This was a game that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had to win for a number of reasons.
- Quell the, “here we go again” crowd who love to bitch and moan when Pittsburgh recalls players because their own are injured as has been the case for the last few seasons.
- Springfield Thunderbirds haven’t won 20 games yet coming into tonight with just 18. Wilkes-Barre should have run circles around and won by four or more goals.
- When #2 didn’t come to fruition and it became a close game, almost with a playoff like intensity with the Penguins having been shutout the night before in Albany and the Thunderbirds getting up against the best team in the AHL, that’s where you start looking at where the breakdowns started.
Here are the reasons, at least in my view, why the Penguins lost tonight. Feel free to add your own or disagree.
- Reto Berra is a 6-4, 200 pound goaltender who is a lot better than his record would indicate. He plays very well against the Penguins, shutting them out this past October 1-0.
- Wilkes-Barre took six penalties in the game, three in the first and two in the second with one in the third.
- The Penguins celebrated like they won a playoff series when they finally scored on Berra in the third period. This had to have drawn the ire of the Thunderbirds as they would score about three minutes later.
- WordPress isn’t letting be do a 3a., so consider this that. You don’t celebrate like you won something when you score a goal against a sixth place team that has been a doormat for other teams in the AHL. It makes you look petty and a bigger fool when the opposing team scores on you three minutes later.
A 2-1 Thunderbirds win tonight. Second loss for the weekend for the Penguins who head to Providence to take on Zane McIntyre most likely Sunday afternoon. The P-Bruins, who were shut out by Hershey tonight, will be chomping at the bit to get back out there and out there with their magic bullet in McIntyre against the League’s best team.
Can’t have it both ways, guys. You want the best team and you have them with the Penguins. But you have to expect the other teams best when playing the best team.
Casey DeSmith opposed the aforementioned Reto Berra.
Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Christian Hilbrich – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Derrick Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Jarrett Burton – Sahir Gill – Patrick McGrath
Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers
Stuart Percy – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Pittsburgh re-assigned Josh Archibald to Wilkes-Barre earlier in the day and Coal Street signed Brett Stern to another PTO. Healthy scratches were Danny Kristo, Ryan Haggerty and the aforementioned Brett Stern. Christian Hilbrich got another game. Swap McGrath for Haggerty and Archibald for Kristo. When a guy from Wheeling was getting to play over you, that may be a message or it may be nothing.
First Period: Wilkes-Barre / Scranton only had 24 shots in last nights game against Albany. Well, in the first period alone in Springfield, the Penguins put up 14 on Reto Berra. Berra was singlehandedly the reason why the game wasn’t out of hand 10 minutes in. Springfield comes alive in the final five minutes in the period, a shot by Jayce Hawryluk on the power play hit the top of the bar behind DeSmith. Both myself at home watching on AHL Live and Nick and Obie on radio thought it was a goal. Play continued a good three minutes before referees Mike Campbell and Tim Mayer took a look and confirmed the no goal call that Mayer, the low referee, made.
So the Falcons dodge a Penguin bullet with Reto Berra for fifteen minutes and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins dodge a Springfield bullet via the crossbar behind Casey DeSmith.
Second Period: Penguins take ther third penalty in a row and Springfield finally cashes on it as Jared McCann gets a puck, baits Casey DeSmith out of his own net and puts the puck in it. Tim Erixon was a passenger on the play as he was caught in no mans land on the play not knowing whether he should go behind the net to get the puck or take the man. He should have took the man, but hindsight is 20-20.
Here is the goal. You be the judge…
Wilkes-Barre got close on their only power play in the period but could not crack Reto Berra. Springfield didn’t exactly play better than the Penguins as much as Wilkes-Barre taking a penalty every five minutes. Eventually a team at the AHL level will score on the man advantage via trial and error.
Third Period: David Warsofsky finally breaks the ice for the Penguins with this low shot on Berra :05 into a power play for the Penguins…
A little over three minutes later, the Thunderbirds reestablish their lead over Wilkes-Barre when Penguin killer Mackenzie Weegar puts a shot on DeSmith who makes the save but Juho Lammikko was right there for the rebound to put past DeSmith.
Penguins got a power play with a minute to play and with DeSmith vacated the Thunderbirds never touched the puck once but Wilkes-Barre never found the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Jared McCann (goal, +1) 2) Reto Berra (34 saves on 35 shots) and 1) Juho Lammikko (game winning goal, +1)
Around the Division: Bridgeport beat Albany 3-2 in the afternoon game. That’s six in a row and 14 of 15 for the Sound Tigers. Lehigh Valley exacts revenge on Hartford and beats the Wolf Pack 6-4 and so does Hershey against Providence I mentioned in the open. Final score there was 4-0 Bears.
Standings: Penguins (.726 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.667) — Bridgeport (.660) — Providence (.644) — Hershey (.606) — Springfield (.461) — Hartford (.422)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Kalamazoo Wings 5-4. Nick Sorkin had a pair of goals. Garrett Meurs had a goal and two assists.
If Springfield puts forth a highlight package, I will run an edit here.
Pens will bus to Providence overnight for the 3:05 start against the Bruins Sunday afternoon. Look for the Gameday setup to hit the blog Sunday morning at 11 a.m.
Let’s Go Pens!