Two games on the road this past week for the WBS Penguins, both in the state of New York, neither of which I was able to watch, so I won’t take up too much of your time this morning.
November 20th at Binghamton
Most hockey rinks in the American Hockey League are your standard size, 200 feet long by 85 feet wide, with blue lines 64 feet away from the goal lines (per AHL Rule 1). The Floyd Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, however, is not one of those rinks. Due to the smaller size of the arena, the rink’s dimensions are closer to 185 feet long by 85 feet wide, so in order to maintain the size of the attacking and defending zones, the neutral zone is around 15 feet narrower than usual, making it all the more imperative that teams make smart plays and not turn the puck over. A turnover in the wrong place can lead to a breakout the other way much faster than it would on a full-size ice rink.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton made its first visit to the short ice of Binghamton on Friday night riding an 11-game winning streak, but on this night, the honors would belong to the Senators, who dispatched their I-81 rivals 3-1 despite being outshot 41-31 by WBS. Two goals in the first period by Mike Kostka (power play, 2:29) and Cole Schneider (18:19) were too much for the Penguins to overcome, despite the dynamic Dominik Simon tallying his sixth goal of his rookie season at 16:26 of the second. David Dziurzynski’s empty-netter at 18:46 of the third solidified the victory, WBS’s first loss in over a month. Matt Murray took the loss, making 28 saves on 30 shots.
3) Mike Kostka, BNG; one goal, one assist
2) Cole Schneider, BNG; game-winning goal, one assist
1) Chris Driedger, BNG; 40 saves on 41 shots
November 21st at Albany
The Penguins then trekked up to Albany for their only visit to the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. After a scoreless first, WBS’s Jean-Sebastien Dea opened the scoring at 3:42 of the second, assisted by Josh Archibald and the returning Tom Sestito. Sestito, who had not seen the ice in several games, was no doubt inserted into the lineup on this day to cancel the presence of former WBS Penguin Pierre-Luc LeBlond on the Albany bench, and sure enough, no sooner did the puck drop after the Dea goal than LeBlond and Sestito fought. Enforcers are still a thing in the AHL, and it is still a thing where opposing enforcers will fight. I do hope this changes on this level too.
Anyway, Mike Sislo for Albany answered the Dea goal at 7:51 of the second, on the power play. Then, WBS recorded two goals in a 1:48 stretch, as Scott Wilson recorded his tenth of the season from Derrick Pouliot and Conor Sheary at 11:09, then Carter Rowney scored his fifth off a Simon assist at 12:57. The second period ended 3-1 to WBS.
Albany managed to cancel the lead in the third, using goals by Reid Boucher at 1:07 and former WBS Penguin Paul Thompson at 8:30 to tie the game at 3. Happily for the Penguins, Sheary broke the tie at 14:52 with his third goal of the season, assisted by Wilson and Pouliot, to send WBS on its way to (hopefully) the start of another winning streak. Oskar Sundqvist hit an empty net at 18:47, assisted by Tom Kostopoulos and Sestito, to provide the final margin of victory, 5-3. The WBS net belonged to Tristan Jarry on this night, the second straight game on the road (nothing unusual, really), and he preserved his unbeaten record by making 25 saves on 28 Albany shots. Yann Danis took the loss for Albany, making 23 saves on 27 shots.
3) Reid Boucher, ALB; one goal, one assist
2) Conor Sheary, WBS; game-winning goal, one assist
1) Scott Wilson, WBS; one goal, one assist
(Stats are as of November 21, 2015, compiled from theahl.com after the games of November 21 concluded)
- Goals - Scott Wilson, 10 (T-3rd in AHL with 4 others)
- Assists - Conor Sheary, 13 (T-4th in AHL with 1 other)
- Points - Scott Wilson, 17 (T-6th in AHL with 4 others)
- Rookies - Dominik Simon is continuing his point-per-game average with 15 points in 15 games, good for fifth place among AHL rookies.
- Matt Murray 8-2-0, GAA 2.03 (7th in AHL), save pct 93.6% (5th in AHL), two shutouts
- Tristan Jarry 5-0-0, GAA 1.93, save pct 92.8% (Jarry not among league leader rankings because he has played 280 of the required 300 minutes to be among the leaders; otherwise, his GAA would be 5th best in the league, and his save percentage would be 9th best in the league)
- Special Teams: Power play 25.0% (T-3rd in AHL with one other), penalty kill 88.3% (6th in AHL)
- Team Points Percentage: 0.867 (1st in division, 1st in conference, 1st in AHL)
The Week Ahead
November 25th at Binghamton, 7:05 pm EST
November 27th vs. Providence, 7:05 pm EST
November 28th vs. Hershey, 7:05 pm EST