A lesson in patience Friday night in Utica for the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
After a masterful performance in goal by Dustin Tokarski would appear to be for naught, the Penguins pick up two goals in the span of :34 seconds and beat the Utica Comets 2-1.
Tokarski was beat in the first minute of the game by what was essentially an own goal by Macoy Erkamps. The Penguins as a team looked okay from there on out, but could not crack Comets goalie Michael DiPietro at all in the first or second periods.
Finally, Zach Trotman’s power play goal with about six minutes left to play in the third period tied the game for the Penguins and then later Trotman’s shot was deflected by Jordy Bellerive for a goal that gave the Penguins the lead for good.
It was a very solid performance by the team tonight and one that they will be looking to build on. Utica came into tonight second overall in the AHL in offense but was shutout in two games last weekend by Providence and Rochester and only scored two goals in Binghamton on Wednesday. What was the last undefeated team in the AHL has not lost four straight and are reeling.
What I am trying to say is, with all due respect to the opponent, it would have been a shame if the Penguins lost this game.
Here’s how they lined up on both sides tonight:
Zane McIntyre backed up DiPietro for Utica, not Richard Bachman.
Lineup Notes: Niclas Almari picked up what’s being described as a, “middle body injury” so Justin Almeida slotted in up front and but for Almari, went with the same defensive unit they did on Wednesday. Ryan Haggerty stayed in the lineup over other vets Joseph Cramarossa and Andreas Martinsen. Emil Larmi was cleared medically and was a healthy scratch.
First Period: I’ll let my opening tweets speak for themselves here.
It was actually a Macoy Erkamps own goal to my eyes.
Erkamps looks like he wanted to pass it back to Tokarski to cover and, well, that happened.
Wilkes-Barre settled down a bit after that, but it could have been a false front on the basis that they had two power plays but failed to cash. Shots were 12-8 Penguins heading into the…
Second Period: Benign period. Pens opened with a power play, then the teams were four on four for an odd concurrent delay of game penalty then the Penguins had to kill a power play late. Both goalies remained sharp.
Third Period: Tokarski continued to be sharp and dialed in stopping a shot / pass from Tyler Graovac to Brogan Rafferty that was a good play but not enough to add on to the Comets lead. Later, Josh Teves was caught holding with 6:20 left to play in regulation and Zach Trotman connected for this goal that leveled the score line:
Homemade videos tonight. Glad it wasn’t a five goal affair.
:34 later, Trotman stayed on and fired a shot which was deflected for a goal by Jordy Bellerive that put the Penguins out front 2-1.
With the way that Tokarski was dialed in, all the Penguins needed to do was stay the course which they did and they picked up their first regulation win since October 16 at home against Binghamton.
Three Stars: 3) Mitch Eliot (goal) 2) Zach Trotman (goal, assist) and 1) Jordy Bellerive (game winning goal)
The Good: Obviously the power play came through tonight, because that would have been, “the bad” otherwise had the Penguins not won considering they had four opportunities. Honorable mention to Tokarski, who was dialed in and really should have had a shutout but for the Erkamps gaffe.
The Bad: Whenever the opponent scores just one goal its seen as nitpicking, but that Erkamps gaffe in the first could have been a costly error and a one way ticket out of town.
Turning Point: You don’t need me to say it but I will, the power play goal by Trotman finally broke the wall down for the Penguins in a game where they pressed all night and then Bellerive’s goal shocked the Comets right out of the building.
Around the Division: In the game to watch tonight in Hartford, the Wolf Pack defeat the Hershey Bears in regulation 2-1 to stay hot and at the top of the Atlantic….Charlotte did the same to Springfield 2-1. Lehigh Valley, Providence and Bridgeport had the night off.
Standings: Hartford 21 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre 14 — Charlotte 11 — Bridgeport 9
Wheeling Update: Make it five wins in a row for the Nailers, who pick up a 4-1 win over the Reading Royals. Ryan Scarfo had a pair of goals. Alex D’Orio picked up the win.
Video Highlights: If Utica posts em, I’ll run an edit. If Wilkes-Barre does the same, I’ll still run the edit.
Pens bus home for a home game Saturday night against Syracuse, the Crunch’s first and only visit this season. If you come to the game Saturday and notice something different, it isn’t your eyes…
Can’t wait to see what it looks like in person Saturday. Gameday setup here on the blog at 3 Saturday afternoon.
Let’s Go Pens!