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WBS Weekly: The Streak Is Eleven

WBS overcomes a shaky penalty killing night to defeat Binghamton 4-3 and extend their point streak to 11 games.

WBS Penguins

This past week in the history of the WBS Penguins was unusually quiet, as WBS only had one game on its schedule: a familiar trek up I-81 North to Binghamton to face an unfamiliar foe, the Binghamton Devils.

What Changed

Only one addition to the rosters this week, as Christian Thomas rejoined the WBS Penguins after his stint representing Team Canada. Some slightly disconcerting news on the injury front, though, as it was revealed on Friday morning in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader that the injuries facing Tom Sestito and Tom Kostopoulos were serious enough to classify each as “week to week”.

November 17: WBS 4 @ Binghamton 3

Adam Johnson dropped down to join Teddy Blueger and Thomas DiPauli on what we really shouldn’t consider a “fourth line”, with Colin Smith jumping up to center Dominik Simon and the returning Thomas. Jarrett Burton also slotted into the lineup in place of Garrett Wilson, who was excused from Friday’s game for personal matters.

Lukas Bengtsson’s return to health following his absence on Sunday provided an easy roster solution to Andrey Pedan’s three-game suspension.

It did not take WBS very long to establish itself in this game, as Ryan Haggerty continued his torrid pace since joining the WBS lineup by taking a pass from the short neutral zone in Binghamton by Jean-Sebastien Dea, slipping behind the defense, and firing his 7th goal of the year past Binghamton goalie Appleby at just 0:12 of the first period.

Binghamton responded later in the period, as with Zach Aston-Reese in the box for holding, Brandon Gignac scored his 2nd of the year to tie the game at 1.

In a very fitting bookend to how they opened the period, WBS took the lead once again as Teddy Blueger set up Thomas DiPauli with a beautiful wraparound pass for DiPauli’s 7th of the year, scored with just 18 seconds left in the first. 2-1 WBS after 20 minutes.

Binghamton would once again equalize in the second period, again on a power play. With Aston-Reese again in the box, this time for delaying the game, Bracken Kearns for Binghamton had his first shot blocked, but the block fell right back to him, so he fired again and beat WBS goalie DeSmith for his 2nd of the year. The second period ended in a 2-2 tie.

Adam Johnson provided the breakthrough in the third period, as he took a Teddy Blueger pass from behind the net and fired home a vicious slapshot from the left circle for his 2nd of the year at 9:55 of the third. Christian Thomas provided some much-needed insurance at 12:08 of the third as what appeared to be a flubbed shot from in front trickled through Appleby’s legs for a 4-2 lead.

Thomas’s goal proved to be invaluable, as Binghamton would complete a 3 for 8 power play night with Jacob McDonald’s 5th of the year at 15:22 of the third. Binghamton was not able to get another equalizer, though, and WBS escaped from Binghamton with a 4-3 victory and points from its 11th straight game.

DeSmith finished with 31 saves on 34 shots for his 8th win of the season. Appleby took the loss, saving 14 of 18 WBS shots.

Three stars: 3) Jacob McDonald, BNG, one goal, one assist; 2) Christian Thomas, WBS, game-winning goal; 1) Teddy Blueger, WBS, two assists

Standings (through the games of November 19)

  • Atlantic Division: 1) WBS 11-2-1, .821; 2) Lehigh Valley 10-5-2, .647; 3) Providence 8-5-2, .600; 4) Charlotte 10-7-0, .588; 5) Bridgeport 9-7-0, .563; 6) Hershey 8-8-2, .500; 7) Hartford 7-8-3, .472; 8) Springfield 6-12-1, .342
  • North Division: 1) Toronto 13-4-0, .765; 2) Rochester 9-5-2, .625; 3) Laval 9-7-2, .556; 4) Belleville 8-8-1, .500; 5) Binghamton 6-8-1, .433; 6) Utica 6-8-1, .433; 7) Syracuse 4-9-3, .344
  • Central Division: 1) Manitoba 11-5-2, .667; 2) Cleveland 7-4-3, .607; 3) Rockford 10-7-0, .588; 4) Iowa 8-6-2, .563; 5) Milwaukee 8-7-0, .533; 6) Grand Rapids 8-8-2, .500; 7) Chicago 4-9-2, .333
  • Pacific Division: 1) Tucson 8-2-3, .731; 2) Stockton 10-4-1, .700; 3) San Antonio 10-5-1, .656; 4) Texas 8-8-1, .500; 5) San Diego 7-7-1, .500; 6) San Jose 6-7-1, .464; 7) Ontario 5-7-1, .423; 8) Bakersfield 5-8-1, .393

Statistics (through the games of November 19)

  • GOALS: Daniel Sprong - 9 (T-7th in AHL, leads all rookies); Ryan Haggerty, Thomas DiPauli - 7 (T-18th in AHL); Jean-Sebastien Dea, Christian Thomas, Gage Quinney - 4; Dominik Simon, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sestito, Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese, Jarred Tinordi, Adam Johnson - 2
  • ASSISTS: Dominik Simon - 10; Kevin Czuczman - 9 (T-5th among AHL defenders); Lukas Bengtsson - 8 (T-10th among AHL defenders, T-7th among rookies, T-2nd among rookie defenders); Teddy Blueger - 6; Andrey Pedan, Garrett Wilson, Jean-Sebasiten Dea, Daniel Sprong - 5
  • POINTS: Daniel Sprong - 14; Dominik Simon - 12; Kevin Czuczman - 10 (T-11th among AHL defenders); Ryan Haggerty, Thomas DiPauli, Jean-Sebastien Dea - 9; Christian Thomas, Teddy Blueger, Lukas Bengtsson - 8 (7th among rookie defenders)
  • GOALIES: Casey DeSmith 8-0-1, 2.06 GAA, .933 save percentage, one shutout; Tristan Jarry 3-2-0, 3.18 GAA, .897 save percentage, no shutouts (currently promoted to Pittsburgh)
  • SPECIAL TEAMS: Power play 16.4%, 20th in AHL, three shorthanded goals allowed; penalty kill 85.2%; 5th in AHL, two shorthanded goals forced

Player of the Week

I guess it’s kinda hard to pick out a player of the week when the week only consists of one game, but Teddy Blueger’s two sterling assists on Friday certainly qualify in this case. On the heels of highlighting his linemate Thomas DiPauli last week, it’s fitting that Blueger gets the plaudits this week; the two have excelled in the early part of the year on the penalty kill, with their speed and tenaciousness causing problems often for power plays attempting to move up ice.

The Latvian forward joined WBS out of Minnesota State in March 2016 on an entry level deal/amateur tryout agreement combination (another college free agent signing, hint hint), proceeding to set the WBS rookie record for plus-minus (however relevant that stat is nowadays) in 2016-17 with a +24 in 54 games, alongside 7 goals and 24 assists in his rookie campaign. Through 14 games in 2017-18, Blueger has recorded 2 goals and 6 assists.

The Week Ahead

WBS faces a much busier week on this Thanksgiving week, hosting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday, November 22, at 7:05 pm EST, then contesting a home-and-home series with Syracuse. WBS travels up to the War Memorial in Syracuse on Black Friday, November 24, at 7:00 pm EST, with WBS then hosting Syracuse on Saturday, November 25, at 7:05 pm EST.