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WBS Weekly: February 6, 2017

A stumble against an old friend, and utter destruction of division rivals.

WBS Penguins

February 4th: St. Johns 5 @ WBS 2

The WBS Penguins opened up the second half of their schedule with the return of an old friend to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, as longtime fan favorite Bobby Farnham led the North Division’s third place team, the St. John’s IceCaps, into the WB to take on the league’s best team. The North Andover, MA native Farnham spent three seasons with WBS, tallying a total of 17 goals and 22 assists in his 217 regular season and playoff games, but it was his 714 penalty minutes, approximately 5,481 hits (just guessing here), and boundless energy that endeared him to fans, and upon his return, Farnham received a stellar “welcome home” video and a rousing ovation from the crowd of 4,822.

As for the game, STJ defender Ryan Johnston opened the scoring just 1:02 into the game with his third goal of the season, but in true WBS comeback fashion, the lead lasted just 1:35.

(Don’t mind the pink ice. We’ll get to that in a bit.)

That is indeed Ethan Prow’s first goal for WBS, the first of his AHL career, set up beautifully by the captain Tom Kostopoulos at 2:37 of the first.

Speaking of beautiful goals by defenders...

Truth be told, I’ve been waiting to see Derrick Pouliot do that for a very, very long time. Running the point on the power play, finding a shooting lane, and burying it.

It was almost 3-1, but David Warsofsky put this shot just a bit wide.

WBS led 2-1 after one period, but STJ forward Daniel Carr leveled the proceedings at 14:53 of the second with his third of the year.

The third period was very messy and disjointed, with a total of six power plays awarded between both teams, a seemingly early stoppage by the officials with the puck on the STJ goal line, and (unfortunately for the home side) three STJ goals, by Michael McCarron at 4:57; Carr again at 14:00 on a power play; and Farnham at 19:08 into an empty net. Final score: STJ 5, WBS 2, and only the fifth regulation loss by WBS at home all season thanks primarily to a failure to score on both a 4-minute PP and an extended 5 on 3 in the final 25 minutes. All-Star goalie Tristan Jarry stopped only 21 saves on 25 shots to suffer his eighth regulation loss of the season.

The loss, coupled with Lehigh Valley’s 3-2 comeback win against Albany on Friday, brought the Phantoms to within seven standings points and two games in hand leading into...

February 5th: Lehigh Valley 1 @ WBS 7

Before the All-Star Challenge, responding to a question from Scott Matla of Eyes on the Prize about what he learned from the previous year to this year, Tristan Jarry offered these thoughts.

One of the biggest things this offseason was working with Mike Bales and Mike Buckley, they did a great job working with me on my game, the mental aspects and the physical too. They told me what needed to be done and what needed to happen for me to succeed in this league and that’s one of the things I’ve really focused on this summer and it’s really helped me.

Jarry faced his first huge mental test of the season on Saturday, as one night after allowing four goals to St. Johns, coach Clark Donatelli went right back to Jarry against the league’s second-best team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, bucking a trend the All-Star coach has followed fairly rigorously this season by playing Jarry on most Fridays and backup Casey DeSmith on the following Saturdays.

Boy, did Jarry respond. The entire WBS team responded, in fact, with devastating impact on the annual WBS “Pink in the Rink” night honoring cancer survivors.

Lehigh Valley controlled the first part of the game, holding possession for the first 4 or 5 minutes but not getting anything to show for it. Once WBS got possession, though, they went right to work as Tom Kostopoulos, on his 600th game for the WBS Penguins, scored his 16th of the season on a 2 on 1 with Kevin Porter sprung by Tom Sestito.

Roughly four minutes later, Garrett Wilson made a strong 1 on 1 rush against Lehigh Valley’s Reese Willcox, and while he was unable to get a shot away, he cleared enough of a lane for the trailing Josh Archibald to take a centering pass and rifle it past Anthony Stolarz for 2-0 at 11:11 of the first.

The night would only get worse for Stolarz, as 5:25 later and with Barry Goers in the box for tripping, Porter sprung Archibald free shorthanded with a gorgeous clearance, and Archibald finished spectacularly for WBS’s fifth shorthanded goal of the season and a 3-0 lead over the Phantoms after 20 minutes.

The rest of the game proceeded much as the first 20 minutes.

Garrett Wilson, 4-0.

Sahir Gill, 5-0.

After Lehigh Valley’s only goal of the night, a Chris Conner deflection on a 5 on 3 PP...

Danny Kristo, 6-1.

And just to put a cherry on top of it...

The captain’s second of the night, and that was it. WBS 7, Lehigh Valley 1.

Jarry responded very well to his second game in as many nights, stopping 30 of 31 shots for his 20th win of the season. Stolarz ended with only 25 saves on 32 shots.

I would draw your attention to the 2:15 mark of that video to find out why you don’t board someone 8 inches shorter than you. Especially when one Tom Sestito is on the ice.

STATISTICS (through February 5)

Goals: Jake Guentzel 21 (currently on recall to Pittsburgh); Tom Kostopoulos 17; Oskar Sundqvist 14; Jean-Sebastien Dea 12; Garrett Wilson/Josh Archibald 11 each

Assists: David Warsofsky 24; Guentzel 21; Kevin Porter/Dominik Simon 20 each; Sundqvist/Kostopoulos 19 each

Points: Guentzel 42 (4th in AHL); Kostopoulos 36; Sundqvist/Warskofsky 33 each; Wilson 28; Porter 27; Simon 26; Archibald 22

Goalies: Tristan Jarry 20-8-1 (tied for most wins in AHL with Jack Campbell of Ontario), 2.24 GAA (6th in AHL), 92.0% save percentage (10th in AHL), one shutout; Casey DeSmith 13-2-2, 2.26 GAA (T-8th in AHL), 91.3% save percentage (T-17th in AHL), no shutouts

Special Teams: Power play 17.2%, 17th in AHL, one shorthanded goal allowed; penalty kill 86.9%, 1st in AHL, 5 shorthanded goals forced

Fight Tracker (courtest of Patrick McGrath 7 (fought Stefan Matteau of STJ on Friday), Garrett Wilson 5, Tom Sestito 4 (fought Samuel Morin of Lehigh Valley on Saturday, as seen above), Cameron Gaunce 2, Ryan Haggerty 1, Josh Archibald 1, Carter Rowney 1, Tom Kostopoulos 1

Standings: 1) WBS, 75.5% (1st in AHL); 2) Lehigh Valley, 68.9% (2nd in AHL, two less games played than WBS); 3) Providence, 65.2%; 4) Hershey, 61.7%; 5) Bridgeport, 61.4%; 6) Springfield, 46.7%; 7) Hartford, 41.5%


Wednesday, February 8 vs. St. John’s, 7:05 pm

Friday, February 10 vs. Hershey, 7:05 pm

Saturday, February 11 vs. Binghamton, 7:05 pm

WBS took its first game of 6 at home against the Phantoms this season, but there are still five more to go in the WB and four in Allentown. Still plenty of potential roadblocks on the way to the playoffs, and keep in mind...WBS is without its two biggest prospects, Jake Guentzel and Carter Rowney, both on recall to Pittsburgh. Who knows if we in the WB will ever see either of them again, but if we do, the most dangerous team in the AHL will be that much more dangerous.