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WBS Weekly: Back Down to Earth

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WBS begins the Pennsylvania part of their October schedule by allowing Hershey’s first win of the season, then splitting a Phantoms home and home.

WBS Penguins

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17: Hershey 3, WBS 2

With Matt Murray’s return to health confirmed, Pittsburgh sent Tristan Jarry back to WBS on Monday, October 15, taking back Derek Grant in the process. Much to the consternation of some in the WBS fanbase, Jarry was immediately slotted back into the starting net for Wednesday’s contest against Hershey. The move made sense, if you consider Pittsburgh’s goal of ensuring Jarry getting a starter’s workload, but you can’t help but feel for Anthony Peters, who saw a 3-0 record, a sub-1 GAA, and a save percentage nearing 97% relegated to the backup role.

WBS opened the week with their first game of the season against the Hershey Bears, who came into the contest suffering the worst start in its long and illustrious history, failing to get any points out of their first 5 games.

So it seemed only logical that Hershey would end WBS’s perfect start.

Hershey started fast, getting Axel Jonsson-Fjallby’s first goal of the season just 1:40 into the game on their very first shot of the game. Hershey expanded the lead in the dying seconds of the second period through noted Bears pest Liam O’Brien’s third of the season. WBS came out strong in the third period, getting goals by Tobias Lindberg and Garrett Wilson less than two minutes apart to even the score, but it was Jayson Megna, the former WBS Penguin, breaking the tie in favor of the Bears at 6:19 of the third to give the Bears what they needed to clinch their first win.

Jarry finished with 25 saves on 28 shots to take the loss. Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek stopped a remarkable 40 of 42 WBS shots to take the victory and well-deserved third star honors. Lindberg’s goal earned him second honors, while Megna’s winner earned him top honors.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19: WBS 5, Lehigh Valley 4

What a back and forth contest this was. Neither team was able to hold a lead for any substantial length of time throughout the contest, and it’s only fitting that the final goal of the night would be enough.

WBS’s Linus Ölund struck first with an unassisted goal at 17:17 of the first, but Mike Vecchione answered it at 19:22 of the first. Sam Miletic scored his first of the season at 2:18 of the second, Philippe Myers answered it just 46 seconds later. Zach Aston-Reese scored his second of the season at 13:12 of the second, T.J. Brennan matched it on the power play at 2:36 of the third. Greg Carey scored another power play goal at 3:30 of the third, then Teddy Blueger matched that at 6:59 of the third.

It would come down to the new captain of the Penguins to finally settle things.

That’s Wilson’s third of the season, and with only 1:03 left in the game, Lehigh Valley ran out of time to match it.

Tristan Jarry stopped 28 of 32 shots to take his first victory of the season, while Carter Hart’s early season struggles continued as he stopped only 28 of 33 shots for the loss.

Teddy Blueger’s equalizer to make it 4-4 in the third earned him third star honors. Brennan’s equalizer to make it 3-3 in the third, plus an assist on Carey’s goal, gave him second honors. Garrett Wilson’s late winner was enough for top honors on the evening.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20: Lehigh Valley 6, WBS 3

Second game in as many nights, and the second goaltenders would take the stage.

Sam Miletic started the game on fire, scoring his second and third goals of the season at 7:27 and 11:19 of the first period to stake WBS to an early 2-0 lead, but Lehigh Valley would recover with the next three goals of the game through Mark Friedman, German Rubtsov, and Phil Varone. Ethan Prow tied the game at 14:38 of the second, but from there Lehigh Valley took over as Rubtsov scored his second of the game in the final minute of the second, then Philippe Myers and Chris Conner scored in the third to pull the Phantoms away. Lehigh Valley converted on two of its three power play attempts in this game, while WBS did not get any power plays at all; this made coach Clark Donatelli especially annoyed postgame:

If you’re shown a particular play in game preparation, you’d think you’d know how to defend it once you see it on ice, right? WBS clearly did not, and LV took advantage.

Of note also in the third period is Will O’Neill instigating a fight against Taylor Leier with 34 seconds left in the game, racking up 27 minutes of penalties that included a game misconduct for instigating within the last 5 minutes of the game. Per AHL rule 46.22:

A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime (see 46.12), shall automatically be suspended for one game. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties. When the one-game suspension is imposed, the player’s Coach and Club shall each be fined five hundred dollars ($500) – a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.

As a result of this, O’Neill will likely miss WBS’s next game, this Friday, October 26 against Hershey. Look for this to be confirmed later today, as the AHL releases most of its weekend suspensions on Mondays.

Anthony Peters saw his sterling stats crash back to the ground, stopping 31 of 37 shots and taking his first loss of the season. Alex Lyon, in his first action for Lehigh Valley of the season, stopped 42 of 45 WBS shots for the win and second star honors. Sam Miletic’s two-goal first period was good for third star, while top honors went to Lehigh Valley’s German Rubtsov with two goals.

At the conclusion of this week, WBS sits in third place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2-0 record through 6 games and a .667 points percentage.

Around the rest of the Atlantic Division:

  • After its home and home with WBS, Lehigh Valley traveled to Bridgeport and lost 4-3 in a shootout. The Phantoms end the week fourth in the Atlantic, with a 3-2-1 record and a .583 points percentage; goalie Carter Hart has a GAA of 4.28, a save percentage of .865, and a 1-2-1 record in four appearances. Defender T.J. Brennan leads the Phantoms in points with 10 (three goals, 7 assists), followed closely by Phil Varone’s 9 (3 and 6) and Greg Carey’s 8 (4 and 4).
  • Hershey continued its road trip into Charlotte, dropping a shootout loss to the Checkers 4-3 on Friday before shutting them out 2-0 on Saturday to hand the Checkers their first loss of the season. Hershey stays in last place in the Atlantic with a 2-5-1 record and a .313 points percentage through 8 games; Liam O’Brien is the Bears points leader, with 4 goals and 1 assist. Charlotte leads the Atlantic on wins tiebreaker, going 5-1-0 in its first 6 games for a .833 points percentage; Charlotte is led by Andrew Poturalski’s 9 points (2 and 7), followed by 7 points each by Nicolas Roy (5 and 2) and Janne Kuokkanen (4 and 3).
  • Bridgeport played a home and home with Providence on Friday and Saturday, winning in overtime on Friday at home before traveling to the P-Bruins on Saturday and losing 5-2 before defeating the Phantoms 4-3 in a shootout, as stated above. The Sound Tigers currently sit sixth in the Atlantic with a 3-3-1 record and a .500 points percentage through 7 games; Michael Dal Colle leads the Sound Tigers with 3 goals and 5 assists, followed by Devon Toews with 1 goal and 5 assists. Providence is in seventh place in the Atlantic with a 2-4-1 record and a .357 points percentage; the P-Bruins are led by center Colby Cave’s 5 goals and 2 assists for 7 points.
  • Hartford took a 4-3 decision out of Belleville on Friday before traveling to the defending champions, the Toronto Marlies, on Saturday and falling 3-2. The Wolf Pack sit fifth in the Atlantic, with a 4-3-1 record and a .563 points percentage through 8 games; Hartford’s points leader is center Lias Andersson, with 3 goals and 5 assists; Chris Bigras and Peter Holland each have 1 goal and 6 assists to tie for second.
  • Springfield traveled to Laval this weekend and took two decisions from the Rocket, 5-3 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday. Not to be overshadowed, though, is the solo effort of former Penguins prospect Ken Agostino, who scored this beauty on Saturday for Laval.

The Thunderbirds are tied with Charlotte for the division lead on points, with a 4-0-2 record and 10 points through 6 games. Leading the T-birds are Anthony Greco (4 goals and 5 assists) and Harry Zolnierczyk (2 goals and 7 assists).

WBS returns to its home ice this Friday, October 26, for the first half of a home and home series with the Hershey Bears, start time 7:05 pm EDT. WBS then travels to Hershey on Saturday, October 27 at 7:00 pm EDT.