WBS Penguins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds - October 21st
You read that correctly, folks...they are not the Springfield Falcons anymore. The Falcons were purchased by the Arizona Coyotes over the summer and relocated to Tucson as the Roadrunners. In response, the Portland Pirates were relocated to Springfield and became the Thunderbirds. So rather than take on the prospects of the Coyotes, the Penguins opened their second weekend of the season by taking on the prospects of the Florida Panthers.
Whereas the Penguins found very little resistance from the Hartford Wolf Pack in their home opener, they found much more resistance from Springfield, as the Thunderbirds came roaring out of the gates to the tune of a 12-8 shot advantage after 20 minutes and a 19-15 advantage after 40 minutes. WBS starting goaltender Tristan Jarry was largely solid in net, allowing only a very weak dribbler through his legs at 9:25 of the first period off the stick of Ryan Horvat. Jarry stopped all 22 other shots he faced, but unfortunately, that one weak goal would be all that Springfield needed, as their starting goaltender Reto Berra stopped all 23 shots he faced, including a stellar save off a deflection in the final seconds, to backstop the Thunderbirds to a 1-0 shutout victory.
WBS's line combinations and defense pairings on this night were as follows, according to what I could see:
- Jake Guentzel/Carter Rowney/Tom Kostopoulos
- Kevin Porter/Jean-Sebastien Dea/Dominik Simon
- Ryan Haggerty/Sahir Gill/Reid Gardiner
- Josh Archibald/Oskar Sundqvist/Garrett Wilson
- Tim Erixon/Cameron Gaunce
- Reid McNail/Chad Ruhwedel
- Steve Oleksy/Stuart Percy
- First PP unit: Erixon, Guentzel, Rowney, Kostopoulos, Simon
- Second PP unit: Ruhwedel, Dea, Sundqvist, Porter, Haggerty
- First PK unit: Archibald, Porter, Gaunce, McNeil
- Second PP unit: Oleksy, Haggerty, Sundqvist, Erixon
Third star honors on this night went to Jarry, for his 22 saves on 23 shots. Second star honors went to Ryan Horvat, for the game's only goal; top honors, naturally, went to Berra, for the shutout. The WBS PP went 0 for 4, while the penalty kill went 5 for 5.
WBS Penguins vs. Syracuse Crunch - October 22nd
The second game for the weekend brought a much more familiar foe to the WB, as the Syracuse Crunch came to town. Line combos and defense pairings on this night were as follows, as the Penguins looked to rotate in some extra forwards to alleviate the 3 in 3 grind:
Jarret Burton/Haggerty/Adam Krause
The first period progressed without any scoring, though both teams took 10 shots. In the second period, however, things started to open up. With Tom Kostopoulos in the box for roughing at 7:58 of the second period, Kevin Porter took a pass from Josh Archibald, zipped in alone on a shorthanded breakaway, and beat Syracuse goalie Adam Wilcox high to the glove side for a shorthanded goal and a 1-0 lead. WBS would go on to kill the penalty, but they took another one just five seconds after the penalty expired as Steve Oleksy sat for elbowing. Ordinarily, this would be a problem, but not for Porter, who stole a weak breakout pass, broke in alone again, and scored high glove on Wilcox again for his second shorthanded goal in as many penalty kills and a 2-0 lead. Unlike the previous penalty, though, Cory Conacher converted the power play into the first Syracuse goal just 21 seconds after Porter's second goal to cut the lead to 2-1. That was only the first penalty WBS had failed to kill in its first three games.
That lead would last until the third period despite heavy Syracuse pressure in the third, and it was expanded when Dominik Simon fired home his first goal of the year in spectacular fashion, taking a Kevin Porter pass between his legs and firing a slick wrister above Wilcox's glove for 3-1, which would turn out to be the final score.
Simon's goal was good enough for third star honors. WBS goalie Casey DeSmith took the win, saving 26 of 27 shots and earning second star honors, but the clear star of the night was Porter, with two shorthanded goals and an assist for a three-point night. The WBS PP was blanked again in eight opportunities, while its PK killed 4 of 5 opportunities.
WBS Penguins @ Hershey Bears - October 23rd
The Penguins closed their weekend by traveling down I-81 for its first of 12 meetings this season with their bitter rivals, the Hershey Bears.
Expected #WBSPens Lines:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) October 23, 2016
Expected #WBS D-Pairings:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) October 23, 2016
As one would expect, the team playing its second game in two nights (Hershey) largely controlled the early going against the team playing its third game in three days (WBS), outshooting WBS 23-21 through the first 40 minutes and getting the first goal of the game through Riley Barber at 16:37 of the second despite WBS getting four straight power plays in the second period.
In 2015-16, the first goal between WBS and Hershey predicted the eventual game-winner in every instance, both regular season and playoffs. Fittingly, with a new season came new trends, as Jake Guentzel scored his second of the season at 9:57 of the third to tie the game, and WBS would go on to do enough to get the game to 3 on 3 overtime.
In the extra session, WBS largely dominated, getting all 5 shots on goal, culminating in a Dominik Simon breakaway that turned into a penalty shot after he was slashed on the attempt.
Ballgame. WBS wins 2-1 and takes four out of a potential six points in the weekend to maintain pace with the Atlantic Division leaders.
Third star honors went to Hershey rookie goaltender Vitek Vanacek, who stopped 33 of 35 shots in a losing effort. Second star honors went to Dominik Simon, with the game-winning goal in overtime, while top honors went to WBS goalie Tristan Jarry, who stopped 30 of 31 Hershey shots for his second victory of the season.
Statistics (through October 22)
Goals - Jake Guentzel, Kevin Porter, Dominik Simon - 2 each to lead the team; Carter Rowney, David Warsofsky, Oskar Sundqvist, Josh Archibald, and Jean-Sebastien Dea all have 1 each
Assists - Guentzel leads with 3; Rowney second with 2; eleven players each have 1
Points - Guentzel leads with 5; Rowney and Porter have 3 each; Simon, Warsofsky, Sundqvist, and Archibald have 2 each
Goalies - Tristan Jarry 2-1-1, 1.33 GAA, 95.0% save percentage; Casey DeSmith 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, 96.3% save percentage
Special Teams - Power play 2 for 18, good for 11.1% (after starting 2 for 2 on opening night, no goals in 16 chances this past weekend), Penalty kill 18 for 19, good for 94.7% and two shorthanded goals forced
Fight Tracker - Patrick McGrath 2, Reid McNeill 1
Standings - WBS's record of 3-1-0 ties for the early division lead with Springfield. Bridgeport and Hartford are 2-2-0, while Lehigh Valley stands fifth at 1-1-0, Hershey sixth at 1-2-1, and Providence last at 1-3-1.
The Week Ahead
October 26 - Albany at WBS, 7:05 pm EDT
October 29 - WBS at Springfield, 7:05 pm EDT
October 30 - Syracuse at WBS, 3:05 pm EDT