This past weekend was the first annual WBS “Dads Trip”, where the fathers of certain WBS players would either accompany the team on their weekend trip to Canada or would meet them there. Also joining WBS in Canada was goaltender Adam Morrison, signed to his second PTO of the season after Casey DeSmith was recalled to Pittsburgh following Matt Murray’s leave of absence.
JANUARY 12: WBS 6 @ Belleville 2
Expected #WBSPens Lines:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) January 12, 2018
Expected #WBSPens D-Pairings:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) January 12, 2018
Starting Gs: #WBSPens - Anthony Peters— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) January 12, 2018
(3-2-1, 2.94 GAA, 902 sv%)
BEL - Marcus Hogberg
(2-1-0, 3.24 GAA, .899 sv%)
Six days after shutting out the Belleville Senators in WBS, the Penguins visited Belleville’s new home, the Yardmen Arena, for the first time for the rematch. Fortunately for WBS, the rematch went about as well as the first game.
Ryan Haggerty set the tone for the game and for his weekend with his 14th goal of the season 5:04 into the first.
The goal was answered by Belleville’s Colin White at 9:47 to make the score 1-1 at the end of the first.
From there, though, WBS took control. Although White scored his second of the game at 16:48 of the second, that came only after Haggerty’s second of the game at 3:38 of the second and newly anointed Olympian Christian Thomas’s 10th of the year at 5:23 of the second.
Haggerty completed the hat trick at 5:12 of the third with his 16th of the season.
Not satisfied with merely three goals, though, Haggerty added an assist to his tally of the night by providing the primary assist for Garrett Wilson’s 7th of the year at 14:17 of the third.
GOAL GIF: Make it 5-2 thanks to this beauty from Garrett Wilson. pic.twitter.com/mWzM60Htij— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) January 13, 2018
Belleville decided to pull its goalie very early, with around 4 minutes to go, to try to claw back, but all that happened was...
GOAL GIF: J.S. Dea out-races the opposition to put home the ENG pic.twitter.com/msad0XvDRS— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) January 13, 2018
Starting goalie Anthony Peters ended with 19 saves on 21 shots for a win in his fourth consecutive start for WBS. Olympian Christian Thomas’s goal earned him third star honors; Colin White’s two goals for Belleville earned second honors; Haggerty’s four point night was the clear standout for top honors.
JANUARY 13: WBS 4 @ Laval 3
Expected #WBSPens Lines:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) January 13, 2018
Expected #WBSPens D-Pairings:— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) January 13, 2018
Starting Gs: #WBSPens - Anthony Peters— Mike O'Brien (@MikeOBrienWBS) January 13, 2018
(4-2-1, 2.80 GAA, .902 sv%)
LAV - Michael MicNiven
(5-6-1, 3.43 GAA, .887 sv%)
Despite arriving in Laval less than 12 hours before game time, WBS took the ice for their return match against the Rocket three months after a furiously entertaining 6-5 WBS overtime victory at Mohegan Sun Arena. The return game at the brand-new Place Bell was no less furious, starting out quickly with Eric Gelinas’s 9th of the season just 32 seconds into the game. WBS answered quickly, though, off the rather long stick of Andrey Pedan.
With no further scoring in the first, Laval came out quickly again in the second period, with the Rocket’s second leading scorer Adam Cracknell scoring his 13th of the season just 1:03 into the second.
Just as in the first period, WBS answered again, but much, much more quickly.
From there, the WBS power play, much maligned lately in falling to 28th in the league at the end of last week, took over.
Well, more specifically, Andrey Pedan on the power play took over.
That’s right. Two power play goals in the second period, both by Pedan, for a hat trick.
Cracknell also scored a second goal in the period, his 14th of the year, to make the score 4-3 WBS after 40 minutes. From there, Peters slammed the door, stopping all 8 Laval shots in the third to keep the 4-3 score through to the end of the game.
Ryan Haggerty added two assists to his four-point night from the night before to earn third star honors. Cracknell’s two goals earned second star honors, but once again, hat trick trumps all, as Andrey Pedan took the top honors for WBS’s seventh straight victory. Combined with other results in the division over the course of the weekend, WBS has propelled itself back to the top spot in the Atlantic Division after dropping to as low as fourth during December.
STANDINGS (through the games of January 14)
- Atlantic Division: 1) WBS 23-10-3, .681; 2) Lehigh Valley 23-12-5, .638; 3) Providence 22-12-4, .632; 4) Bridgeport 18-13-6, .568; 5) Charlotte 21-16-1, .566; 6) Hershey 17-17-6, .500; 7) Springfield 17-21-2, .450; 8) Hartford 15-19-6, .450
- North Division: 1) Toronto 28-11-0, .718; 2) Rochester 23-9-7, .679; 3) Syracuse 23-12-3, .645; 4) Utica 17-14-7, .539; 5) Laval 16-18-7, .476; 6) Belleville 16-21-3, .438; 7) Binghamton 11-20-7, .382
- Central Division: 1) Manitoba 26-8-5, .731; 2) Milwaukee 20-14-4, .579; 3) Rockford 21-15-4, .575; 4) Chicago 19-14-7, .563; 5) Iowa 17-13-9, .551; 6) Grand Rapids 19-17-5, .524; 7) Cleveland 11-19-6, .389
- Pacific Division: 1) Tucson 19-11-3, .621; 2) Stockton 18-12-5, .586; 3) San Diego 19-14-1, .574; 4) San Antonio 21-16-2, .564; 5) Texas 20-15-5, .563; 6) Ontario 18-15-2, .543; 7) Bakersfield 16-14-6, .528; 8) San Jose 16-15-2, .515
STATISTICS (through the games of January 14)
- Goals: Daniel Sprong - 18 (T-3rd in AHL, T-1st among rookies; Ryan Haggerty - 16 (T-14th in AHL); Teddy Blueger - 11; Christian Thomas - 10; Jean-Sebastien Dea, Thomas DiPauli - 9; Garrett Wilson - 7; Gage Quinney - 6, Zach Aston-Reese, Colin Smith, Andrey Pedan - 5
- Assists: Kevin Czuczman - 20 (T-18th in AHL, 2nd among defenders behind Matt Taormina’s 30); Zach Aston-Reese - 16 (T-12th among rookies); Adam Johnson, Jean-Sebastien Dea - 14 (Johnson T-18th among rookies); Dominik Simon - 13; Garrett Wilson - 12; Ryan Haggerty, Colin Smith, Andrey Pedan, Teddy Blueger - 11
- Points: Daniel Sprong - 28 (T-5th in AHL among rookies); Ryan Haggerty - 27; Jean-Sebastien Dea - 23; Teddy Blueger - 22; Zach Aston-Reese, Kevin Czuczman - 21; Christian Thomas, Garrett Wilson - 19; Adam Johnson - 18; Dominik Simon - 17; Colin Smith, Andrey Pedan - 16
- Goalies: Casey DeSmith 12-5-2, .915 save percentage, 2.53 GAA, two shutouts; Anthony Peters 5-2-1, .900 save percentage, 2.83 GAA, no shutouts
- Special Teams: Power play 14.0%, 26th in AHL (despite going 3 for 10 this week), 8 shorthanded goals allowed (tied with Springfield for most allowed in AHL this year); penalty kill 83.4%, 13th in AHL, 5 shorthanded goals scored (T-9th in AHL)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Neck and neck race this week between the two Penguins scoring hat tricks this weekend, but the edge goes to Ryan Haggerty’s six points over Andrey Pedan’s five.
Remember when Haggerty was scratched for the first seven games of the year? Yeah, now he’s on a better than one point per game pace. I would advise you all to watch the AHL’s web site this afternoon, as the league has shown a pretty strong pattern of announcing its Players and Goalies of the Week on Monday afternoons; with a hat trick and three other assists in two games, I’d say Haggerty has a strong case this week.
Three games on deck this week, as WBS returns home quickly to host Lehigh Valley on Wednesday, January 17, 7:05 pm EST start. WBS then hits the road again as Arenacross takes up weekend residence at the arena. First up: Providence on Friday, January 19 at 7:05 pm EST; then, Hartford on Sunday, January 21 at 5:00 pm EST.
Also of interest this week is the Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic, scheduled for Saturday, January 20, at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA, as the Hershey Bears host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. I had the great pleasure of attending the Outdoor Classic five years ago, also at Hersheypark Stadium, when WBS defeated Hershey 2-1 in overtime. That night holds the distinction of being the coldest I’ve ever been (more so than either Pittsburgh outdoor game I’ve attended).
Of further interest is the Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic Alumni Game, scheduled for Friday, January 19 at Hersheypark Stadium between alumni of the Hershey Bears (plus Ray Bourque, Chris’s father) and alumni of the Philadelphia Flyers. Check out the rosters; there are a LOT of familiar Flyers and Bears names taking part in that alumni game.