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WBS Weekly: A rough, rough week of injuries and blowout losses for Wilkes-Barre

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WBS loses three defenders to injury on Friday in Rochester, which leads to the worst defensive performance in their history and, ultimately, only one point this weekend.

Friday, February 16: WBS 3 @ Rochester 12

That’s not a misprint.

You’ll see a new name in the forward list for this weekend’s games: Joseph Cramarossa, acquired midweek for Colin Smith in a trade with Stockton. The trade paid dividends, though not at first.

That’s how the defense pairings began, at least.

That’s how the goalies started, at least.

Less than 90 seconds into the game, Rochester forward Colin Blackwell forechecked hard on WBS defender Bengtsson and blasted him so hard that he flew off his skates and into the boards. No penalty was called on the play, though Blackwell was suspended for two games on Sunday morning. Bengtsson was removed from the game due to injury and did not play the rest of the weekend.

Later in the period, Chris Summers also picked up an injury. He also did not play the rest of the weekend.

In an attempt to get Blackwell to “answer” for his hit on Bengtsson, WBS forward Patrick McGrath took a roughing penalty, a misconduct, and a game misconduct at 13:34 of the first, putting WBS down 3 players.

Casey DeSmith was pulled after his fourth goal allowed at 2:53 of the second period. His replacement Anthony Peters...well, we’ll get to that.

Later in the third period, Frank Corrado also picked up an injury. He would also not play the rest of the weekend.

When the dust finally settled, Rochester ended with six power play goals and a total of 12 on the board, easily the most WBS has ever allowed in a game in their history and the most scored by any AHL team since 2002.

Greg McKegg, Cody Wydo, and Jarrett Burton scored for WBS, but they were consolation tallies.

Third star honors went to Rochester’s Alex Nylander, with two goals and two assists; second star went to Kyle Criscuolo of Rochester with two and two; top honors went to former Providence Bruin Seth Griffith, with two goals and three assists.

If you want to see the carnage for yourself...

Saturday, February 17: Utica 5 @ WBS 4 (OT)

Replenished by the callups of Dylan Zink and Jeff Taylor from Wheeling, WBS contested its annual Military Appreciation Night in front of a sellout crowd. Opposing WBS were the Utica Comets, in the third game of a brutal 7 game in 11 day stretch.

New addition Joseph Cramarossa opened his WBS account 9:31 into the first as he poked home a Gage Quinney shot that had dribbled through the legs of Utica goalie Thatcher Demko. The score stayed 1-0 for the majority of the second period until Tony Cameranesi buried a beautiful centering pass from David Dziurzynski at 17:27 of the first, which appeared to seriously rattle WBS as they would concede two more in the next 1:02...first from Michael Chaput, who forced a turnover at the WBS blue line then took it the length of the ice himself to score, then from Griffen Molino at 18:29 of the third. In the blink of an eye, 1-0 WBS turned into 3-1 Utica.

Then, some real nonsense happened.

As Daniel Sprong started to leave the ice after having a slapshot blocked by a Utica player’s stick (the stick did not survive the block, by the way), he bumped into said Utica player and gave him a vicious chop to his legs. It was one of the more blatant slashes I’ve seen Sprong give, and incredibly, no penalty was given on the play. Mere seconds later, the officials gave Wacey Hamilton a holding the stick penalty, a call that goaltender Demko loudly protested. The officials gave Demko an unsportsmanlike minor and a misconduct for abuse of officials, which gave WBS a full two minutes of 5 on 3 power play time.

They converted, as Jarrett Burton deflected home a Daniel Sprong point slap shot to draw the Penguins back to within 1.

WBS would use that momentum to take over the third period, as Ethan Prow buried a Cramarossa pass for his second of the year at 8:58 of the third to tie the game, then Garrett Wilson swatted a Burton pass out of midair to give WBS an unlikely 4-3 lead.

The Comets, though, were able to stave off the robbery, as Cole Cassels scored his fifth of the year off a net-mouth scrum with 2:40 to play to force overtime, then Patrick Wiercioch scored the game-winner just 49 second into overtime to give the Comets a well-deserved 5-4 victory.

Cramarossa’s goal and assist were good for third honors. Garrett Wilson’s goal and assist gave him second honors, while Wiercioch’s game-winner, paired with an assist of his own, earned top honors.

Sunday, February 18: WBS 1 @ Lehigh Valley 4

McGrath out, Josephs in.

As mentioned before, no Corrado, Bengtsson, or Summers again.

The 11th meeting of the season between WBS and Lehigh Valley served as the culmination of a lot of frustration for WBS, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Phantoms and looked rather dirty doing it, with the latter stages of the game punctuated by another uncalled Sprong penalty as he spun, then face-raked the returning Danick Martel at one point. Also of note was a dangerous hit by Garrett Wilson on Cole Bardreau into the boards and a Kevin Spinozzi elbow to the face of Bardreau.

As far as the scoring, WBS could only manage Jean-Sebastien Dea’s 12th of the season shorthanded as he deflected in a point shot by Jarred Tinordi. Three of Lehigh Valley’s 4 goals were special teams goals, started off by Oskar Lindblom on the power play at 15:21 of the first. Phil Varone scored his 14th at 1:43 of the second, Mike Vecchione scored his 13th of the year on a power play at 11:54 of the second, then with DeSmith out of the net on a power play late, Matt Read scored his 6th of the year into a shorthanded empty net.

Greg Carey assisted on two goals for third star honors; second star went to Travis Sanheim with two assists; John Muse took top honors with 22 saves on 23 shots to doom WBS to only one point on the weekend.

Even that might have been lucky.

STANDINGS (through the games of February 18, as abstracted from theahl.com)

  • Atlantic Division: 1) Lehigh Valley 33-14-7, .676; 2) WBS 30-15-5, .650; 3) Providence 30-17-5, .625; 4) Charlotte 30-21-3, .583; 5) Bridgeport 24-20-8, .538; 6) Hartford 25-23-7, .518; 7) Hershey 21-25-7, .462; 8) Springfield 23-28-3, .454
  • North Division: 1) Toronto 38-12-1, .755; 2) Utica 28-14-10, .635; 3) Rochester 26-13-14, .623; 4) Syracuse 30-18-5, .613; 5) Laval 19-26-8, .434; 6) Belleville 21-29-4, .426; 7) Binghamton 15-27-9, .382
  • Central Division: 1) Manitoba 32-13-7, .683; 2) Grand Rapids 28-18-7, .594; 3) Chicago 26-17-8, .588; 4) Iowa 25-16-10, .588; 5) Milwaukee 25-21-5, .539; 6) Rockford 26-22-6, .537; 7) Cleveland 17-27-7, .402
  • Pacific Division: 1) Tucson 28-15-3, .641; 2) San Diego 28-18-1, .606; 3) Texas 27-18-7, .587; 4) Stockton 24-17-5, .576; 5) Ontario 24-19-4, .553; 6) San Antonio 26-21-6, .547; 7) San Jose 22-20-6, .521; 8) Bakersfield 19-20-8, .489

STATISTICS (through the games of February 18, as abstracted from theahl.com)

  • GOALS: Daniel Sprong - 20; Ryan Haggerty - 16; Jean-Sebastien Dea, Teddy Blueger, Christian Thomas - 12 (Blueger on recall to Pittsburgh, Thomas on leave for the Olympics); Garrett Wilson, Thomas DiPauli - 10; Zach Aston-Reese, Gage Quinney - 9 (Aston-Reese on recall to Pittsburgh); Andrey Pedan, Jarrett Burton - 7
  • ASSISTS: Daniel Sprong, Zach Aston-Reese, Kevin Czuczman - 20; Jean-Sebastien Dea - 19; Ryan Haggerty, Adam Johnson - 15; Frank Corrado, Garrett Wilson, Teddy Blueger - 14; Dominik Simon - 13 (on recall to Pittsburgh)
  • POINTS: Daniel Sprong - 40; Ryan Haggerty, Jean-Sebastien Dea - 31; Zach Aston-Reese - 29; Teddy Blueger - 26; Garrett Wilson - 24; Kevin Czuczman - 23; Christian Thomas - 21; Gage Quinney - 20; Andrey Pedan, Adam Johnson - 19
  • GOALIES: Casey DeSmith 14-8-3, 2.75 GAA, .911 save percentage, two shutouts; Anthony Peters 7-4-2, 2.83 GAA, .900 save percentage, one shutout
  • SPECIAL TEAMS: Power play 13.7%, 28th in AHL, 9 shorthanded goals allowed; penalty kill 81.6%, T-20th in AHL (a drop of 10 places from last week), 6 shorthanded goals forced

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

Christian Thomas, even though he’s on leave from WBS for the Olympics. He scored the first goal for Canada in their final pool play game against the Republic of Korea, which Canada won 4-0. Canada is through to the quarterfinals as a result of their pool play results.

See my full recap of WBS at the Olympics here.

THE WEEK AHEAD

WBS will attempt to lick their wounds this week before facing another 3 in 3 this upcoming weekend. Kicking things off on Friday night in the WB will be WBS’s very first game in their history against the Rockford Icehogs. From there, WBS heads up to Syracuse on Saturday, February 24, for a 7:00 pm start against the Syracuse Crunch. WBS will close the weekend back in the WB on Sunday, February 25, with a 3:05 pm start against the Hershey Bears.