Most exciting game in recent memory against two heavyweight teams. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms duked it out in a knock down, drag out contest that saw the Penguins win the game in a shootout 6-5 on the only goal scored in the exhibition gallery from Christian Thomas in the bottom of the third round.
Thomas, who is leaving for Finland to participate in the Karjala Cup on Sunday, which is going to be used as an evaluation for Team Canada for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics had an all around great game and the game winning shootout goal was just the icing on the cake.
Heippa, by the way, is “goodbye” in the Finnish language. Now you know. Something else you should know is that the Penguins have won six games in a row.
With the win and the Providence regulation loss to Bridgeport, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are in sole possession of first place of the Atlantic Division.
Casey DeSmith opposed Dustin Tokarski.
Dominik Simon – Adam Johnson – Christian Thomas
Garrett Wilson – Gage Quinney – Daniel Sprong
Zach Aston-Reese — J-S Dea — Ryan Haggerty
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Thomas Di Pauli
Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Kevin Czuczman – Kevin Spinozzi
Chris Summers – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Colin Stevens
Lineup Notes: Colin Smith, Jarred Tinordi and Jeff Taylor practiced in full this week and are expected back soon. As mentioned in the open, Christian Thomas will leaving Sunday for the Karjala Cup. Read more about it all that here. Tom Kostopoulos was out injured again, word is a day-to-day, upper body injury for the Penguins captain.
First Period: An all out assault by the Phantoms to open, who jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in shots then got a power play. But the Penguins forecheck on the penalty kill forced a turnover to Garrett Wilson who was robbed by Tokarski in this sequence….
Someone should alert Lehigh Valley social that Tokarki’s nickname (when he was with Norfolk) was, “tick.” Perhaps it is still is.
I’ll let Tyler set up how the Phantoms scored even strength…
…and Taylor will show you how it looked…
The first even strength goal allowed by Casey DeSmith this season in 130:54.
Penguins withstood a relentless charge by the Phantoms to end the period aided by a 4:00 high sticking penalty against them when Chris Summers caught Danick Martel with a high stick off of a a face-off. The Penguins got lucky when the referee lost sight of a puck that was loose in DeSmith’s crease but were able to kill both ends of the double minor.
Second Period: Penguins get on the board with Gage Quinney’s fourth goal of the season, digging a puck out of the pads of Tokarski to tie the game at one a piece.
Penguins started the period with a blitzkrieg on the Phantoms to start the period but unlike the Phantoms, were able to get goals. On a power play, Christian Thomas scored this goal after this ridiculous pass by Dominik Simon in front…
10 points this season for Dominik Simon.
Then, a wild sequence for both teams.
With Kevin Spinozzi in the box for a bonkers play where it appeared (to me) that Mark Friedman comes in offsides and then is tripped by Spinozzi, Danick Martel blew a tire and J-S Dea skated in, faked Tokarski into a poke check and scored shorthanded to make it 3-1 Penguins….
Pens about to blow the game open, right?
Danick Martel atones for the last play and scores to bring the Phantoms back to within one.
He walked DeSmith out of his crease like a dog out of his coop there.
Wild :45 of play, where both teams score on special teams.
Pens had a goal taken away when Garrett Wilson made contact with Tokarski. Referee Tim Mayer correctly disallowed the would be goal by Ethan Prow immediately.
Small turning point for the Phantoms who get goals by T.J. Brennan, a seeing eye deal that DeSmith never saw…
Then Mikhail Vorobyev scored to make it 4-3 Lehigh Valley.
With 10.4 seconds left, J-S Dea stripped a Phantom of the puck, found Ryan Haggerty who unleashed his lethal shot he is known for and beat Tokarski, bar down and in that made it 4-4 heading into the third period.
Third Period: Back and forth, end to end action with neither team backing down, giving an inch to their opponent. Pens had to kill two penalties and did.
Overtime: No scoring, but the Phantoms found themselves shorthanded twice. Wilkes-Barre was unable to capitalize.
Shootout: Dea and Corban Knight missed in round one, Sprong and Oskar Lindblom missed in round two, Chris Conner missed in the top of the third and then Christian Thomas won it here…
Three Stars: Ryan Haggerty (two goals, +2) 2) Chris Conner (goal, two assists, +2) and 1) Garrett Wilson (three assists, +1)
A note on Wilson from Nick Hart:
Around the Division: Another exciting game happened tonight between the Hershey Bears and the Rochester Americans with tons of goals and lots of lead changes. Rochester wins in a shootout, 7-6….Springfield picks up a win over Hartford 5-3….Bridgeport beats Providence 1-0 thanks to a 27 save shutout by Chris Gibson….Charlotte pounds Belleville in Ontario 6-1.
Standings: Penguins (.778 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.727) — Charlotte (.700) — Providence (.667) — Bridgeport (.444) — Hartford (.409) — Hershey (.400) — Springfield (.227)
Wheeling Update: Reid Gardiner was named ECHL Rookie of the Month on Wednesday. Tonight against Cincinnati Gardiner had a goal and an assist but it was not enough for the Nailers who lost 4-3 in overtime to the Cyclones.
Pens are off Saturday, back in action Sunday against the Hershey Bears at 3:05. Gameday setup is yours Sunday at 11 a.m.
Let’s Go Pens!