This week for WBS began on Thursday morning, with the recall of Tristan Jarry to Pittsburgh following Matt Murray’s latest concussion. To compenate, Pittsburgh sent forward Derek Grant to WBS, though Grant was not able to join the team for their first game in Cleveland in 10 years.
Thursday, October 11: WBS 3, Cleveland 0
WBS wasted very little time getting on the board, as Garrett Wilson took advantage of an interference penalty from former Penguin Mark Letestu to score his first goal of the season.
WBS maintained command throughout the first period, ending with an 18-12 shot advantage.
In the second, with Gabriel Carlsson in the box for interference, Sam Lafferty scored his first of the year.
WBS continued its advantage right into the third period, as once again, with a Cleveland Monster in the box (this time Doyle Somerby for cross checking), the big rookie Anthony Angello scored his first of the year.
Cleveland ended the game with a remarkable 11 minor penalties, and full credit to WBS for connecting on three of them.
On the other end, Anthony Peters was perfect, stopping all 28 shots Cleveland threw at him for his second win of the year and his first shutout, putting the finishing touches on a 3-0 victory. His counterpart, Jean-Francois Berube, finished with 36 saves on 39 WBS shots for the loss.
Peters’s shutout earned him top honors on the evening, with Garrett Wilson’s game-winner earning second honors and defender Stefan Elliott taking third honors with two assists.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13: WBS 4, Cleveland 1
For the rematch on Saturday, Derek Grant drew right into the top line, dropping Adam Johnson down to Teddy Blueger’s line, Thomas DiPauli to Linus Ölund’s line, and Tobias Lindberg out of the lineup. On defense, Jeff Taylor replaced Will O’Neill, as Grant’s introduction into the lineup put WBS over the veteran limit.
Cleveland ensured there would be no repeat shutout at 7:30 of the first, as Kevin Stenlund scored his second of the season. Cleveland saw the 1-0 lead through to the intermission, but WBS reasserted control in the second period.
I could say that Angello scored his second of the season at 3:13 of the second period, but I feel this goal requires two clips to adequately show it off.
That’s exactly what I want to see from the big rookie — position in front and cleanup of rebounds from short range. I wouldn’t expect him or ask him to clean up everything with such flash, behind the back between his legs, but WBS (and ultimately Pittsburgh) will undoubtedly benefit if he can develop net-front cleanup into a trend this season.
Just 3:45 later, free agent acquisition Jimmy Hayes opened his WBS account.
More net-front cleanup, second chances. Very encouraging to see.
Then there was this, to extend the advantage to 3-1 at 10:55 of the second.
Slick, slick deflection in front by Grant to join Hayes in scoring his first goal for the Penguins organization.
Buoyed by the two-goal lead, Peters took over.
That’s just one example of several sterling silver saves made by Peters in the second and third periods to shut down the Monsters attack, and when Teddy Blueger scored his first of the year into an empty net at 17:57 of the third, the Penguins clinched max possible points from Cleveland on the road this season with a 4-1 victory.
Shots were much closer in this game, ending 34-33 to WBS, and there were far fewer penalties, with each team conceding three power plays instead of the previous game’s 11 for Cleveland and six for WBS.
Third star honors were given to Kevin Stenlund for being the only player in two games to solve Peters. Hayes took second star for his cleanup goal, while Peters took top honors for 32 saves on 33 shots.
Through his first three games, Peters boasts a perfect 3-0 record with a .980 GAA, second in the league as of this writing, and a .968 save percentage, which ranks third in the league.
We’ll pick up standings recaps and stats recaps at the beginning of November, to allow things to settle in a bit, but suffice it to say WBS is 3-0 to start the season, second only to Charlotte’s 4-0 start in the Atlantic Division (see below). Angello leads the team with two goals, and defender Stefan Elliott leads the team with three assists.
Around the rest of the AHL’s Atlantic Division
- Following a split of road games to open the season, Bridgeport returned home for two games against the Rochester Americans. Bridgeport conceded Saturday’s game 4-3, as Victor Olofsson scored with exactly one minute to play, then dropped another decision to the Americans 3-2 in overtime on Sunday as Olofsson once again scored the game-winner, this time at 1:46 of overtime.
- Charlotte is proving very early that they may be able to withstand the promotion of so much of its core from last year, defeating Utica 4-3 on Friday night and Syracuse 4-1 on Saturday night to improve to a 4-0 season start.
- Hartford is also coming out of the gates strong. The Wolf Pack opened with a midweek engagement at Binghamton, losing 5-3, then followed that up with an overtime loss to Providence on Friday night at the hands of a Cody Goloubef power play goal. Hartford avenged itself at Providence on Saturday with a 4-3 victory to improve to 3-1-1 in its first five games.
- Hershey’s early struggles continued, losing 6-3 at Grand Rapids in the first weekly Facebook Live free game of the season (check them out if you have a Facebook account; they are a great entry point preview of the new AHLTV service if you’re still on the fence), then losing again at Milwaukee 5-1. Despite the addition of former WBS Penguin Jayson Megna on Sunday morning, Rockford completed the Bears’ weekend by handing them a 5-2 defeat. Hershey is now 0-5 to begin the season.
- Lehigh Valley got absolutely destroyed at home at the hands of Springfield 7-0 on Friday night, then took vengeance on the Thunderbirds on Saturday night 5-4 in a shootout. Rookie Phantoms goalie Carter Hart was yanked from Friday’s game after allowing 4 goals on 16 shots in 27:19 of work. On Saturday, David Kase and Greg Carey scored two minutes apart in the final 2:23 of regulation, then Taylor Leier and German Rubtsov scored in the shootout.
- After destroying Lehigh Valley on Friday then losing in that shootout on Saturday, Springfield concluded its weekend with a 6-3 home victory against Providence. Thunderbirds forward and former WBS Penguin Harry Zolnierczyk concluded this weekend with two goals and seven assists for nine points in his first four games, tying Utica’s Reid Boucher (EIGHT goals, one assist) for the early league scoring lead.
- To recap, Providence defeated Hartford in overtime on Friday, lost at home to Hartford on Saturday, then lost 6-3 at Springfield.
The rest of WBS’s schedule this month stays within the state of Pennsylvania, with three games against Hershey and two against Lehigh Valley. That starts this week with the winless Bears visiting WBS on Wednesday, October 17 at 7:05 p.m. in WBS, followed by a home and home set against Lehigh Valley. WBS will visit the Phantoms on Friday, October 19 at 7:05 p.m, then the Phantoms come to WBS on Saturday, October 20 at 7:05 p.m.
Perhaps WBS will get a glimpse of the newest friend of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ mascot...