The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins made a move Friday morning and brought that piece with them to Hershey for their 2019-20 regular season opener.
Stefan Noesen was signed to an AHL contract Friday, is a big time offensive threat, almost a wolf in sheep clothing playing at this level with the way that he dominated and dictated play Saturday night in Hershey as the Penguins beat the Bears 4-3.
First win for new GM and Head Coach Mike Vellucci. The Penguins were prepared, unfettered after getting scored on in the first minute of the game and slowly took over and smothered the Bears.
Another mention was the play of Casey DeSmith. Shuffled out of Pittsburgh because of salary cap constraints, an argument could be made that DeSmith was the best player on the ice with the amount of saves that he made and the way that he made them. Noesen and the offense got the Penguins to the lead, DeSmith preserved it.
DeSmith opposed Vitek Vanecek.
And for the Bears…
Lineup: That new name there on the second line is Stefan Noesen, a big time late addition made by Mike Vellucci and the Penguins on Friday. Provided Noesen, who has battled recent injuries, stays healthy, that is a hell of a lot of offense injected into this Wilkes-Barre lineup that is already paying dividends.
First Period: Didn’t take long for the Bears to score, needing all of 62 seconds to find the back of the net when Wilkes-Barre misses change to clear and Alex Alexeyev pinches and scores to make it 1-0 Bears early on.
Penguins would answer back with a rebound goal by Jake Lucchini on a Ryan Haggerty shot from the slot. Lucchini was left unmarked in front and cleaned up the rebound.
Game started to run into a track meet, with odd man rushes a plenty. Andrew Agozzino busted up a Joe Snively would be breakaway chance.
Newcomer Stefan Noesen would score on this nice setup by Adam Johnson who went cross ice, found a seam and Noesen for the goal that made it 2-1 WIlkes-Barre.
Hershey would even it late when the Penguins looked scrambly in their own end and Christan Djoos made them pay.
Second Period: Wilkes-Barre would edge back ahead with another goal by Stefan Noesen which came off of an Oula Palve face-off win. Palve would take it himself where Noesen would cash in on the rebound.
The Penguins would withstand a 15 shot effort from Hershey but Casey DeSmith would be cool in net and stop them all.
Third Period: Penguins would take a too many men on the ice call and killed it with DeSmith making saves, then Niclas Almari found a streaking Anthony Angello out of the penalty box for this goal that made it 4-2.
DeSmith continued to dazzle in net for the Penguins, with this save added to the highlight reel night he had in the crease.
Matt Moulson would finally figure out DeSmith with a near side goal that brought the Bears back within one with 1:19 left to play.
(No GIF of this one, sorry.)
With Vanecek vacated for the extra skater, the Bears never found the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Alex Alexeyev (goal, even) 2) Casey DeSmith (36 saves on 39 shots) and 1) Stefan Noesen (two goals, +2)
The Good: Couple things. Bears retooled this season and are set to be dangerous. Penguins going down early started smelling of trouble but DeSmith and Noesen made sure that the stench of the bad start wouldn’t remain….Noesen was quite the find, wasn’t he? Cut from Dallas’ camp, Mike Vellucci, who knows Noesen and coached him prior, rings him up, signs him to an AHL deal and he has an immediate impact. That’s something, despite my allegiance to all that Clark Donatelli did last year for this team, wouldn’t be able to do.
The Bad: Goals that came when they came for Hershey was when the Penguins defense was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. No, it’s not game just one and time to figure things out, the Atlantic is a bees nest this season and every point is crucial. I get that you’re not going to shutout every opponent, but there was a pattern tonight that didn’t look good.
Turning Point: Angello’s third period goal out of the box gave the Penguins that two goal cushion they were desperately seeking.
Around the Division: Lehigh Valley and all that offense they signed in the offseason get shutout in the Phantoms home opener 3-0 to the Big Bad Providence Bruins….Springfield trucks a good Bridgeport team 5-1….Hartford takes down the defending champion Charlotte Checkers 5-3.
Standings: Way early for this but we’ll do it anyway. Providence, Springfield, Hartford and Wilkes-Barre all on two, Hershey, Charlotte, Bridgeport and Lehigh Valley all on zero.
Wheeling Update: Nailers are still in preseason and don’t get going until next week for real.
Pens are off till next Friday when they are in Allentown taking on the Phantoms. News and notes as they come. I’m not going to put up the Pens expanded stats yet until after next week and no Power Rankings this week either, those will debut the week after. But for any news and notes before then, have a great week and we’ll talk to you next Friday.
Let’s Go Pens!