Sucks that the season had to end this way, a season full of promise and a season which is Tom Kostopoulos’ final.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins bow out of the playoffs in a three game sweep to the Charlotte Checkers by final score of 7-3 and the season is over.
Charlotte is an extremely complete team. They may not be favorites in the next round against either Lehigh Valley or Providence and definitely won’t be a favorite in the Conference Finals if they happen to make it that far but do not underestimate this team going forward.
I actually had two versions of ledes written tonight, one if the Penguins were to extend the series to Game 4 and one if they bowed out and were swept. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that I have to get up for work in the morning so let’s get right to it.
Here were the lines….
Garrett Wilson – Gage Quinney – Daniel Sprong
Christian Thomas – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Joseph Cramarossa – Jarrett Burton – Josh Jooris
Adam Johnson – Teddy Blueger – Anthony Angello
Chris Summers – Ethan Prow
Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Niclas Almari – Zach Trotman
Tristan Jarry – Michael Leighton
For the Checkers:
Lineup Notes: Kevin Czuczman and Jarred Tinordi were out injured, Almari and Prow slotted in for them. Up front, Christian Thomas for Ryan Haggerty and some jumbling of the lines from Game 2.
First Period: Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a goal from Anthony Angello, his first as a professional, when Teddy Blueger put a shot on, hot nailed by a hit and Angello was there for the rebound.
Wilkes-Barre doubled the lead with a goal by Christian Thomas. Zach Trotman put the shot on and Thomas tipped it in. Checkers were under relentless pressure.
Here they are in GIF format:
Checkers quick strike offense was on full display. Lucas Wallmark put a shot on from the point after relentless Charlotte pressure. After the faceoff, ex-Penguin Greg McKegg stole a puck, weaved through bodies and scored unassisted :21 later to tie the score.
Here were the Checkers goals:
Wilkes-Barre has a strong start and a weak finish. Charlotte with a weak start and a strong finish. Pretty simple.
Second Period: Extremely even period to start. I remember looking up at the clock after stoppages to see the score tied and the shots even. This series has been so dead even.
Aleksi Saarela put a shot on through bodies near the goal line that went off of every piece of Jarrett Burton’s equipment and went in. A crushing own goal conceded in a tie game with a season on the line.
Third Period: Penguins opened with a carryover power play. They failed to score. Later, Clark Bishop jammed home a puck that extended the Checkers lead to two. A puck dug off the back wall put on Bishops tape and slammed in.
A few moments later, Andrew Miller sniped mid slot over Jarry’s glove using a defenseman as a screen and it was 5-2.
Anthony Angello scores his second of the game as a puck leaked through Nedeljkovic to bring Wilkes-Barre to within two.
The Penguins had life, until they didn’t, as Tom Kostopoulos took a late penalty that put the Penguins back on the penalty kill.
Checkers hit two empty nets to turn it into a rout in tomorrow’s papers.
Three Stars: 3) Anthony Angello (two goals, +1) 2) Valentin Zykov (two assists, +1) and 1) Andrew Miller (goal, assist, +2)
So that’s it. another season of disappointment for the Penguins who make it to the playoffs for the sixteenth consecutive season and come up short of the ultimate prize at the end. You can look back on the season and be wrong if you thought that the cupboard was raided by Pittsburgh. Zach Aston-Reese is a bonafide NHL player, Dominik Simon put in too much time at the AHL level for too many seasons to just get shipped away again and the Penguins botched the Antti Niemi backup goalie situation from the start which necessitated the call-up of either Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry. But none of those reasons can be pinned on Wilkes-Barre going out in the first round again. Don’t listen to anybody that tries to sell you on that pile of trash.
The Penguins were strong in goal all season, playing with a rotation of DeSmith and Jarry, trading for one of the greatest goaltenders of all time in the AHL in Michael Leighton and finding a diamond in the rough with Anthony Peters. The defense was as stout as its ever been and as deep. The Penguins coughed up a lead in Game 1 in the third period and lost in overtime and couldn’t score a power play goal when they needed it the most in Game 2. These reasons, in a five game series where the margins for error are razor thin, put the Penguins behind the eight ball and Charlotte, being the complete team that they are, weren’t going to be the next Providence or Bridgeport in the history books they keep at 40 Coal Street.
Thanks for playing along this year and reading. I think I have carved out a niche as a blog that people read and respect and for that I say thanks. I still believe that the Penguins will have their day.
Enjoy your summer.