I was fortunate enough to attend the game tonight so I figured I would fill everyone in on how the recent cuts from Pittsburgh looked tonight. Hershey didn’t play many well known guys. Kyle Greentree and Brian Willsie were about the only players I recognized for the Bears. For the Pens, Chris Conner and Tim Wallace did not play tonight. Line combinations and recap after the jump.
Brett Sterling (A) – Joe Vitale – Nick Johnson
Chris Collins – Ben Street – Keven Veilleux
Nick Petersen – Joey Haddad – Geoff Walker
Jesse Boulerice – Zach Sill – Ryan Schnell
Corey Potter(A) – Steve Wagner(A)
Brian Strait – Robert Bortuzzo
Carl Sneep – Drew Fata
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins played their third of four preseason games tonight at home against the
Hershey Bears. Both teams are still waiting on final cuts from their respective NHL teams, but I was rather impressed with a few guys tonight from the Penguins.
After killing off the game’s first two penalties, the Penguins got a power play of their own. They were awarded a 5-on-3 power play 21 seconds later when Bears goaltender Todd Ford was whistled for delay of game.
Steve Wagner fed the puck to Brett Sterling in the slot, and Sterling sent a nice cross-ice pass down low to Nick Johnson, who buried a one-timer in off the crossbar to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Later in the first period, the Penguins added to their lead. As a Penguins power play was ending Joey Haddad nudged the puck into the offensive zone for Geoff Walker. Walker stopped on a dime and fed a cross-ice pass to Nick Petersen, who beat Ford low to the glove side to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Bears got back into the game in the second period. Carl Sneep fumbled with the puck after a Bears dump in and on the ensuing pressure Brian Willsie knocked a rebound past John Curry at the 8:30 mark of the middle frame. Curry made a few nice saves through heavy traffic in front, but he could not control his rebounds and the defense could not clear the zone.
While Curry played the entire game, the Bears replaced their starting goaltender Ford and also played Jared Demichiel. The switch was made at about the halfway point of the game. Ford finished with 17 saves on 19 shots on the night.
The game got a little physical in the later half of the second period. Drew Fata and Joel Rechlicz squared off after Curry had made a save and less than a minute later Ryan Schnell and Grant McNeill were going at it in the other end.
The Bears tied the game at two near the end of the second period on a tic-tac-toe passing play with a wide open Kyle Greentree tapping a puck into what was basically an empty net. Greentree snuck in behind the defense and ended up all alone by the top of the crease.
The biggest excitement of the night came in the early goings of the third period. Zach Sill and Kaleigh Schrock went toe-to-toe at center ice. For having a rather feminine first name, Schrock really let loose some haymakers, as did Sill. The helmets were taken off pre-fisticuffs and the fans were given a real treat.
Both players took heavy blows and neither guy seemed like he was going to fall down. Zach Sill’s final blow, a forearm shiver to the jaw of Schrock, ended the fight when Schrock lost his balance and the linesmen jumped in.
It was one of the best hockey fights I have witnessed in a long time. Two guys throwing everything they had at one another, taking punishment and staying in there and really battling it out. But I digress, back to the game.
The Penguins broke the tie midway through the third period on a power play goal from Chris Collins. It wasn’t a hard shot, to be kind, but it had enough on it to get past Demichiel through a nice screen set up in front by Walker.
Another power play was awarded to the Penguins just 61 seconds later, but this time with a different result. After a series of sloppy passing and missed opportunities, the Penguins gave up an unassisted shorthanded goal to Zach Miskovic and the game was back to a deadlock, 3-3.
The Penguins took a power play into overtime but couldn’t capitalize, and the game went to a shootout. Veilleux and Petersen scored for the Penguins in the shootout and Curry stopped all four of the Bears’ shooters in route to the victory.
It was the first victory of the preseason for the Penguins as they have gone 1-1-0-1 so far. They’ll finish their preseason schedule tomorrow night at the Giant Center in the second half of a home-and-home series with the Bears. The Penguins will then have a week off for practice and final roster moves before opening their season at home next Saturday against these same Hershey Bears.
The three guys who really impressed me the most tonight were Keven Veilleux, Nick Petersen and Brett Sterling.
Veilleux has been tearing it up in the preseason. He has scored three goals and added an assist tonight to his preseason point total. He missed all but the first nine games of last season due to injury, but has really impressed so far. He’s a big kid, listed at 6-foot 5-inches and 218 pounds, and is good with the puck down low. Consistency is definitely a concern but I really have a good feeling about him and hope he will develop this season in Wilkes-Barre and have a good year.
Petersen scored a goal tonight and added the winner in the shootout. He looked great with the puck, passed well, and was very quick. He’s not a lock to make the AHL squad but if he keeps up his strong showing it will be tough for him not to be in the lineup next weekend.
Sterling played on the top line, and was one of the three Penguins with the "A" on his jersey tonight. He had an assist on Johnson’s power play goal in the first and had several good scoring chances, including a hard wrist shot that caught post at the top corner. If he stays in Wilkes-Barre for a substantial part of the season, he should put up great numbers and WBS Penguins fans will fall in love with his ability to create offense.
If anyone has questions/concerns about any of the other guys who played tonight, be heard and I can fill you in on what I saw from them in tonight’s game.