It’s not really how you start, it’s how you finish.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins finally scored first in a regular season game; twice actually, and went up 3-1 at the end of the first period and looked great.
But in the end, they would lose 5-3 to the San Antonio Rampage. I thought it was more of Rampage goaltender Ville Husso adjusting to the new arena; San Antonio hasn’t been here in ten years, vs. the Penguins dominating and controlling the play. The Rampage heavily outshot the Penguins and their lethal power play struck three times to essentially carry the day for the Rampage in a game that was otherwise even.
There was some earlier news to report Friday morning as it was announced that the Penguins signed Reid McNeil to a PTO. McNeill you’ll recall was with the Penguins until 2016-17 when he was dealt for, at the time, offensive threat Danny Kristo. That trade ended up being a disaster as Kristo never caught on and was later traded in the Spring of 2017.
Further, Zach Trotman’s conditioning assignment may end up being more than just that as he was placed on waivers Friday. You’ll know after noon Saturday if someone puts a claim in on him.
Later, Pittsburgh traded Erik Gudbranson to Anaheim for Andreas Martinsen. Martinsen will report to Wilkes-Barre. A big power forward with some international experience. If the name is faintly familiar to you, you will remember him with his time with the Rockford IceHogs in the past two seasons.
Hell, the last we haven’t even gotten to the game story yet.
Emil Larmi opposed Ville Husso.
Lineup: Essentially Macoy Erkamps for Kevin Czuczman. Head Coach Mike Vellucci told Tyler after the game that there isn’t an update on Czuczman yet, he’s doing well but they don’t want to rush him. He also said that Reid McNeill will report Saturday and Martinsen will be here Monday.
First Period: A hot start by the Penguins if there ever was one. The very first shift, three good quality shots on Husso that needed to be saved. Stefan Noesen later scored this highlight reel goal to make it 1-0 Penguins.
Joseph Cramarossa banged home a rebound and it was 2-0.
Second assist of the night for Macoy Erkamps who acquitted himself well in my opinion.
Nathan Walker, yes the Australian who scored all those points with Hershey these past few seasons, was the bur in the saddle of the Penguins all night and scored on a nifty deflection to cut the Penguins lead to one.
A puck deflects off of a linesman to Andrew Agozzino who scored against his former team to make it a two goal lead for Wilkes-Barre and it was 3-1.
False sense of security for the Penguins,. because it was all downhill from there.
Second Period: Nathan Walker scored :13 into the period on a carryover power play that made it 3-2.
You could feel the momentum going from a ripple to a tidal wave. San Antonio scored another power play goal when Klim Kostin tapped in a feed from, who else, Nathan Walker and it was tied.
Oh, they weren’t done. A Mitch Reinke knuckler from the point found its way in and the Rampage led 4-3.
Rampage outshot the Penguins 29-17 to this point. They were the better team all night, Husso just had a nightmare start and the Pens had a few early shots go in.
Third Period: Emil Larmi did not come out for the third period, instead being replaced by Casey DeSmith.
No penalty on the play. Vellucci told Tyler after the game that Larmi fell ill and was not injured but doesn’t anticipate him being available Saturday. Dustin Tokarski will most likely either start or back up DeSmith at that time.
I don’t know if I buy Vellucci’s explanation at all, by the way. Time will tell.
Wilkes-Barre had the brighter start, but San Antonio scored their third power play goal of the game when Nick Lappin scored to make it 5-3.
(no GIF here, sorry)
Vellucci pulled DeSmith with about four minutes remaining. San Antonio, despite controlling the possession of the puck for a good majority of the time DeSmith was vacated, was unable to score on the empty net. Impressive.
Three Stars: Macoy Erkamps (two assists) 2) Nathan Walker (two goals, assist) 1) Klim Kostin (goal, assist)
The Good: The start was good but in the end, not sustainable.
The Bad: Can’t win a game in the first period. San Antonio kept picking themselves off the mat and kept firing, the Penguins now 30th out of 31 AHL teams penalty kill didn’t stand a chance.
Turning Point: Going to give it to the start that the Pens had in the third and the momentum which was flushed away when Lappin connected for the third power play goal of the night. There is no coming back from that.
Around the Division: Thunderbirds trounce Bridgeport 7-4….Charlotte beats Lehigh Valley in a shootout 3-2….Hartford still hasn’t lost in regulation, they beat Laval 2-1 in overtime. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Hartford 13 – Providence 11 – Hershey 9 – Charlotte and Springfield 8 – Lehigh Valley and the Penguins 7 – Bridgeport 4.
Wheeling Update: As fate would have it the Penguins ECHL affiliate hosted the St. Louis Blues ECHL affiliate Tulsa Friday night and…. The San Antonio Rampage are the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Nailers win 6-4. Jan Drozg had a pair of goals and an assist.
The two teams rematch Saturday at 7:05. Gameday setup is here Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!