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WBS Weekly: Bear Fights

WBS took three out of four possible points this weekend to stay in the top half of the Atlantic Division pack.

via WBS Penguins

This week in WBS Penguins’ history began on Tuesday with the reassignment of goaltender John Muse to Wheeling, therefore establishing Anthony Peters as the second goalie in WBS behind the starter Tristan Jarry. Muse did not get into any regular season games for WBS this season prior to his reassignment.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26: Hershey 1, WBS 4

Great to see the young rookie Anthony Angello rejoin the lineup this weekend after his absence last season. No Will O’Neill, either, as he was in fact suspended by the AHL for one game for being called for an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of the third period of WBS’s 6-3 loss against Lehigh Valley for this incident.

You be the judge.

Personally, I think an instigator, a fighting major, and a game misconduct is really, really harsh for that, but those were the penalties given, and the rulebook clearly states that such penalties call for a one-game suspension, so there you go.

As for Friday’s game, and as for the players actually playing, things went extremely well for the home side.

I cannot say enough good things about Angello, even going back to his appearance at the end of last year’s playoffs in which he scored two goals in the elimination game against Charlotte. With that combination of size and skill, he is certainly a player to watch.

Notice also the stellar breakout pass by second-year pro Adam Johnson, his second assist of the season. Curiously, through the 7 games to this point, this was only Johnson’s second point of the year. This assist, though, served as a kind of catalyst for Johnson, who would record his first two goals of the season in emphatic fashion in the second period, the first of which was a simple enough cleanup play and the second being a bar-down snipe.

After Liam O’Brien broke Tristan Jarry’s shutout bid at 11:14 of the third with his Hershey-leading fifth goal of the season, Teddy Blueger answered at 15:24 of the third to restore the three-goal lead and make the final score 4-1 Penguins.

Aside from the O’Brien goal, Jarry stopped all 17 other shots he faced for his second win of the season. Hershey keeper Vitek Vanecek, fresh off Player of the Week honors, stopped 24 of 28 shots in the loss.

Third star went to Jarry for his efforts. Defender Chris Summers for WBS took second honors with two assists, while top honors clearly went to Johnson for his two goals and assist.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27: WBS 3, Hershey 4 (SO)

O’Neill drew back into the lineup for the return match in Hershey on Saturday, replacing the large rookie defender Matt Abt. Also, following Friday’s game, WBS sent forward Troy Josephs to Wheeling.

The tone was set early in the house of the 11-time champions, as Liam O’Brien and Garrett Wilson engaged in some fisticuffs just six seconds into the game. From there, it was a back and forth affair, with each of WBS’s three regulation goals answered by Hershey not long after.

First, it was Zach Aston-Reese, scoring his third of the season by himself.

You know what...he’s probably ready to go back to Pittsburgh at a moment’s notice.

WBS took the 1-0 lead into the locker room for the first intermission, but lost it just 39 seconds into the second period as a routine Hershey dump-in hit one of the glass dividers and caught Tristan Jarry way out of his net, leading to Mike Sgarbossa’s 3rd of the season.

WBS took its second one-goal lead of the game at 6:40 of the second through this remarkable recovery and backhand by Teddy Blueger.

Again, though, Hershey answered, as Riley Barber scored his first for Hershey this season shorthanded at 11:16 of the second. The second period ended 2-2 after 40 minutes.

In the third, WBS tried its hand at a lead again, as Ethan Prow finished off a gorgeous pass from (who else?) Adam Johnson to put WBS up 3-2.

Come to think of it, that’s a back door goal eerily reminiscent of Hershey itself.

This third lead for WBS didn’t last a minute, though, as Beck Malenstyn scored his first of the season for Hershey at 4:02 of the third.

Both regulation and overtime ended tied at three, so it came down to a shootout to decide the points. Aston-Reese and Jimmy Hayes failed to beat Hershey goaltender Ilya Samsonov, while Tristan Jarry stopped Sgarbossa, but not Barber nor Shane Gersich. Hershey 4-3 in a shootout for the second point.

Jarry ended with 35 saves on 38 shots in the losing effort, while the rookie Samsonov stopped 19 of 22 shots for his first win for Hershey. Jarry took third star for his efforts, Sgarbossa took second star for his goal and an assist, and Barber took top honors for his goal and his shootout goal.

WBS ends the week at 5-2-1 for 11 points through eight games, a percentage of .688 that is good for third place in the Atlantic Division. Captain Garrett Wilson leads the Penguins in points with seven (three goals and four assists), followed closely by rookies Sam Miletic (three goals, three assists), Anthony Angello (three goals, two assists), and Sam Lafferty (one goal, four assists). Don’t look past Johnson (two goals, three assists), Blueger (four goals), or Aston-Reese (three goals) either. Stefan Elliott and Chris Summers lead the defense with five assists each, while Ethan Prow has three goals in eight games to bring himself within one of his goal output from last season. Miletic, however, picked up an injury during the second period of the game on Saturday, and he is characterized as “week-to-week” by Coach Donatelli.

Around the rest of the Atlantic Division

  • The Bridgeport Sound Tigers found themselves on the road this weekend for two contests, taking a 5-4 decision out of Hartford on Saturday night before being utterly pounded 6-1 in Providence on Sunday to finish the week 4-4-1, .500 points percentage, and fifth in the division. Michael Dal Colle leads the Sound Tigers with three goals and five assists in seven games, followed by four players with six points each: Steve Bernier (five goals, one assist), Mitchell Vande Sompel (one goal, five assists), Devon Toews (one goal, five assists), and Sebastian Aho (six assists).
  • The Charlotte Checkers continued to establish themselves as an early favorite in the Atlantic by taking three victories this week: 3-1 at Utica on Wednesday, 4-3 at Binghamton in overtime on Friday, then 6-3 at Syracuse on Saturday to finish October 8-1-0, .889 points percentage, and tops in the Atlantic Division, the Eastern Conference, and the AHL itself by points percentage. Andrew Poturalski continues to pace the Checkers with 2 goals and 9 assists in 9 games, followed by Janne Kuokkanen (5 + 5), Nicolas Roy (5 + 2), and former Penguin Greg McKegg (1 + 6).
  • After falling at home to Bridgeport on Saturday, Hartford traveled to Springfield on Sunday and dropped a 6-2 decision to the Thunderbirds. The Wolf Pack end the week 4-6-1 with a .409 points percentage and tied for sixth place in the Atlantic. Centers Steven Fogarty and Lias Andersson tie for the points lead on Hartford with nine (Fogarty 5 + 4, Andersson 3 + 6), with Cole Schneider (3 + 5) and Peter Holland (1 + 7) close behind.
  • After their home and home split with WBS, the Hershey Bears closed out their weekend with a 3-1 home victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to finish 4-6-1, .409 points percentage, and tied for sixth in the Atlantic. Liam O’Brien leads the Bears with six goals and an assist, followed by Mike Sgarbossa at four and two, defender Connor Hobbs at one and five, Riley Barber at two and three, and defender Lucas Johansen at one and four.
  • Lehigh Valley took a 5-2 victory out of Binghamton on Saturday night before their defeat to Hershey to finish 5-3-1, .611 points percentage, and fourth place in the Atlantic. Center Phil Varone leads the Phantoms with three goals and 11 assists, followed by defender T.J. Brennan’s four goals and eight assists, Greg Carey’s five and six, and Nic Aube-Kubel’s three goals and four assists prior to his promotion to Philadelphia on Sunday.
  • Providence finishes the week 3-5-1 with a .389 points percentage and last place in the Atlantic after their loss at Springfield and their home destruction of Bridgeport. Center Colby Cave leads the P-Bruins with five goals and five assists, followed by rookie Cameron Hughes (4 + 4), winger Anton Blidh (2 + 4), center Mark McNeill (2 + 3), and Peter Cehlarik (5 assists).
  • Springfield finishes the week 6-0-2 with a .875 points percentage and second place in the division following their victories over Providence and Hartford. Former WBS Penguin Harry Zolnierczyk leads the Thunderbirds with four goals and eight assists, followed by rookie forward Henrik Borgstrom (4 + 7), Anthony Greco (4 + 6), Paul Thompson (5 + 4), Joel Lowry (2 + 7), and Jayce Hawryluk (1 + 8).

The Penguins open November with their first three-in-three of the season, hosting the Hartford Wolf Pack for two games on Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3 (both 7:05 pm EDT) starts. Then, with Daylight Saving Time granting them an additional hour to rest, they will travel up to Bridgeport for a 3:00 p.m. ET start to close the weekend.