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WBS Weekly: The Comeback Penguins

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WBS turns a 1-0 deficit into a win on Saturday, then a 4-1 deficit in Hershey on Sunday into another win to finish with a perfect weekend.

Photo by WBS Penguins

The WBS Penguins kicked off their week by doing business with some Senators, as they sent defender Stefan Elliott and forward Tobias Lindberg to the Ottawa Senators organization for forward Ben Sexton and defender Macoy Erkamps. Neither Sexton nor Erkamps figured into any of the three games this weekend for WBS, but per WBS’s press release, both are ticketed to join WBS.

In addition, WBS will send “future considerations” to Ottawa’s farm team, the Belleville Senators, in exchange for Belleville’s Ryan Scarfo. Scarfo was able to join WBS in time for this weekend’s 3 in 3, and he was able to play in all 3 of the games.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7: Cleveland 0 @ WBS 1

First up this weekend were the Cleveland Monsters. This was something of a frustrating game to watch, as WBS was only able to put 20 shots on goal all game, with 13 of those in the second period. One, though, managed to go in.

Believe it or don’t, but that is Ryan Haggery’s first goal of the season, a power play goal, after he posted 16 in 47 games last season.

Amazingly, that’s all WBS would need on this night, as goaltender John Muse stopped all 32 Cleveland shots he faced for his first victory in three tries and first shutout for WBS.

The WBS power play went 1 for 3 on the evening, while its much-maligned penalty kill shut down both Cleveland power plays it faced.

Muse’s opposing number, Jean-Francois Berube, finished with 19 saves on 20 shots for third star honors. Haggerty took second honors with his goal, while Muse took top honors.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8: Bridgeport 1 @ WBS 3

No rest for the winners on this weekend, as less than 18 hours after Muse’s shutout, WBS found itself back on the ice for a rare Saturday afternoon game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

While WBS was able to kill off Bridgeport’s first power play of the afternoon, they were not able to kill off the second as Otto Koivula deflected in a Sebastian Aho slap shot for his 7th goal of the year to put Bridgeport up 1-0.

The Sound Tigers were able to see that lead through the end of the first period and all of the second, despite WBS outshooting Bridgeport 17-8 in the second. In the third period, though, WBS’s defenders proved to be the difference.

First up is the first AHL goal for defender Jeff Taylor to tie the game at 1:47 of the third, assisted by Will O’Neill and Thomas DiPauli.

Following that just 1:14 later was Ethan Prow’s 7th of the season, assisted by Sam Lafferty and Troy Josephs. Watch out for Prow come All-Star time, I’m just saying.

Prow’s goal was the difference, as Teddy Blueger deposited his 7th of the season into an empty net at 18:47 to close out the proceedings and push WBS back above .500 for the season. The WBS power play did not convert either of its chances, while its PK repelled 3 of Bridgeport’s 4 power plays.

Despite the shutout the night before, WBS turned to Anthony Peters in net on account of the short turnaround between games, and Peters responded with 21 saves on 22 shots for third star honors on the evening. Jeremy Smith for Bridgeport finished with 29 saves on 31 shots in the losing effort. Prow’s goal got him second star honors, while Taylor’s goal gave him top honors.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9: WBS 5 @ Hershey 4 (SO)

Back to Muse in net for the conclusion of the 3 in 3 in Hershey, but the Bears were ready for their guests as former WBS Penguin Jayson Megna scored his 7th of the year for Hershey 4:38 into the game, then Riley Barber scored his 9th of the year on a power play at 13:28 of the first.

WBS started to answer at 8:50 of the second, as Kevin Czuczman scored his 2nd of the year.

This goal seemed to spur the Bears to greater action, as an ill-advised blue line pinch by WBS led to a Bears 3 on 1, which Liam O’Brien finished for his 12th of the year at 13:41, then Tyler Lewington scored off the back of Muse’s skate at 14:33 to put the Bears up 4-1.

To their credit, WBS’s danger duo of Teddy Blueger and Thomas DiPauli did not give up.

Blueger’s 8th of the year at 16:12 of the second, then DiPauli’s 7th with just 5 seconds to go in the second, brought WBS back to 4-3. Despite outshooting the Bears 11-4 in the third period, it took to the very last minute for WBS to tie it as Ethan Prow fired home his 8th of the season off a beautiful centering pass from Teddy Blueger and a dynamite zone entry from Adam Johnson.

(Let’s not go with Ethan WOW, though.)

The much-maligned WBS penalty kill dispatched a Hershey PP in overtime with Prow in the box to help get this game to a shootout, which went to nine rounds before the best hair on the team finished a perfect weekend for the Penguins.

John Muse finished with 22 saves on 26 shots in regulation/overtime, but a perfect 9 for 9 in the shootout. Hershey’s Vitek Vanecek ended with 26 saves on 30 shots. The WBS power play did not convert on any of its 3 chances, while the penalty kill dispatched 4 of 5 chances to finish the weekend with 9 successful kills in 11 chances.

Cramarossa’s shootout winner earned him third star on the night. Teddy Blueger added two assists to his goal to earn second honors, while Jayson Megna took top honors for his goal and a very solid game otherwise.

WBS improved to fifth place in the Atlantic after its perfect weekend, with a record of 12-10-4 and a percentage of .538. The power play regressed to a 15.0% success rate on the season, 23rd in the AHL, while the penalty kill marginally improved to 74.3% and is no longer worst in the league thanks to the Binghamton Devils falling to worst with a kill percentage of 72.4%.

Teddy Blueger leads the Penguins with 8 goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 26 games. Ethan Prow and Anthony Angello also have 8 goals each, followed by Thomas DiPauli and Adam Johnson at 7 goals each. Sam Lafferty also has 12 assists, followed by Ryan Haggerty’s 10 assists.

The remainder of the Atlantic Division standings at the end of the weekend:

  1. Charlotte Checkers: 19-6-1, .750
  2. Lehigh Valley: 14-8-2, .625
  3. Springfield Thunderbirds: 13-7-4, .625
  4. Bridgeport Sound Tigers: 14-8-4, .615
  5. WBS Penguins: 12-10-4, .538
  6. Providence Bruins: 11-10-4, .520
  7. Hartford Wolf Pack: 11-12-3, .481
  8. Hershey Bears: 11-13-2, .462

Among division players, Greg Carey and Phil Varone lead Lehigh Valley with 28 points each (Carey 12 goals and 16 assists, Varone 11 goals and 17 assists). Also at 28 points is Springfield’s Jayce Hawryluk with 7 goals and 21 assists. Charlotte checks in with Janne Kuokkanen at 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points, then Andrew Poturalski at 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points. Springfield’s Anthony Greco and Hartford’s Peter Holland finish in the league’s top 20 as well with 23 points each (Greco 12 goals and 11 assists, Holland 6 goals and 17 assists).

I will be taking my annual visit to Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend to check in on the parent club, so once again, the Weekly will be taking a week off. I’ll check in one more time before Christmas, but in the meantime, WBS’s schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, December 12 at Springfield, 7:05 pm EST
  • Saturday, December 15 vs. Lehigh Valley, 7:05 pm EST (Teddy Bear Toss night)
  • Sunday, December 16 at Bridgeport, 3:00 pm EST
  • Wednesday, December 19 vs. Bridgeport, 7:05 pm EST
  • Friday, December 21 at Hershey, 7:00 pm EST
  • Saturday, December 22 at Syracuse, 7:00 pm EST