter Rowney got the goal scoring for the Penguins started early when he deflected a Reid McNeill shot in for a 1-0 Penguins lead. The Penguins jumped all over the Crunch to start. The Crunch played two tough games Friday and Saturday so they may have been a bit out of gas. The Penguins, having not played Friday, were the better and fresher team.
Here’s the Rowney goal:
Jake Guentzel kept the puck in the zone batting the puck mid-air to keep it in.
Kevin Porter struck twice in the final half of the period. First, Cameron Gaunce found a puck at the near wall, centered Porter and Kevin whipped in the puck past Gudlevskis for a 2-0 Penguin lead.
Then, on the power play, the Pens struck again. Guess who? Kevin Porter on the power play as the puck was bouncing all over the ice late in the period.
Second Period: Theme for this period was survive and sustain.
Syracuse came out guns blazing, out shooting and out chancing the Penguins, but the defense and DeSmith did not break.
Then the Penguins scored again and put the game away. Nice keep in by Ethan Prow at the point, cycled around the net to Tom Kostopoulos who made it 4-0.
Just what the doctor ordered. You’re getting run over to start, survive the storm, sustain the lead.
Third Period: Penguins set it on cruise control to start, but Syracuse kept gunning for a goal and got one when Mike Halmo slammed one in far post to put Syracuse on the board with about 15 minutes to play.
But the Crunch would not get any closer as while still being outshot, the Penguins were getting lucky with the play of DeSmith in goal and the inability of Crunch shooters to position themselves in a prime scoring area to get a high quality shot off.
Penguins would ice the game away on a defensive miscommunication by Syracuse. Patrick McGrath pounced on a puck at the blueline while Henri Ikonen had his back turned, put a shot on Gudlevskis and J-S Dea was around to slam one home to make it a 5-1 game.
Pens would connect on a late power play when Oskar Sundqvist put one in on a rebound that made it 6-1. No letting off by Clark Donatelli there. Good to see, really, because the Penguins could use the power play work in front of live opposition.
Three Stars: 3) J-S Dea (goal, assist, +1) 2) Casey DeSmith (22 saves on 23 shots) 1) Kevin Porter (two goals, even)
Around the Division: Springfield shutout Bridgeport 2-0…Hersey beat Lehigh Valley 3-2.
Standings: Penguins with 11, Springfield with 10, Bridgeport and Hershey with 8, Hartford with 6, Lehigh Valley with 5 and a better percentage than Providence in last with 6.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers just finished off a home and home series with the Kalamazoo Wings this past weekend, look for the Wheeling Wrap this Tuesday at noon.
The Week 3 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog next, Monday at 4. Please do check back then.
Let’s Go Pens!