They dressed a youthful lineup tonight and, but for a :26 span in the the third period, were staying step for step with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers who win tonight 5-2 to secure home ice over the Hershey Bears in their first round playoff series that opens late next week.
Here is how they actually lined up:
Guys like Ryan Haggerty, Adam Johnson and Joseph Cramarossa were given the night off up front. Jeff Taylor and Tim Erixon on defense. Alex D’Orio, who is the future of the franchise in goal, got a start.
Fan Appreciation Night started with some awards.
– Defensive player of the year: Jarrett Burton
– Media Award: Kevin Czuczman
– Rookie of the Year: Sam Lafferty
– Three Stars Award: Ryan Haggerty
– Community Service: Chris Summers
– Ethan Prow picked up his award for being named to the second team all star squad.
– Fan Favorite: Tristan Jarry (absent) Andy Chiodo accepted on his behalf.
– MVP: Tristan Jarry
Can’t argue with Rookie or MVP. Blueger was probably in the mix, but Jarry got the Pens close when Blueger was already up in Pittsburgh.
Wilkes-Barre got the jump 1:07 in when Ben Sexton scored to give the Pens a 1-0 lead.
Steve Bernier was the last to deflect a shot from the point that beat D’Orio on a power play and it was tied.
Patrick McGrath had a dangerous head contact with the elbow on Captain Ben Holmstrom. Holmstorm was clearly disoriented and needed help off the ice and didn’t return. McGrath was ejected and had to fight Kiefer Bellows. Bellows was given an instigating penalty.
A lot of stuff I don’t agree with here but lets start with the instigator. Your captain just got blindsided, is flopping on the ice wondering what year it is, and you expect Bellows to just stand there, top McGrath on the shin pads and say nice hit? Gross over officiating by Peter MacDougall and Carter Sandlak in that regard. They were fine the rest of the game, but that over reach didn’t sit well with me.
Mitch Vande Sompel finished off a one timer low near side on a two man advantage that gave Bridgeport a 2-1 lead.
Jake Lucchini finished off a nice pass by Sam Lafferty on a power play to tie the game at two.
Otto Koivula got lost on transition and scored to give Bridgeport the 3-2 lead.
Alex D’Orio, for what it’s worth, played a good game. Give him a summer working under Andy Chiodo and the Pittsburgh brass and we have another goaltending stud coming through Wilkes-Barre.
Jon Lizotte had three shots as the Pens had the Sound Tigers pinned deep but couldn’t score. That was their best chance to tie it because Oliver Wahlstrom walked three defenders and leaked one past D’Orio to give the Sound Tigers a 4-2 lead. Vande Sompel made it 5-2 :26 later.
Here’s the Wahlstrom goal.
That was it. Bridgeport clinches home ice with Hershey in the first round.
Here are your three stars:
I have stayed mum here on the blog regarding ongoing Arena negotiations. They have a confidentiality agreement in place. Anyone who thinks they know anything does not know anything. This is a bit of an empty announcement that doesn’t hold much of anything, but it’s something. Hopefully soon. My season tickets should be paid off for next year already.
Video highlights below.
They are back at it again Sunday afternoon with Binghamton in the regular series finale. Gameday setup is yours Sunday morning at 11.
Let’s Go Pens!