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WBS Weekly: 11-16-15

A weekend filled with history for the WBS Penguins...and more still to be written.

WBS Weekly, 11-16-15

Let's start off this Monday with some happy things, shall we? Let's all put down our torches and pitchforks for a few minutes and marvel at what Mike Sullivan and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are accomplishing in the early weeks of the 2015-16 AHL season.

November 13 vs. Hershey

The Penguins carried an eight-game winning streak into this past weekend's three-in-three, opening up on Friday night against their longtime rivals, the Hershey Bears. Over the years, WBS and Hershey have contested some epic battles in both the regular season and playoffs, but on this Friday the 13th, it was nothing but bad luck for the 11-time Calder Cup champions from Chocolatetown.

WBS started the party early, punishing Hershey's Conor Carrick for clearing the puck out of play in his own zone with a powerplay goal at 4:59 of the first period. Conor Sheary brought the puck into the offensive zone down the left side, swooped down to the goal line, then attempted a centering pass. It got deflected, but not totally, and it floated into just enough space for Kael Mouillierat to fire it home. Derrick Pouliot also took an assist on the goal, and the first period saw no further scoring as it ended 1-0.

The second period presented more problems than Hershey goalie Dan Ellis could handle. At 0:19 of the second, Dominik Simon took a pass from Carter Rowney at the bottom of the right circle and, from a very sharp angle, wired a wrister to the roof of the net. Tim Erixon also contributed an assist. At 7:39, Sheary took a pass from Simon at center ice, streaked into the zone, sped around his defender, and unleashed a wicked shot over Ellis's left shoulder to the corner of the net. Very impressive individual play. Finally, with Hershey's Chris Brown off for goaltender interference, Scott Wilson continued his torrid ways with a powerplay goal at 10:34, assisted by Mouillierat and Sheary. That would be all for Ellis, as Justin Peters took his place.

The game got rough from there, as lopsided Hershey/WBS games tend to do, with lots of late hits, general shenanigans, and a fight or two. But give WBS credit...except for a Wilson slashing call in the third, they kept their composure and cranked three more goals out of the third period. First, Jean-Sebastien Dea scored a goal very reminiscent of Sheary's in the second, darting around his defender and going top shelf far side. Assist to Sheary at 9:25. Then, with time winding down and Hershey's Sean Collins in the box for high sticking, Oskar Sundqvist found himself with the puck in close but facing away from goal, and he backhanded it in anyway. Erixon and Oleksy with assists at 18:21. Then, as the goal was being announced, Tom Kuhnhackl kicked a spectacular extra point with a deflection of a slapper from David Warsofsky. Josh Archibald tacked an assist as well at 18:46.

Final score: WBS 7, Hershey 0. A historic loss for the Bears:

Oh, by the way...another Matt Murray shutout.

Fifty career appearances in a WBS uniform, 14 shutouts.

Line combinations:

Porter-Rowney-Simon

Kostopoulos-Sundqvist-Uher

Sheary-Wilson-Mouillierat

Dea-Archibald-Kuhnhackl

Pouliot-Oleksy

Warsofsky-Andersen

O'Neill-Erixon

Powerplay: Wilson-Mouillierat-Kostopoulos-Sheary-Pouliot

Porter-Simon-Dea-Warsofsky-O'Neill

Penalty kill: Porter-Kuhnhackl-Andersen-Warsofsky

Pouliot-Oleksy-Sundqvist-Uher

Three stars:

3) Kael Mouillierat, WBS; one goal, one assist

2) Conor Sheary, WBS; one goal, three assists

1) Matt Murray, WBS; 24-save shutout

November 14 VS. Rochester

Rather than stay in the WB and attend this game, I chose to travel to Newark to attend the Pittsburgh Penguins game at the New Jersey Devils. I will leave coverage of that game and its aftermath to my fellow writers, since those are memories I really don't want to revisit...

WBS, meanwhile, hosted the Rochester Americans on Saturday night and, by all accounts, turned in a dominating performance, winning 3-1. WBS outshot Rochester 42-16 on the evening, getting an unassisted goal from Dea at 7:24 of the second and a powerplay goal from Warsofsky at 15:36 of the second (assists to Simon and Will O'Neill) to power the offense. Goaltender Tristan Jarry came within 18.7 seconds of recording his first professional shutout, conceding a goal to Rochester's Phil Varone at 19:41 of the third, but the goal was quickly answered by an unassisted empty-netter from Sundqvist at 19:48 to restore the two-goal margin of victory. With the win, WBS set a new franchise record with its 10th straight victory, the longest such single-season streak in its history.

Three stars:

3) Tristan Jarry, WBS; 15 saves on 16 shots

2) David Warsofsky, WBS; game-winning goal

1) Jean-Sebastien Dea, WBS; unassisted goal

November 15 at Hartford

The Penguins closed their weekend with a 4 pm start in Hartford, their third game in a span of 48 hours.  This weekend was the first of 8 3-in-3s that the Penguins faced this season, and with a third game in that short of a time frame and a long bus ride up to Hartford, this fan was not at all surprised that Hartford exploded to a 5-1 lead over the first 20 minutes.  Only a goal by Tom Kostopoulos stopped the period from being a complete whitewash, as starting goaltender Murray did not last beyond the first period, replaced by Jarry.

It would also not have surprised me if the game proceeded in the fashion of the first, with Hartford dominating play on its way to stopping the winning streak of the Penguins at 10 games.  What would transpire, however, was one of the more remarkable periods of hockey in the history of the Penguins.

Kael Mouillierat, 1:58. Derrick Pouliot, 11:10, on a power play.  Kevin Porter, 13:34, shorthanded.  Scott Wilson, 15:03.  Porter again, 18:04.  Five goals in the second, a shot total of 21-6 in the second period alone, and a 6-5 WBS lead after 40 minutes.

WBS almost survived the third period with a victory, but were denied by former Penguin Jayson Megna at 18:51 of the third, sending this game to overtime.  Fortunately, though, WBS entered the overtime session on a power play, and while it technically was not a power play goal, WBS employed the advantage to great success as Scott Wilson did this.

Final score: WBS 7, Hartford 6. Another perfect weekend for the Penguins, and the team’s 11th straight victory, which is currently the longest such streak in franchise history, no matter if you count multiple season streaks.

Three stars:

3) Jayson Megna, HFD; game-tying goal

2) Kevin Porter, WBS; two goals

1) Scott Wilson, WBS; two goals, including the game-winner in OT, one assist

TEAM LEADERS (after the games of November 15)

(all statistics courtesy of theahl.com, compiled after the games of November 15 concluded)

  • Goals - Scott Wilson, 9 (T-4th in the AHL with 2 others)
  • Assists - Conor Sheary, 12 (T-3rd in the AHL with 1 other)
  • Points - Wilson, 15 (T-8th in AHL with 2 others)
  • Rookies - Dominik Simon now has 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in 13 games, good for 3rd in the AHL in rookie scoring.
  • Goalies - Matt Murray: 8-1-0 (tied for league lead in wins with 2 others, GAA 2.03 (6th in AHL), save pct 93.6% (4th in AHL), two shutouts; Tristan Jarry 4-0-0, GAA 1.64, save pct 93.8% (Murray is sorted among league leaders with more than 240 minutes played; Jarry has only played 220:01 this season, so he is not yet sorted among the league leaders)
  • Special Teams: Power play 27.6% (2nd in AHL); penalty kill 90.2% (3rd in AHL)
  • Team Points Percentage: 0.923 (first in Atlantic Division, first in Eastern Conference, first in AHL)

THE WEEK AHEAD:

November 20 at Binghamton, 7:05 pm EST

November 21 at Albany, 5:00 pm EST

Listen to me here. I implore you. If the parent team in Pittsburgh is giving you fits, tune in their farm team in WBS one time. Whether it’s through AHL Live, online radio through www.wilknewsradio.com, or stopping by the WB and picking up a ticket to a game, check out this team.  They are absolutely worth your time and money.